Sunday, August 05, 2007

New Beginnings

There's a niggling buzz that's started. Something familiar. One I've experienced every year since I first started school - too many years ago to mention. It's that feeling you get when the new school year approaches. Anticipation. Opportunities to begin again, to start over, do things better, try something new, reinvent yourself. What a rush....

Teachers start back on August 15th. I'm looking forward to a completely new job, teaching Design Technology through computers. Back when I was in middle and high school it would have been a shop class, but times have changed. For one thing, our school hasn't invested in a metal/woodworking shop. Perhaps they will in the future, but for now, we're approaching the course through computers.

The underlying concept is the same. Follow a design cycle. Brainstorm. Investigate. Sketch and plan several possibilities. Choose the most feasible or interesting one. Create the product. Reflect on the process and document as you go along. Test or get feedback on the final product and evaluate the outcome. We'll still address all of the components of the course: Information, Materials and Systems. The difference is that we won't be using food, wood, electric circuits, robotics, metal, textiles. At least not in the first year.

The other challenge is to create projects which can incorporate one or more of the Areas of Interaction: Approaches to Learning, Community and Service, Health and Social Education, Environment, and Human Ingenuity. By choosing their own theme, they'll own the project. It's also about giving something back, being aware of how we affect others and the mark we leave behind.

The process is the most important thing for them to experience, but the projects should be engaging. I'm thinking clay animation films with iStop Motion, comic book messages designed in Comic Life, podcasting with a slide show, designing complete CD covers, inserts and labels with a drawing program or their own photographs, iMovies with still photos and music created in Garage Band, postcards of bizarre images created in PhotoShop. No pre-designed images allowed. No hi-jacked pictures from Google. They'll have to create everything from scratch.

For me, the new year has never begun on January first. It begins at the end of summer when we all go back to school. I'm going to have to scramble to keep up... I can hardly wait!