DT - Your best angle

9th March 2012 at 00:00
Swap product description for real analysis to show your skill

Typically, interviews for teaching jobs include a demonstration lesson. Probably the most common brief for Damp;T is "do a product analysis". There are good reasons for this. First, it does not rely on other things that the pupils have learned. Second, in the past Ofsted has said that this is one of the weakest areas of teaching in our subject.

A typical demonstration lesson will have a starter, a main activity using scaffolding such as Access FM, Cafe Que or Satsumas to guide the pupils, and then a plenary. What pupils actually do often deteriorates into little more than product description, with not much to choose between the interviewees except their classroom management. So how can we make ourselves stand out from the crowd?

One approach is to place the emphasis on real learning by the pupils. Place six boxes around the room. In each box, place a designer product, something with an unusual appearance for its function - for example, Alessi products with their anthropomorphic shapes. Split the class into six teams and give them 10-15 minutes to carry out a product analysis on a worksheet. They can see and touch the products, but are not allowed to remove them from the box. The worksheet can use your scaffold of choice, preferably with separate columns for the description of the product's features and the "because" - the reason why these features are important. It should be large enough that other teams will be able to read the writing on it.

Next, the teams swap worksheets. They cross out the title "Product analysis" and write "Specification". Each team then has 5-10 minutes to produce an annotated sketch of the item described by the other team. With capable pupils, before exchanging worksheets the teams could fold them to hide the description column. This means that the new team's design should then be based on the needs that the product must meet.

As a plenary, compare the drawings to the items. Normally, much hilarity ensues. Ask the teams to explain why the drawings are different from the items and what extra information they would have needed to make them more similar.

So, pupils have carried out a product analysis, not just a description, turned this into a design specification and designed a product to a specification. They have worked in teams and given peer feedback. Not bad for one lesson's learning.

Paul Anderson is a teacher of design, technology and engineering in West Yorkshire. He is also a member of the James Dyson Foundation Innovation Group

What else?

Need a step-by-step guide to delivering analysis skills to all? Try a box of goodies from JamesDysonFoundation.

For a quick, visual activity to warm up an analysis lesson, try pmsims' starter.

Trevulate has shared some colourful prompt cards to get pupils started on product analysis.

In the forums

On the TES Damp;T forum, one teacher wants to know if you are required to teach all areas of Damp;T at key stage 3.

Join a debate about the most beautiful product ever made. Is it the Lamborghini Miura? Ducati motorcycles? Or Philippe Starck's lemon squeezer?

Find all links and resources at www.tes.co.ukresources025.

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