I used to laugh at how many products used to use football as a theme for their advertising when it was completely unrelated. As a fan, sometimes it helps to use such a great sport as a way of teaching!
Whilst travelling up to York this weekend I attempted to tune in Talksport radio station to catch up on the pre match chat and started to think about the frustrating life of a football fan. For some, it is more frustrating than others, for those that regularly witness success, to those that carry on attending each week paying to watch their side get a kicking! Anyway, many things go through my mind during long journeys and I got to thinking about how I tune in each time an England game is on, how much I enjoy the hype in a build up to a tournament and then they fail to deliver. As I appear to have a childlike brain sometimes, my thoughts were swiftly interrupted and off in a different direction. I started to think about design, teaching and the current state of the subject.
To warn you, I am going to continually switch between the two topics, I'll probably be slammed for it being poorly written but these are just the ramblings of somebody who likes to think they have a little common sense and logic...
England has always been a big player at a world level, we complain that we don't perform nowadays due to too many international players at our clubs, yet will still pay an extortionate amount of money for them. Our governing bodies want us to be number 1, want us to compete on the world stage yet explain that it is a problem at grass roots level and the only solution is to invest more into promoting and developing our younger players, better facilities, management, opportunities and support.
Supporting a team can be like being involved in a department, you're only as good as the motivation, management, team work, ability to take risks and support structures in place. Some years you have a 'blinder' and some you won't but the best results come through enjoying what you're doing, bettering your knowledge, ability and of course experimentation. You want to best prepare your 'players' for the national game (their futures) yet quite often nowadays, the expectations are that the players are not best prepared or ready to perform at that level.
Our governing body wants our country to be number one in design and creative industries, naturally, a similar solution of investing at grass roots level would be the obvious solution. Things will not change over night, in a week, month or year. Supporting design and creative subjects and teachers with promotion of importance, need, development, facilities, access and training is surely the most obvious way forward.
To me, the same principles and methods should be applied to both? Does that not make sense? Is that not the obvious solution that stares you in the face?
Imagine our Olympic athletes, footballers, rugby players etc being expected to become number one, in the world, by reducing time for training, removing facilities due to cost, removing experienced support, sending money away to invest in other countries training and production, forcing other professionals into a position where they feel the need to slam and talk down the importance?
Anyway, as I said, ramblings....
I love my job, I love teaching children to avoid fixation, to spot and solve problems, improve accuracy, apply maths, science and other subjects. I enjoy teaching them about patience and an iterative design cycle. I love seeing the reaction and satisfaction to overcoming nerves and learning new practical skills and processes. In one of the only subjects that evolves every minute, I love to be a learner too, experiencing new technologies and techniques, trying to 'keep up', seeing the look that I imagine was on my face, when children first witness 3D printing, laser cutting, vinyl cutting, or rotation of a 3D CAD model! I feel fortunate that I am teaching and learning at a time where social media has enabled me to network, share ideas, solve problems, travel nationally and internationally, and even meet many, many professionals within design.
If I'm honest, I don't think the problems are at a grass roots level in design, they are way up high by those that control education, those that are so far removed from education that I'm surprised they can even see us! To become the driving force, which I believe we have the potential to do, will take a little common sense and a massive change of approach from above. Who says my subject is not 'important'? Who is it not 'important' to exactly?
Well it's finally here! The International D&T conference in Dubai, just on our way to Heathrow and flying overnight, arriving nice and early to take in as much of Dubai as possible!
Really looking forward to the main event and sharing my experiences and views on creativity but also to catch up with so many D&T teachers. For a start, I'll be speaking alongside Brian Russell and Brian Smith from ICSAT, Brian Russell trained me in my PGCE a few years ago now at Dixons Technology College in Bradford as a part of the Leeds University PGCE. I studied alongside Michael Bastow and Kathryn Hall who I haven't seen since we completed the course! I've also been fortunate enough to work alongside Bill Nicholl in the last 3 years when training PGCE students from Cambridge University.
