Archive for the ‘Sketching’ Category

What’s your problem?

November 9th, 2010 by Katie & Carmen | No Comments | Filed in Sketching, Teaching

In last week’s class we focused on future thinking and the dissection of big ideas. We wanted to encourage the students to think bigger than themselves and tackle tough problems that at first appear too big to solve.

As usual, we started the class by asking them to share their sketchbooks. We had a few excellent drawings this week!

Samarra's sketchbook

Jackie's sketchbook

Class Activity: Problems & Solutions

We jumped into the lesson talking about transportation. There are many issues and complex systems involved in running a citywide transportation system that could seem daunting to a group of high school students. On the other hand, we decided that this would be an interesting area to look at as we all are customers of the MTA. Like most New Yorkers, our students had no problem coming up with issues that they experienced during their daily commutes. Asking students about the problems they noticed or experienced, they shouted out everything from not knowing when train service was disrupted or changed, to crowded buses, to the boredom that comes with waiting for the subway or bus to arrive.

chalkboard

Since class is so short, we decided we would all focus on one problem – creating solutions to tackle boredom while waiting. As a class, we worked together to create a problem statement that would be a catalyst for designing solutions to solve it.

New Yorkers don’t have anything do it, and there’s not enough seating while they’re waiting for the train or bus.

After we defined our problem as a group we asked them to spend 2 minutes sketching a lot of ideas on post-it notes. Some of their solutions were simple: just add more chairs to solve the seating problem. Some of them were more complex, like introducing a pop-up chair that would hover around the platform until someone needs it, when it would pop into action as a full-sized support.

Evaluation

We held a quick critique of the ideas they came up with. We asked them to each talk about an idea that wasn’t their own. They had a hard time with that task, and wanted to mostly describe their own work. With a little nudging they did just fine at talking about each others’ work.

As a group we chose 7 ideas to work on. In small groups the students were assigned an idea created by one of their peers and were asked to make a poster about it. They were a little confused by this direction, asking if we were telling them to make an ad. We responded a concrete example:

If a teacher walked into the room right now and asked you to tell her about the idea you’re thinking about, how would you describe it? What do you need to communicate through your poster so she will ‘get’ your idea without you having to explain it?
They came up with a ton of great artifacts!

At the end of class we asked them to stand up in front and present their posters and concepts to us. We told them to pretend like they were presenting it to someone they’d never met before, instead of just their after-school teachers and classmates. They did an excellent job of refining their thoughts and presenting the ideas in a clear, concise way.

No Buttons for the Rowdy…

Despite the great ideas that came out at the end of class, this week’s class was pretty hard to teach. It was practically impossible to get the girls to quiet down, and most of our lectures and discussions were overrun by side conversations and gossip. It was totally out of the ordinary for our students, who are usually so well behaved. We left class feeling ever so slightly defeated.

After talking to some other teachers last week we discovered that all students everywhere are notoriously misbehaved during the week following Halloween. In one teacher’s theory, they’re all hopped up on sugar. Another teacher told me, “I don’t know what it is about the 7th or 8th week of school… but high school students seem to forget every single thing you’ve taught them. They regress through about 4 years of maturity overnight.”

Thanks for the support from our fellow teachers. We’re feeling much better about not being able to control the class last week, though we will be starting this week’s lesson by reviewing our behavior expectations. Hopefully they’ll be better and earn their reward button this week!

Tags: , , , ,

“I Never Knew I Could Get A Job Doing Design”

October 22nd, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Inspirations, Sketching, Teaching

On week 4, we left the classroom and entered the design studio. 13 students from Project: Interaction visited R/GA to learn about what it’s like to work as a designer from five amazing and inspiring Interaction Designers, Copywriters and Visual Designers.

When we arrived, we were eagerly greeted by Bertha Deshon, a recruiter for R/GA who along with VP, ECD Interaction Design and Friend of SVA IXD, Chloe Gottlieb, helped organized our visit. As we shuttled through the hallways, the girls remarked on everything – from the awards on the walls, to the decorations inside offices, to the well stocked coffee bar.

Waiting for our students when we arrived at the conference room was a table of snacks (Whew!), so as the girls enjoyed pretzels, chips and soda, the panel discussion begin with a few videos showcasing R/GA’s award winning work.

