Posts Tagged ‘critique’

Finding Visual Inspiration

December 19th, 2011 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Teaching

Carmen and I translated the students’ post-it note wireframes into low-fidelity wireframe drawings. We presented the drawings back to them for review. It was tough to have our work critiqued by the students! They had great questions for each page: “Why is this here? Do we need to have it?” and “This page looks weird. Let’s change it.” We were proud to see our students turning a critical eye to their and our work, and it was exciting to see their reactions to a near-complete project.

After we received sufficient feedback we transitioned into a visual exploration exercise.

To introduce visual design concepts we first gave a (very!) quick lesson on typography. With a few basic principles in mind, we asked the students to dig through the pile of books and magazines we brought to find examples of interesting typography. The visual materials were a great platform for sharing ideas and talking about what they do and don’t like.

We repeated this exercise with hierarchy and layout concepts. Again, they hunted for interesting visual content and were able to easily share what they did and did not like about the designs. After each example we talked about how the concepts might be relevant to our Project GROW website. The girls were easily able to make connections between the magazine content and the ideas they had in their heads.

Our last exercise was about color. For inspiration, we showed them Color Index and again asked the students to find some magazine examples with great colors. Not surprisingly, they chose a lot of bright, exuberant colors. They liked the idea of adding in a lot of vibrancy and using a rainbow of options in the color palette.

The students left class with plenty of ideas in their heads for what the site might look like. We’re excited to see where the visual design goes in the coming weeks!

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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!

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