There will of course be the added bonus of a catch up with the Technology Supplies staff and putting faces to names from JambleD&T Facebook group!
I'm hoping to put as much info on here throughout the week, images of workshops and presentations!
After only a couple of hours sleep and 60% of 'the hobbit' we arrived in Dubai. Chauffeur drive to the hotel and a beautiful room and view but shattered and decided just to get to the pool for a bit! Bumped into Bryan Russell for a brief catch up as we went off for a walk around one of the malls and for lunch. Booked Burj khalifa excursion for tomorrow but went to see it anyway and was amazed, honestly felt like we were at a film set with all of these huge impressive buildings looking down on us! I'd definitely recommend seeing the fountains outside, they dance to music in such an impressive way every half hour!
Had a walk around the Dubai Mall, was more inspired by the walk through Hamley's than 'Versace Home Store'!!
Bumped into Brian Smith of ICSAT making his way into the hotel.
Finally a couple of Belgian beers with the inspirational Bill Nicholl from Cambridge University, too much teacher talk for Jemma though so we've given in for the night!
Sun burn check - red belly
Random room feature - toilet phone
Much needed sleep until 9am, like a log! Breakfast was a disguised traditional English, not real bacon, not real sausages!!! All coped with well until I cracked my boiled egg and it was brown!
Went to the marina, beautiful beaches, long walk and met a camel!
Went up the Burj Khalifa, amazing 360 view around Dubai and some awesome models/3D prints of it downstairs, basically if anything is learned from Dubai experience, it is what you'd build for a city if you had a blank canvas and lots of money!
Evening time, meeting with tech supplies and all other speakers, top conversations, a few cheeky Belgians and all prepared for tomo! Had a long chat with Martyn, Director at Technology Supplies and came away with so much advice for my business!
Looking forward to it still and a little nervous but on we go!
It's finally here, the start of two days packed with keynote presentations, workshops, stands and loads of networking between likeminded, creative D&T teachers!
Bumped into John Zobrist at breakfast who I'd not spoken to properly, top man and likeminded in his views on D&T and its progression. Watched 3birds tuck into his cereal when he went to get a juice 😁
The conference looked superb and was a huge credit to the staff at the School of Research Science and all of the Technology Supplies team, smart, professional and inspiring! We were welcomed by the Principal, Nan Billingham and were treated to an extra welcome from a Sheikh!
First up, Max McMurdo, talented upcycler and owner of Reestore. Max was inspirational with his passion and enthusiasm and was the ideal professional to start the conference presentations! I knew a little about Max from showing his work to my Product Design students but learned so much more about his career and products. I was particularly impressed with Max's energy and he credited it all to his D&T teacher. On a visit to the mall, he spotted one of his own products as a feature in a shop!
Next, we were treated to an expert in creativity in my opinion, Bill Nicholl. I've been fortunate enough to have known Bill for a few years now and to have worked closely with him on projects and through training PGCE students. Bill made everybody in the room think about their current projects and question the need for traditional work in place of more creative, concept based projects. Bill treated the audience to an insight into the DOT project focussing on inclusive design.
During the break I met many staff who will remain friends and colleagues for the rest of my career and beyond! It was so nice to put faces to names from staff who knew me and the work we do at JambleD&T.
After the break we should have had Gregg Corbett from Technology Supplies but unfortunately a passport issue denied him of a visit! (Sounds worse than it is!!)
Matt and Adam stepped up to take his place and were a credit to the company.
Finally we had David Spendlove, who runs the PGCE course at Manchester. I hadn't heard David speak before but was equally impressed with his ideas and discussion points about D&T and it's need to evolve!
After lunch, the workshops started! I was a part of 'Bootiful design' by 'Mr Max'. We were all given a chance to tinker in the workshop and make some 'boot pulls' from scaffolding board. Realised I took somebody else's home, or they took mine, either way we should know better as teachers, didn't write our names on them!!