The panel included five talented women from a variety of design backgrounds. They talked about how they discovered design and what their jobs at R/GA. The discussions also touched on the different types of jobs at the agency and what goes into a successful project. I probed the panel on how they valued sketching in the design process, so the girls could understand why it’s so important to sketch.

When the floor was open for questions, the girls had plenty. Many wanted to know where everyone went to college, some were interested in how photography fit in at a digital agency, others had questions about R/GA’s work. One of our students really wanted to know what an algorithm was. I love the curiosity!

Because of the distance between R/GA and UAI, we were only able to stay an hour, but it was an hour of inspiring moments – for Katie, myself and the girls. It was awesome to see the girls hanging on to the words of everyone who spoke about their experiences. We remarked later how we could see sparks coming off of some of the girls in attendance. I think we opened up their eyes with this trip to all the exciting opportunities that come with a career in design.

Katie and I were up for the task of chaperoning our students from school to Times Square and thank goodness it was uneventful. Of course, we had occasional moments of ‘was this a good idea?’ The first was as the subway door started to close on Katie and one of the students at the Borough Hall station prompting us to do exactly what the MTA says not to: hold the closing doors. The other, maybe not surprisingly, also involved the MTA. The MTA pass that I was given allowed us to travel on the subway for free, but what I didn’t realize is that during rush hour the pass is invalid. The MTA official, not so kindly, told me this fact and I guess the concerned look on my face as I was thinking ‘how do I get all of us back to school?’, prompted a change of heart and she let us through. (Whew! x2)

For next week, we’re talking about mobile and bodystorming! Yay!

“It smells like Coney Island!”

October 15th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Sketching, Teaching

Wednesday was our third class at the UA Institute. We saw last week how excited the girls were when we asked them to show off their sketches. This week we were really impressed; almost all of them had drawn something they wanted to share!

The focus of Week 3 was Observation. We wanted to teach our students the difference between their memory of a place and how it actually exists. We started a conversation about the street outside the school, asking them what kinds of things they see there each day. They shouted out the answers we expected: Trees! Buildings! Crazy people!

Then we led them downstairs to the street, armed with a set of open ended questions to guide their observations. We asked them to write each observation on a Post-It note, and most importantly, not to talk while they’re observing.

One of our students, Olivia, was lucky enough to talk to one of the people she had been observing. A woman approached her and asked what the Post-Its were all about. When our student told her she was observing the plaza, the woman (an architect) launched into a tirade about the failure of the space as a public venue. Olivia was totally fascinated by everything the woman said to her, and got a great lesson in why user research can be an exciting and inspiring way to learn about a problem.

When we got back to the room we talked about everything the students observed. This time they were able to give me specific examples of the things they’d seen, including tiny architectural details, sounds and smells. They discovered that a certain part of the plaza smells like steaks and another part smells “like Coney Island.” Yuck!

We talked about ways that we might group our observations and came up with a few significant clusters: Sounds, smells, behavior, nature, outside objects and architecture. Each student placed her Post-Its in the appropriate category, and when we were finished we had a whole board full of observations about the plaza. For each category the students were able to tell a specific story about what they saw. For example, Nia told us about a behavior she saw, a guy illegally riding his bike through the plaza wearing headphones. When we probed, she was able to tell us more and more details, including that they song was an “old school” one. Like from the 90s.

Another student had an exciting observation in the plaza. She bumped into one of the benches and discovered that the pointed corners can be quite painful! She suggested the bench’s design could be improved by rounding the corners to avoid a dangerous interaction in the future.

At the end, we asked them why observation skills might be important for designers. Quickly they could identify that it’s important for designers to know a lot about the things they make, and it’s important for them to really see the details they’re addressing.

We wrapped up class by introducing our expectations for our field trip next week. We’re heading to R/GA for a tour and introduction to the jobs designers perform in a large organization. We can’t wait!

Tags: , , ,

New Friends & Post-Its

October 12th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations, Programming, Sketching

Over the weekend we set up space at Re:Form School in SoHo, joining them in their three day gallery show to promote arts education in schools. We had a blast!! We were there for three hours and had a steady flow of folks coming to our room. We were excited to share our project with them and they were very happy to share some sketches with us.

We asked everyone who came by to help us by contributing a sketch or an idea to our wall of Post-It art, focusing each mini-drawing on the words invent, design or change. Everyone jumped in to help out and add their voice to the wall.

