Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

A Deep Dive Into Structure & Content

November 18th, 2011 by Carmen Dukes | 1 Comment | Filed in Teaching

Great to Be Back

This was my first class since the start of this semester of Project: Interaction. It was great to see some of our students from last year as well as meeting all the new students. Equally awesome was being back at UAI and teaching in tandem with Katie. We were jetlagged from our trip, but excited about another week with our students.

You Went Where!?!?

Katie and I opened the class talking about our trip to Hong Kong. The girls were curious, asking questions about why we went and what sightseeing we did.

Deeper Dive

We started the class revisiting the sitemap the girls had architected last week. We talked through each section and determined the different types of goals users of the site would have. We identified a good set of goals from “Applying to Project: Grow” (Student), to “Checking Attendance” (Parent), to “Updating Class Information” (Teacher).

From there, we challenged the girls to create user stories for how a teacher, student or parent might use the website to accomplish one of the goals we identified. We encouraged them to sketch out all parts of the experience – how the user found out about the site, how they navigated the site and the steps they took to achieve their goal. Katie gladly gave a demonstration of a quick storyboard before letting the girls go off to create their own.

We wanted the girls to sketch quickly, but it didn’t work out that way. They spent more time on the aesthetics of the storyboard, then the story itself. I think this is partially because they have few opportunities to get creative with markers, crayons and colored pencils and such.

The girls presented their storyboards and we were really impressed. Most had great narratives of how a user would navigate the site. One even included the offline interaction that would lead to finding out about the Project: Grow website. A great teacher moment for us.

In a future class, I would like to revisit creative stories and narratives. While some girls got it right away, others simply drew storyboards of one screen to another, leaving out the most important part: the user. Maybe I’ll share some of my favorite comics and an excerpt from Scott McCloud’s book, Understanding Comics, in the next few weeks.

We finished up the class, asking the girls to create a paper prototype of one page from the site. In teams of two, the students used different colored post-it notes to represent the various content types. They were more excited to share these than the storyboards; maybe because this activity was more tangible than the previous one.

While the girls were working, Katie and I revisited the original “brief” we received from the after school program directors. While the girls had nailed most of the work, we realized we may need to include more content just for the girls, as one directive we received was that the site needed to be “girl-friendly.” To that point, we are also missing the social part of a web experience so we will need to talk to the girls about how that can be incorporated into the site. I’m not sure how social they are online, although one of our students mentioned the need for comments on the web.

No Sitting…Or Very Little of It

The girls sat at their desks most of the class and it definitely affected the energy level in the class. We have to remind ourselves that our students have been sitting all day and incorporate “think on your feet” activities to keep them engaged.

We Need More Sketchbook Volunteers

I would really like to see all the girls jumping out of their seats to share their sketchbooks. And I hope to experiment in the next few weeks with some creative ways to motivate them to sketch and share. I’m thinking some kind of game or competition. More thoughts on this to come…

More Surprise

Katie and I are thinking of creating a set of five or so buttons specific to this project. At the end of class, the girls who participated last year asked if we had any new buttons. So we think it would be a nice to include a special set for this class as well.

Next Week…

We are still planning next week’s class, and hope to include some activities that give the girls an understanding of how web pages work. We also hope to come up with a few activities to make the overall project seem more tangible. Briefly we’ve been thinking about making their efforts appear more 3 dimensional and tangible by representing the building of a website and related interactions with blocks, food, or people.

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On the Move

November 1st, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Programming, Teaching

We started our class by recapping last week’s field trip for the girls who couldn’t join us. Overall, they were all super excited about R/GA and its work. Thanks again to Chloe, Chris, Bertha and the others who hosted us and made the day really special for the girls.

Jumping right into our lesson, Carmen led a discussion about the concept of “mobile.” What does it mean if something is mobile? What are some things we use mobile devices for, other than texting or making calls? There were all kinds of ideas that came up, including watching videos, listening to music, using the internet, and also going to a museum or exhibit and using a mobile device there.

In preparation for our class activity we discussed the most basic elements of a story: establishing context, conflict, and resolution. The girls knew a lot already from English class, and they were quickly able to pick apart the key elements of any story.

Carmen talking about design

Bodystorming!

We divided the girls into groups and had them work together to act out a few scenarios. The catch? They had to randomly choose a year in which to act it out.