My session was next and was able to showcase a range of resources that I use in lessons to tackle the design process. There were resources to help initial ideas, development, literacy and numeracy supports, coursework trackers, the JAMBLE game and SoWs! All seemed to go down fairly well and spotted my KS3 marking criteria up in the workshop!!
Later in the afternoon I met Darren King from Bagpress. He taught all about laminating curved forms using a vacuum press. An extremely knowledgeable guy and I hope to see him again back in the UK!
After a successful first day, Jemma and I went to meet a friend, former housemate and colleague from Lawnswood School for dinner. He took us to the 'observatory' with 360degree views over Dubai and the Marina. Fantastic to catch up with an old friend after 5/6 years and wish him all the best in Abu Dhabi!
My turn had arrived!
Another power breakfast with John, this time he chose to sit inside!
The conference started with a quick recap from Adam, before it was my turn to step up. I had chosen to introduce myself and explain the crazy last 12months for those who had yet to meet me or here about the JambleD&T project. I chose not to use research from an 'academic' point of view but to talk about how everything in the last 12 months has helped to stimulate, support and explore D&T teaching with pupils and teachers. I ended the presentation with quotes from staff in the JambleD&T Facebook group to give it a more personal feel!
Just as I finished I looked up and was bang on 30minutes (my only concern!) and it seemed to have gone down fairly well. The floor was open for questions and the main theme appeared to be about how I manage a work/life balance!
The next speaker was John Zobrist, Head of D&T at UWCSEA, Singapore and recent winner of DATA's 'International support for D&T' award.
John spoke about fixed and growth mindsets and the need to get away from a linear design process. I had already been thinking about how we approach the design process at all key stages and John has certainly given me plenty more to consider as I return to work!
After the break it was the turn for Richard Green, Chief Executive of DATA. Richard covered 'Risk and Reward' and showed the fantastic work that DATA are doing to push forward in supporting D&T teachers with the introduction of the new curriculum, evaluating projects against the NC criteria and the new D&TTV.
Merrick Russell, Co-founder of Designability teacher resources was next to the front. I didn't know a lot about Merrick's work but he certainly knows about the creative mindset and his presentation on 'Default Creativity' was superb!
Time for the final speaker, Brian Russell of ICSAT. I have known Brian for some time as he trained my group as the last PGCE group through Leeds University. Brian is now running ICSAT with Brian Smith and stepped up to give his views on the last 25years or so of exam boards and how they are handling the new proposals. Brian shared a wealth of knowledge and explained the need to get away from typical, similar projects that had plagued moderators for years and how we should encourage more creative and practical responses.
That was it....all presentations done and time for the final workshops. I was really pleased to see to members of staff who were on the same PGCE course as me and was a great opportunity to catch up after 10years!! Again, staff viewed and discussed resources from JambleD&T amongst others that I use and I felt that both workshops were an excellent opportunity to really discuss teaching with staff.
After packing up, I'd missed the start of Richard's workshop and didn't want to interrupt late but managed to take part in Merrick's session later on. He introduced the Power Anchor and Balsa projects he completes with pupils along all ages.
Time was up and after a very busy few days it was a chance for Sandy Brandmeier, CEO of Wall Family Enterprise to close the event. Sandy was clearly inspired by what she had seen and if anything it confirmed that they were doing so many amazing and worthwhile things to support D&T education worldwide through Technology Supplies.
As we approached our final evening in Dubai, we had one last treat to look forward to. A closing dinner with delegates, speakers, support and staff at the hotel. Everyone was so relaxed and enjoyed a wonderful evening in the company of new friends and colleagues. We had a couple of creative demonstrations by a local painter and ate a stunning international buffet.
So, all done and dusted! An experience I will never, ever forget and one that I am truly grateful for being given the opportunity to be a part of. A massive thank you goes out to Martyn Edwards and Technology Supplies, they have been so encouraging and supportive of the little part I'm trying to do and all deserve so much credit for their hard work at the event and behind the scenes! I have no doubts they'll have all been delighted with how their hard work had paid off, especially Roxy for putting up with us all! Thank you to 'Mr Tom', his lovely wife and D&T team who welcomed us into their school and had us in stitches throughout the final meal!
