Applied Design, Skills and Technologies

Reflections on Learning

Talking About Subjects

Each month I will (Lord willing, of course), try to provide you with a simple summary presentation of a "subject". I just like Monday Morning mental gymnastics.  Don't do this at home but I will be making subjects objects of study.  So we should because if we don't, they just sit there doing and meaning nothing. We must bring them to life through the action of inquiry.  (Hang in there I'll cut it out now)

ADST:  Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies

When I was a youth there was a great deal of angst about how push buttons (automation) were taking people's jobs away. When I first saw this button I was a little confused by it. How does looking alive prevent you from being replaced by a button? Well, I think the point is that as humans we must do what machines cannot do. We must master them or they will master us. When we learn to use tools and machines we can make our lives our work a lot more interesting and our lives a lot better.  Note the commas in the title. It means putting to use (applying) all three of these.

Design a creative process. Designs come about because we have problems to solve. If we make a napkin holder we're solving the problem of keeping napkins in a place where we can get them. They have to stay in place, but then when we want to take one, they have to come free. So we solve this problem with a design. 

Skills are abilities we gain through practice. When we put our skills to use in the real world we call it applied skills. Back in the ancient days of the 1970's we had Home Economics for girls and Shop for boys. Home economics was sewing, cooking. Shop courses were Woodwork/Metalwork and Electricity/Drafting. Students deemed having a lower academic attitude were put into an occupational stream and learned trade skills. From about 1990 to 2010 students were required to master some sort of skill that could be applied in work situations. It's called an Applied Skill. Students were encouraged to pursue careers in the trades. It turns out that everyone needs applied skills, and that people who work on the trades need a whole host of other skills such as communications, mathematics and the skills of science.

Technology means know-how. Sometimes technology means the fruit of scientific investigation, but unscientific people also have know-how and lots of it. Today's know-how is centered around computers and computer networks, but it also includes all the know-how it takes to make and create the things in our lives. Children are encouraged to learn basic computer coding and to understand how computers and software actually work. Robotics is an example of computer technology that requires coding.

In Grade 1 to 5 children are encouraged to explore technologies. We track and report what they are learning as they go through the different activities. Coding is an excellent choice and skills in coding today can be important to many careers such as project managers, IT professionals, engineers, scientists, and data analysts. In rural areas where specialists aren't available, people need to be quite flexible. For me, the skills to use coding and scripting to gather and analyze student data accelerated my career in educational administration.  In Grade 6 to 9 youth are required to engage in a program of study involving three modules or subtopics which we design together as we go through the planning process. I would highly recommend that one of those three be coding.  A single coding project brings together design, skills, and technologies.

Patterns in wood like this one are often made with a computer-driven device called a C&C.

As children grow into adults they grow in their skills but some themes emerge. We learn that designs improve as we use iterative (repeating) processes. The third napkin holder I make is likely to be better than the first. Practice helps with skills, and as we gain experience we also learn to choose the right tool for the job. Experience also lets us take on more complex tasks and not only solve our own problems, but the problems others have as well. Sometimes you have to mix and match your tools and technologies. Finally, we learn the power to plan ahead and how doing things in the right order can make all the difference. Now I know to finish the inside of my napkin holder before I glue it up.

Dates and Resources

What I'm up to

Working on learning plans is interesting and challenging work. I now have all the information from each one of you to finish the task. My goal is to finish by the end of this week, but I'm promising my aging physical body that I will not sit behind a computer all day.

Thanks for your uploads into SeeSaw. I'm still so focused on learning plans that I have yet to establish my routine. Responses will be random for another week. After that, it should settle down to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon to respond to SeeSaw uploads. SeeSaw participation and the quality of the uploads is exceeding all my expectations. Well done to all of you.

Tasks for You

  1. SLP signoff: You will need to sign off on the learning plans when they are done. I will advise you when they are done. Signing off does not mean you approve or agree with everything that's there or that it is error free. Signing off means you acknowledge that we worked together to create the document. I am responsible for what is written there. Procedure is:
    • Log into Encom
    • Click your child's name to go to their home page
    • Find SLP Parent/Guardian sign off and click
    • Follow the simple instructions entering your name and indicate your acknowledgment.
  2. Dated Samples: During the first two weeks of October I will need three samples of your child's work. Because we're using SeeSaw this should be easy, but for government requirements, I'll need a certain kind of sample. It has to be something that the child has written with their own hands. Not pictures of children doing work, not pictures of their books, but samples of the work they are doing such as a completed worksheet. Samples should look like 45 minutes to an hour's work.

Dates and Links

In the future I'll be putting ongoing useful information here.