My 7th graders are embarking on their Graphic Design journeys…one of my favorites times in the Trimester. Unfortunately, it marks the end of the trimester so that means we’ll be parting ways and saying hello to a new group but that’s a topic for another day.
Anyways, back to technology integration in the arts! This year, I had the joy of receiving a grant for 15 cameras, 7 tripods and the little things associated with that. These have transformed my technology units into a great tool for many areas of interest that my students have. With my 7th graders, I run this unit like a business – they become advertisers. I start the class off by letting them know I am in need of various advertisements to fill all my many publications – doesn’t matter how old kids are, they always love make-believing. That I can’t hire anyone besides the best and I want to give them a chance.
First, I set the kids up with Edmodo. This becomes our digital server for assignments, bell ringers and discussions. I love Edmodo…so much more than Moodle. I totally understand that Moodle is similar but the kids do not enjoy it; it’s limiting with so many boundaries and it is hardly user friendly. Give me an update worth using and I may change my mind; but until then I’m going to stick with the tools that help engage and excite the students.
To start our unit, we introduce the essential question, “What is effective advertising?” and get the ball rolling. All students are required to go online and find a print advertisement of a product that defines effective advertising, citing reasoning other than “cool”. From those, I pick 4-5 that hit the mark and we pick them apart, piece by piece to get their own thoughts flowing.
Our district is big on Publisher, so currently the students use that to complete this project. I am transitioning them into Photoshop and Illustrator over time but until then…good things must wait, I suppose. After the initial discussion, we review Publisher tools, introducing page parts, wrap text points, background, advertisements. Looking at past student examples, we discuss layouts and how to balance elements on the page (left to right, top to bottom, heavy text with photographs, etc).
Since we have cameras, students are able to take pictures themselves. Using this website, we review the Rule of Thirds, talk about focusing a photograph and review the basic functions available on our cameras. Now, they must come up with their product (anything in the school from the carpet to the light switches to a classroom desk). Students have gotten creative and even sold “maid services” or “homework helpers” because they want to be in their advertisements. I’m not picky and as long as they are getting completely creative, they do great. Using the cameras, they take photographs of their product and import them onto their computer.
Using the photographs, their creativity, and essential design concepts (especially those Principles of Design they were thoroughly introduced to at the beginning of the term), they create advertisements that provide necessary information for purchase. They use our class weebly to keep their requirements and expectations on check. Having the weebly creates a great buffer between the student and questions they have – they essentially run the classroom while I facilitate the learning…or business, as some students remind me. Any requirement the student has reason to disregard (don’t want a price because it would scare away interested customers…) just means students have to meet and discuss that desire with me; if it’s valid, I adjust the lesson – because who isn’t a fan of differentiating learning and assessment.
Anyways, as any lesson goes – unit, whatever – it’s a pretty adjustable idea. Here are a couple examples from the last term. More to come after this term ends.