Thank you to all of my new friends who gave me the confidence to get through it all and enthusiasm at the event and during the evening of the meal. Finally to each member of JambleD&T as your support in what I and we are doing is what got me there in the first place!
If I've missed anybody I apologise, way too many to name but you know who you are!
I'll sign off now with the hope that all of the (hopefully) wise words at the event, the conversations, the networking, the ideas and the new connections will continue to push D&T forward. We have a subject that is permanently developing/evolving and we need to keep up and keep ahead! This can only be done with enthusiasm, passion and a drive to give our pupils and staff as many opportunities to be creative as possible. Reflect on what you do and remember that we have to take risks and not be afraid to learn from them, no matter how many times it takes to get to our intended goals. This advice is aimed at teachers and pupils, learn together and most of all, enjoy it!
A lovely blog post by Helen Dunn about why she decided to choose her 5 for the #Twitteratichallenge has inspired me to do the same! Great idea by @teachertoolkit Here goes...
Very early on in my online sharing experience, I liked the look of Lee's work. Lee's resources are just my kind of style and he was also keen to create in order to develop teaching and learning in D&T. Top bloke, my kind of designer and definitely one to follow!
I first met James as a trainee through Cambridge University. I read his PGCE application and was impressed with his thoughts and experience. James was fantastic as a trainee, a good friend, inspirational in his ideas but every meeting we had would quickly leave the planned criteria as we fired ideas around on improving projects and the environment at Samuel Ward Academy. Still bouncing ideas, links and resources regularly, will one day force him to join my department!
Downside: Leicester fan
Have to hand it to a good friend James Mason. We sat on a coach for 21 hours or so with 40+ Y8s planning out www.jambledandt.com pages. James is a PE teacher who is extremely passionate about improving delivery and projects. He has since helped develop JamblePE on Twitter and FB.
Downside: always beats me at golf
I have always been impressed with Dan's style of design, simple but powerful! Instantly recognisable design that he transferred into some amazing exercise books. We have been using exercise book 2.0 at Samuel Ward this year and staff and pupils love them. I'd definitely recommend a purchase for your department!
What can I say.... A company that contacted me very early on in the development of my business and have been nothing but supportive since. They travelled all the way from Shrewsbury to Suffolk to discuss ideas to promote what I wanted to do rather than buy into it. Technology supplies have given me one of the greatest opportunities I'll probably ever have in inviting me to be a keynote speaker at the International D&T Conference in Dubai. I'll be eternally grateful for their support and encouragement, and for the nomination at this years DATA awards.
I'd love to nominate many more but read the rules and like this simple but effective thank you method for the inspiration!
Regards and keep sharing!
Morning all, not entirely sure how well this will all work but if it improves networking for 1 person then it is worth it!
Right, the idea is to build upon the Zee Map. The Zee map enables staff to put contact details/subjects taught etc on a marker so that you can see who you are local to. In Cambridge, as we are quite far from the Suffolk LEA's meets, we set up CambridgeD&T network on FB, allows us to communicate, share local links, businesses, organise moderation, visits, job ads etc.
I've set up a JambleD&T group for each county to do the same thing. Now I know there are probably a few groups like this dotted around and I don't want to take place of those but imagine many areas are yet to be set up?
Some staff have already expressed interest in being made an admin in their groups and ideally can pass on group info to their local contacts through email too. Please see the following link... https://www.jambledandt.com/networking--support.html
To help promote these local groups, I will occasionally drop a resource in there first before the website. Today's resource is the Macdonalds style game sheet adapted as a pupil tracker for their coursework. The resource is too long to print as one document and I have divided it into 3 parts, once printed on A3, pupils can trim the edges and glue together!
For the last couple of years I have been producing and sharing resources for Design & Technology through Facebook and this website. In order to extend the collaboration section, I am looking for teachers who are interested in networking to share ways in which my currents resources can be modified and to develop new materials. If this is something you would be interested in, please contact me on email@example.com. All key stages and subjects are welcome!
