Tell Me About it: What is Design? (Part One)
By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, September 20, 2007
- Middle School
- People's Design Award
- Language Arts
One to two fifty-minute class periods
What role does design play in everyday life? In this two-part lesson, students are introduced to diverse aspects of design. In the first lesson, students will participate in a jigsaw learning activity to learn about specific fields of design that include interior design, architectural design, landscape design, fashion design, theater design, and graphic design. In jigsaw learning activities, students work in small groups to conduct research on a specific topic and teach their classmates what they learn, thus completing the “jigsaw puzzle.”
Common Core Literacy for Other Subjects
Strand Reading for History/Social Studies Grades 6-8
RH.6-8.7. Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Strand Writing for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects Grades 6-8
WHST.6-8.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Common Core English Language Arts
Strand Speaking and Listening Grades 6-8 SL.6-8.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacherled) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. SL.6-8.2. Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
Language Arts - Reading
Standard 7. Uses skills and strategies to read a variety of informational texts Level III. Benchmark 1. Reads a variety of informational texts (e.g., electronic texts; textbooks; biographical sketches; directions; essays; primary source historical documents, including letters and diaries; print media, including editorials, news stories, periodicals, and magazines; consumer, workplace, and public documents, including catalogs,technical directions, procedures, and bus routes)
Language Arts - Writing
Standard 1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process Level III. Benchmark 5. Uses content, style, and structure (e.g., formal or informal language, genre, organization) appropriate for specific audiences (e.g., public, private) and purposes (e.g., to entertain, to influence, to inform
Working With Others
Standard 1. Contributes to the overall effort of a group
Standard 1. Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts Level III. Benchmark 2. Knows how the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes can be used to enhance communication of experiences and ideas
- create a graphic organizer
- participate in small-group and large-group discussion
- work collaboratively in small groups
- conduct internet research on varied fields of design
- create a class presentation demonstrating an understanding of one field of design
- “Design Graphic Organizer” handout
- Computer with internet access
Building BackgroundActivity One: Introducing Design Concepts The purpose of this activity is to provide students with an introduction to design concepts. 1. Tell the students that they are going to learn about the world of design and design education. To provide some basic introductory information about design and design learning, share the following paragraphs with the class:
- Learning through design invites students to be active and reflective learners. Students gain an increased awareness of design in diverse areas of their everyday lives. They may notice how the color, lights, and fabrics in their room create a mood, or how their community was planned with an array of parks, grocery stores, and offices. They may look more closely at the everyday products that surround them, and question the design of a computer mouse, a picture frame, a flower garden, or a pair of sneakers. They may notice the spatial arrangement of windows in a downtown building, the symmetry of a webpage, or the ornamental detail on a balcony. They may think about the structure of buildings, bridges, and walkways across rivers. Design-based learning helps students develop observational skills, and question the way things are created.
- Creativity is at the heart of design. Design-based learning invites students to solve problems, take risks, support their ideas, critique and evaluate their work, reflect on their learning process, and think about the world in new ways.
- Divide the class into groups of three students. Tell the students that each group is going to construct a graphic organizer. A graphic organizer is a visuospatial representation of information. Give each group a copy of the “Design Graphic Organizer” handout (attached).
- After completing the graphic organizers, ask each group to share its work with the entire class. Discuss the different categories of design and the students’ choices from the People’s Design Award website (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/design-awards/Vote-for-the-Winner-of-the-2013-Peoples-Design-Award.html).
- Introduce the following steps of the design process to the class:
- STEP ONE: Identify the problem. Brainstorm ideas.
- STEP TWO: Analyze the elements you will need to solve the problem.
- STEP THREE: Create your design plan and presentation.
- STEP FOUR: Evaluate your design. Share your design and ask for feedback and discuss how you might make changes and improvements to your design.
- STEP FIVE: Communicate. Share your design plan.
Steps for LearningActivity One: Jigsaw Learning The purpose of this activity is to give students the opportunity to conduct research on a specific design topic and share what they learn with their classmates. Divide the class into groups of five students. Tell the students that they are going to research a specific area of design, and create a presentation to share what they learn with their classmates. Provide the following list of design topics and ask each group to choose one. Try to ensure that each group selects a different topic. Allow students to choose to investigate areas of design that may be of interest to them that are not included in the list below.
- Interior Design
- Landscape Design
- Automotive Design
- Lighting Design
- Fashion Design
- Theater Design
- Sound Design
- Industrial Design
- Graphic Design
- Jewelry Design
- Fabric Design
- Ceramic Design
Have the students use internet resources, library references, and magazines to conduct research about the varied design fields.
Assessment will be in part two of this two-part lesson.
Enrichment Extension Activities
Differentiation for Elementary School
Provide a set of flashcards with different images of design examples and have the students sort them into design categories: architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, fashion design, industrial design, graphic design, etc.
Differentiation for High School
As students begin thinking about future careers, many might be considering work in design. Have your students conduct additional research about the world of design. Create a class website with annotated references of websites, books, videos, and articles about design. Include lists of college programs in design that students may want to apply to. Make your class's research available to other students in your school.