HPL in focus: Design Technology
As teachers, we are constantly looking for innovative and effective ways to enhance student learning and elevate student achievement. High Performance Learning (HPL) is an approach that has been gaining traction at St Mary’s recently, and it has proven to have great potential to make a huge impact in our Design Technology (DT) classrooms.
HPL focuses on developing higher order critical thinking skills, problem-solving, independent learning and creating an environment of collaboration and inquiry, that helps to equip students with the necessary skills to create, innovate, and excel in their education. Through High Performance Learning students are provided with the opportunity to grow and develop both academically and socially.
HPL in Design Technology
In the context of the DT classroom, HPL has offered a comprehensive framework for learning that prioritises the development of creative thinking and practical skills, alongside Values, Attributes and Attitudes (VAAs) that enable students to excel in an ever-changing world. Through HPL, students are empowered to take ownership of their education through accelerated learning techniques, which means that they are given opportunities to apply and practise their skills in various contexts in DT.
One of the most significant benefits of using HPL in the DT classroom is that it promotes a mindset shift among students, encouraging them to view learning as a continuous and progressive process rather than a destination. As a result, students are motivated to take risks and try new things, which can be seen in their lesson outcomes and participation in extra-curricular clubs and competitions.
Additionally, the 6R's of sustainability that we have been focusing on in DT this year are integrated into HPL, which enables students to develop an appreciation for environment and to see how they can contribute to a more sustainable future through their designs.
This year in focus
This year we have been applying a high level of creative thinking and problem-solving skills to break rules when designing something new.
In Year 7 Textiles, learning has focused on basic core skills with the 'Repair' element of the sustainable '6Rs'. Students have learned basic practical hand and sewing machine skills through focused tasks and have built confidence in working with a range of fabrics, tools and equipment. Similarly, in Woodwork, students have developed confidence with the use of workshop tools to measure, cut, drill and assemble bench hooks and bug hotels with a focus on 'Rethinking' how good, functional designs can be created from limited materials.
In Year 8 Textiles lessons we have investigated creative opportunities using the concept of culture and 'Reuse' by converting old cotton bed sheeting to a new pair of tie-dye shorts. In Resistant Materials, students have been innovative when making functional jewellery from perspex whilst exploring how to 'Reduce' plastic waste.
DT students in Year 9 were challenged to apply deeper levels of thinking when investigating the impact of throw-away fashion and paper waste in society. They found creative solutions when 'Reusing' an old garment to create a new item of clothing and 'Recycling' old paper to produce decorative hanging mobiles. Both Year 9 DT projects highlight a user-centred approach, particularly how the needs and wants as well as function are important when designing in a sustainable way.
Building values, skills and attitudes for the future
All these projects and activities enhance student independent learning and promote HPL in DT. The use of design thinking and other skills allows students to develop critical and creative reasoning abilities, which are key to success in DT and in life.
Additionally, teamwork and risk-taking have been important in many projects. Students have learned to collaborate and communicate effectively with each other to attain goals, and have been encouraged to push beyond their comfort zone to achieve their full potential. This has particularly been evident in our GCSE and A Level classes in the production of independent coursework studies.
HPL strategies in DT have resulting in great benefits for students. Not only have they developed core skills in a fun, engaging way, they have gained valuable life skills that will help them succeed in the future. Furthermore, their enthusiasm and motivation to learn has greatly increased, and as a result their enjoyment of studying has grown.
There are some challenges associated with implementing HPL strategies in DT. These includes time constraints, resources, and a need for specialised training for teachers. Nevertheless, we have overcome these challenges by finding creative solutions and collaborating with other educators and stakeholders to develop workable solutions.
Overall, we believe the use of High Performance Learning in the DT classroom is a powerful tool for promoting student engagement and achievement. By continuing to focus on the development of core skills, critical thinking skills, and creativity, we can help our students to become confident, successful, and lifelong learners who possess empathetic values for environment and respect for good sustainable design in the products we use every day.
Maria Kakengi, Head of Design Technology & Textiles
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