I recently signed on to teach a few classes in graphic design to 7th and 8th graders. Some challenges were predictable — levels of interest and willingness to participate, chatting with friends, etc. Other challenges are still making themselves apparent and are being dealt with — sometimes well, sometimes not as well — as they come up. After class, I was able to pick the brains of staff and the art program director to determine the best ways to handle these situations.
(Note: Cell phones have taken the place of passing notes.)
We are lucky to have a computer lab in which to hold graphic design classes. Technology has made it possible to instantly show samples to the students and to research topics. Instead of passing out printed copies of lesson plans, I created a blogpost for the students where they can gather instruction and images for the day’s lesson.
While we do take advantage of technology, I try to teach students that the real problem solving occurs first in our minds, therefore I begin each semester having students create logos for themselves, first creating rough ideas in pencil, then creating a finished logo in color, by hand.
While some students stick very closely to examples I’ve shown, others surprise me with their out-of-the-box thinking. One in particular that I like was created by a student whose first nname begins with a “V” and his last name with a “D”. This young man wears a pair of very distinctive black eyeglasses. He used the “V” of his name as the nose rest of a pair of glasses and the letter D is repeated to create the lenses. That’s it — so simple, so beautiful. It’s moments like this, that remind me of why I love graphic design.