I am convinced more than ever that inquiry and project based learning is aligned with the direction of future-focused education. Projects, big or small, encourage students to seek solutions to real problems. Having taken the top and bottom academically streamed classes through a design project, I am satisfied that with differentiation all students are able to engage in this unit. The unit of work had four components: 3x Floor Plans, Sample Board, Cushion Design and Model. (As the cushion sewing component of the unit of work was completed by another teacher, I will not be discussing it).
Students are to measure the perimeter of their rooms including doors, windows and built in wardrobes. In class, students could choose to use a 1:20 scaled ruler to draw their floor plans onto graph paper. Most students chose to convert the measurements to a 1:20 scale manually. The higher ability students found this task simple. However, most of the lower ability students did not engage with the mathematics. If students did not bring in measurements from home, a set of standard measurements were provided for them.
Students had to research furniture they wanted to have in their room. The online IKEA catalogue was a convenient place to find measurements for different furniture. Students drew the furniture on graph paper using a 1:20 scale.
The girls handed in 2 pieces of work on grid paper: 1x floor plan and 1x page of furniture. Three copies of each piece of work was made on coloured paper. This allowed the students to experiment with different floor plans without having to redraw their floor plan and furniture.
Students then analysed their floor plans according to the PNI framework: Positives, Negative & Interesting. They chose their favourite floor plan and submitted a half a page explanation as to why it was their favourite.
Students chose a theme for their bedroom redesign and collected samples of fabric, materials (e.g. floor boards), colour swatches and pictures of furniture designs to inspire their project. The samples were presented on a A3 sample board.
A few creative themes (and materials) included:
- Beach (sand, sea shells)
- Harry Potter (posters of the infamous 4 Hogwarts houses)
- Rainforest (bird pictures, plants)
- Music (garage-style band, brick walls)
The most time was spent on the physical model. Students experimented with paper, clay and wood to create their furniture. They used PVA glue and hot glue guns as adhesives and had a lot of fun doing it. Most of the materials were sourced from home and students were encouraged to used recycled materials to demonstrate an understanding for the need of sustainable options for the improvement of the environment. Here are two of the outstanding projects.
Mickey Mouse Theme
Room For Improvement
Funnily enough, “Room For Improvement” was the name of the unit. Although a physical product is satisfying, some teachers agreed that the unit should be designed completely digitally. The technology to create floor plans, sample boards and models of rooms is already here. An example is the app Cam To Plan which uses the camera on your phone to create a 2D floor plan. However, this may pose a problem for students without access to smart phone at home. Alternatively, we can choose one aspect of the project, for example the room modelling, to be completed digitally on the computers at school. This enables students to work creatively whilst developing their digital literacy skills. All in all, the unit was enjoyable and the students and I are looking forward to the next units: jewellery design and food technology.