Monday, October 21, 2013

Logo Contest: Lessons from an early project

As one of our first few projects, and one with a focus on community building, we ran a logo contest early last year. We used the project to introduce and set up some Math content related to ratios, rates, and proportions (Math 8), as well as similar figures (Math 9). Science outcomes related to Scientific Literacy, and English outcomes related to Media awareness were also tied in through related assignments. The curricular ties were strong. As one of our first projects, though, this project stands our in my mind mostly because of what I learned from it.

One of the things I wish I had done differently with the project is to have started the logo design aspects sooner. Since then I've done a few design projects with a colleague who regularly runs with a two step research process for design work: first, a search for a variety of designs that students collect in a document; then, once a few favorite designs are chosen, a second search and collection takes place for a large number of designs related to the favorites from the first round. Drawing inspiration from other's logos would have given students an excellent springboard from which to begin sketching and drafting their logo designs.

The second aspect I learned from was the level of voice and choice in the technology used. We left students with options as to how they created their logos - we had everything from Google Sketch Up designs, Paint designs, Gimp designs, and Google Draw designs. Many students were exploring these drawing programs for the first time. Students were given ample drawing time, and were also given tutorial videos to better their understanding of Gimp. Because there was a range of new tools being used, though, students were not given quality feedback on their design work. In the end, however, the students with the greatest knowledge of the design tools produced the best logo.

The end product, as seen above, turned out really well. Of course, this wasn't the only product of the project. Students were motivated in the work, and enjoyed the process of pitching and voting on a logo. Math outcomes were tied in nicely to logo drafting, Science outcomes dovetailed into a "companies in the news" assignment, and English outcomes were met by a media assignment alongside the logo. As a community builder the project served its purpose well, and it was very cool to have the program represented by a piece of student work.

What were your take aways from your first experiences in Project Based Learning? Are there elements of the process you focused on early on? What kinds of projects or tasks would you use to introduce PBL in your classroom?

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