Sitting, thinking, sketching

By the end of the day we had a huge collection of art, a full email sign up sheet and no business cards left. We talked to countless inspiring teachers and enthusiastic artists and designers. We are so happy that our program is a catalyst to connect all of these thinkers.

Wall of Post-Its

DESIGN detail

Over the weekend we surpassed our Kickstarter fundraising goal of $7500!  We still have a couple of days left to complete our project. If you’re interested in helping, please donate to our project!

Tags: , ,

Graphic Jammin’

October 8th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | 3 Comments | Filed in Sketching, Teaching

How many ways could you describe “social” or “community” if we only gave you a pen, sticky notes, and 2 minutes? Or what about “happy” or observe”? Would you be stumped or run out of sticky notes?

Wednesday’s class was all about brainstorming. Our students are familiar with the concept of brainstorming through class assignments and projects, so Katie and I wanted to give them a unique experience that would get them sketching like crazy and out of their seats.

Looking for a fun way to brainstorm, we decided to adapt a game called Graphic Jam, from the book, Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo. The game challenges participants to visualize words that often seem too abstract to imagine in a tangible way. Participants are given two minutes to sketch as many ideas as they can to represent the chosen word.

We thought this would be a great assignment for our class for a few reasons. Many of our girls keep saying to us that they’re not any good at drawing, and we are determined to break that mindset and get them comfortable with thinking visually. And, we want them to know that having lots of ideas is critical to finding the right idea. We also wanted them to know that brainstorming can be more alive than just writing words on paper.

The Graphic Jam was a huge success! Each word generated tons of tiny sketches. When time was up and the alarm rang, the girls rushed out of their seats to post their sketches to the chalkboard, with over half the group eagerly volunteering to explain their sketches in front of the class.
Running to the board
Presenting

At the end of class, we had a chalkboard full of of colorful post-it note sketches. Students who volunteered to share their sketches got the “Stand Up, Say Yeah” button for Volunteerism. Yeah! What was the consensus from the students? “That was fun!”
Our classroom
Social

Show Me Your Moleskine Notebook!
We handed out “Sketchtastic” buttons to a few girls who shared their sketches, poetry and pictures from last week. We’re hoping to see more next week and share a few on the blog.

Week 2 Lessons: To Stick or Not to Stick?

  • Standard post-it notes don’t stick well to dusty chalkboards.
  • We need to be more aware of the moment when conversations go from relevant to not. Our students are awesome, but in the end they are still 14 and 15 year old girls.
  • It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in the fun of our activities, but as teachers we need to remember to ask the “hard questions” and challenge students to think more critically about their ideas when they present them.

More Supplies, Please?
Students are asking us if they can take home some of our materials, and others have requested pencils for sketching. After our class is through we’d like for our students to be able to continue sketching, collecting, and creating on their own, but many of them don’t have access to the materials that we take for granted in our work. We’d love to be able to give them a small grab bag of designer goodies to continue their explorations.

The Final Days of Kickstarter…
There are only 5 days left in our Kickstarter campaign and we’d love to see your support. We need less than $2500 to make our goal! Please support our program with a donation or spread the news to your friends!

Tags: , , , , ,

Invent Design Change!

October 7th, 2010 by Katie & Carmen | 1 Comment | Filed in Inspirations, kickstarter, Schools, Sketching

Join us Sunday from 3pm-6pm in SoHo!

In the last three weeks we’ve brought together an online community of people on Kickstarter who are passionate about design education. Now we’re inviting our online community to join us offline for an event this weekend to support arts and design in education.

We’re teaming up with Re:Form School, a REDU project that has transformed an abandoned school into a gallery of art for the enjoyment of all.

Please join us!

  • Record your own story answering “How did you first learn about design?”
  • Contribute your ideas and sketches to our giant wall of sticky note art!
  • Meet other awesome people who love art, design and education!

Can’t make it but still want to help? Donate to our Kickstarter campaign!

Tags: , , , ,

Brainstorming for a Name

May 21st, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Discovery, Sketching

After all this brainstorming, we’ve decided to stick with our original name concept: Project:Interaction.

At least with all the back and forth we came up with a great vocabulary with which to talk about our project!
Whiteboard Brainstorming

Tags: , , , ,