SchoolArts Magazine

MAR 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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22 MARCH 2019 SchoolArts A while back, I took a graduate course called Developing Inno - vators and Innovation Skills. I struggled to muster any enthu - siasm considering the course began only two days after we broke for the summer. I was also leery of how useful the course would be for an art teacher. Have no fear—this story has a happy ending. I was relieved to discover that the instructor could not have been more knowledgeable, and the material turned out to be malleable enough for any classroom situation. The course was developed based on the book The Innovators DNA: Master - ing the Five Skills of Disruptive Inno- vators by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen. The book was originally intended for businesspeople. After its release, however, individuals in other fields found that they could apply the five main concepts outlined in the book—associating, questioning, observing, networking, and experi - menting—to their own situation. Frankenstein Design In the months that followed, I eagerly put some of what I had learned into effect here and there. Then I hit a resounding home run with a project I engineered for my Advanced Computer Graphics class. I called it "Franken - stein Design." The idea originated from a Dada-like exercise we performed during the course that addressed the concept of association, where we asked ourselves what would happen if we combined two very different objects. Phase One I divided the class into small groups and gave them access to piles of various magazines. Each group was asked to locate in the magazines two very different objects, find a way to combine them, and then describe the merged objects' intended use. One of my favorite outcomes was the Punching Bag, which combined a boxing glove and a paper bag. The intent was, if someone were to steal your lunch, a spring-loaded boxing glove would launch into action, thus deterring any future stolen lunches. Kasmira Mohanty Barring bodily harm, I was charmed by the play on words and the group's originality. Phase Two For phase two, each student wrote on two separate pieces of paper the names of two objects of their choos - ing and placed the papers in a hat. Each student then picked two of the papers from the hat. There were two simple rules: no do-overs or trading, and students had to work with the two listed objects they pulled from the hat. Some squealed with bliss; others groaned after discovering what they would be designing with. I reminded them to just have fun with it, be silly, get in some playtime, and a solution would eventually present itself. They just needed to be patient and trust the process. The Eight-Step Design Process To help students with that undertak- ing, I had them complete an in-depth packet based on the eight main steps of the design process: identify the problem, identify criteria and constraints, brainstorm possible solutions, generate ideas, explore possibilities, select an approach, build a model or prototype, and refine the design. My advanced-level students are required to come up with design solutions based on their individual interests rather than working from a step-by-step tutorial with which I often provide my introductory-level students. There is a very common misconception among young design students that you simply hop on the computer and design genius materi - alizes without giving any consider- ation to multiple design solutions, process, procedure, and research. The packet gives them the tools to thoughtfully approach and conquer a design question. A Quick-Fire Challenge After students submitted their packets for review, they engaged in a friendly competition via a quick-fire challenge. I introduced these one-day challenges this year to reinforce and review acquired skills. (I adapted the idea from the television show Top Chef.) Afterward, I revealed the quick-fire solution with student participation. This gave students an opportunity to ask questions, acquire new skills, or clear up any confusion. All students received a participation grade, and I hit a resounding home run with a project I engineered for m dvanced Computer Graphics class. I called it "Frankenstein Design."

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