As you can see on the PE page, we have not only started to produce resources for PE but have also set up a Twitter account and Facebook page to encourage networking.
In May 2015, I'll be taking part in the International D&T Conference in Dubai. The conference is a 4 day event organised by Technology Supplies Ltd. The first 2 days will be a H&S accreditation course run by DATA and the final two will host a range of Keynote speakers on the topic of 'Creativity in the future'. There will also be a range of workshops for attendees to take part in too, providing a fantastic opportunity for networking and CPD.
Keynote Presentation "Stimulate, support and explore"
The title itself is a three-step approach that exemplifies how learning and progress can be made in D&T lessons. We are the designers, the engineers, and the ‘hopefully creative’. We reflect on our practice and always strive to make D&T an accessible, enjoyable, and explorative area in which pupils feel free to take risks when expressing themselves and their ideas. How can we best cater for this? Scaffold/foster/build a creative and inspiring environment as a result of well-designed and appealing projects and resources.
So how do we support each other in promoting our subject area and its importance? We open ourselves to inspiration and we support D&T teachers nationwide, and internationally, in improving through advanced networking, sharing of ideas, discussion, and collaboration.
Workshop "Another angle"
This workshop will encourage participants to re-think their current approach to tackling the design process at all key stages. By taking a look at our interpretation of the individual steps, we can deconstruct how they are currently displayed in order to redesign and modernise creatively.
A series of games will be available to introduce in the design studio; these will demonstrate how to stimulate the minds of young designers and encourage discussion about existing products and the development of new products. Outcomes will link to Bloom’s taxonomy and new terms related to the design and technology curriculum.
James's thoughts... "Creativity takes many forms, depending on the context. In D&T, it can be that you naturally look at things from a different perspective, approach tasks from an angle not considered 'the norm'.
"Everyone has the potential to be more creative; they just need stimulation to access imagination, and support to develop it."
Well here it is.....incomplete but ready to publish for now!
I wanted to start by saying thank you to all D&T teachers who have supported what I am trying to do and what I have been trying to do for the last year or so.
It all started with resource development about 7 years ago, I produced a monopoly tracker to try to encourage pupils to see the bigger picture and to track their own progress. Much of this came from research I had read that had been produced by my Dad, Kevan Bleach, on 'boy's underachievement' and I started to think about how Resistant Materials had a lot of coursework and a lot of boys!
I have always enjoyed getting to know a new CAD program and using it to develop teaching resources for my lessons. I think it is crucial that we make the effort to produce resources that are appealing to pupils and keep them engaged. Also, we are design teachers and it saddens me to see what I refer to as a 'WordArt' resource!
Anyway, after teaching at my first post for several years I moved down to Red Lodge and took the post of Head of D&T at Samuel Ward, an outstanding academy in Haverhill, Suffolk.
At the same time, social media really started to take off and after exploring a few groups such as Product Design/Graphics/RM/Textiles surgery, DTDropbox, D&T Teachers and D&T teachers forum, I decided to start posting some of my work.
The first piece I put up was the design timeline, produced as part of a renovation project in one of our workshops. The response was huge and I started adding files to 'DTDropbox' by Jon Martlew. After a little while it became apparent that the volume of resources I had to offer were too much for the shared folder allowance and I decided to go my own way with 'J.BleachD&TResources', not the catchiest name but it proved to work for the time being! I always promised that if I have 200 members to my dropbox i'd set up a website (and I did purchase the domain name at this point I promise!) and decided to search for the most suitable one. This is where the name changed. Over time, I started to develop and share more and more and gained interest from several design companies.
I was approached by Technology Supplies about collaborating and met with staff from the company and was really impressed with their plans. The website progress slowed as I started to explore other avenues such as a facebook page and a focus on collaboration of resources.
So.....time to get this up and running properly! Keep an eye on it as it progresses, leave feedback, share ideas and post images, network with D&T teachers around the country and the world to promote our fantastic subject!