  • PAST 1990: No cell phone, no personal computer, no text messaging. (You can use: Phone booths, which cost 25 cents per call, the people around you, paper maps, cable television, a walkman, landlines, etc.)
  • PRESENT 2010: Cell phone, GPS, personal computer, internet, texting, YouTube, Wikipedia, etc.
  • FUTURE 2030: Assume you will have everything you have today, and whatever you can imagine. What will you have? What would you like to be able to do?
The scenarios we used:
  • You’re meeting a friend at the movies tonight. You’ve already made plans. How will you find each other once you get there?
  • You’re late for school. How will you let your parent or guardian and the school know you won’t get there on time?
  • You’re at Foot Locker checking out a new pair of sneakers. You want to compare the cost of the Nikes to the Sauconys you saw at the Sports Authority. How will you find the prices?
  • You get to your neighborhood subway stop and see that the train isn’t running. How will you find an alternate route?
  • You just left your friend’s house after hanging out all afternoon and you can’t find your way back to the subway. Assuming you can’t go back to your friend’s house, how will you find your way home?
  • You are a design intern and you are delivering a package for your boss. When you get to the office, the receptionist tells you that the name of the person that you are suppose to deliver the package to does not work there. How do you get the package to the right person?
  • You are going to take the train to Philadelphia. You need to purchase your ticket for the train, but the line is really long and the train leaves in 15 min! How can you purchase a ticket for the train?
  • Your friend is coming over for dinner and you know they love deviled eggs. Unfortunately, you don’t know how to boil egg! How can you find out how to boil eggs?

We encouraged them to incorporate emotions and a variety of characters into their skits, posing the challenge to add richness to the story by making up details that enhance the plot. For example, what does the phrase “You’re late to school” really mean? How can you communicate the anxiety you feel in that scenario in a way that is compelling for the audience?

Girls planning

It was really interesting from our side of things to see which girls took the lead in their groups. Just like in our classes, and it collaborative groups anywhere, each group had one person who led the sketch. In most cases we weren’t surprised to see who it was.

They had some really funny ideas for the past, like in one sketch where the main character had only a paper map to find her way home, but it was the wrong borough’s map. It was great to see what the girls came up with for the future, too. At first they wanted to just make everything a hologram, but when pressed to come up with alternate ideas they were able to dream up some more creative solutions, like beaming in a professional chef to your kitchen to teach you how to make eggs.
Future of egg making

Dominique (middle) is figuring out how to make eggs in 2030. D'Leslie invented a futuristic vehicle using the lid of our supplies box as a door.

train to philly

Tessa (left) is taking a train to Philly. In their story, Tessa missed the train because she got distracted talking with her friends.

The bodystorming activity also led us into some interesting discussion about communication. For many of the present time period groups we talked about why texting may or may not be useful as a method of communication, bringing up the point that there’s little to no feedback from the system. In essence, you can text your friend all day long without knowing whether she got your messages, or whether she cares to respond to them. In some cases it might be better to call.
They even made us do our own sketch, using the scenario of needing to find our local polling location in 1990.

In the end they could clearly see the value in acting something out. They were pleased with the ability to describe their ideas over time, and to communicate about technology and new ideas in a way that actively holds the audience’s attention.

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Great New Designs

July 12th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Inspirations

I am currently reading The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell. Early in the book, Schell talks about the importance of looking at music, architecture, film, science, art, and literature for design principles that one can drawn on to create “great new designs.” While the focus on his book is centered around game design, his message is clear for any design practitioner – design inspiration is everywhere. Our curriculum will be centered around the ever changing environment of New York City, but we will also encourage our students to bring in inspiration, ideas, and examples from any discipline or media. Maybe that will include looking at the laws of nature, like the Bauhaus School, or studying storytelling and pace in the plays of William Shakespeare, or maybe even examining artwork of their favorite artist or sculptor. I think kids will be excited to know that the possibilities for design are in everything they experience, and that they can look to their favorite hobbies and school subjects to find inspiration for their “great new designs.”

For more from Jesse Schell, watch his impressive “Design Outside the Box” Presentation below:

Xbox 360 GamesE3 2010Guitar Hero: Smash Hits

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The Power of Storytelling

June 25th, 2010 by Katie Koch | 1 Comment | Filed in Inspirations, Resources


Today I came across this awesome project from the Center for Urban Pedagogy. They’re using comic book storytelling techniques to teach kids about the juvenile justice system and what will happen to them if they’re arrested. You can download images or the full PDF on their website.

Full Article at Core77

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