Developing Creativity and Skills in Year 5 Design Technology Unit

Developing Creativity and Skills in Year 5 Design Technology Unit
Year 5 design technology curriculum

Author: Araba Annobil, Year 5 Leader

The Year 5 team continually seeks ways to nurture students' enquiring minds. Through our latest Design and Technology unit, "Textiles", students were tasked with creating a vessel to carry a teacher’s lunch. They were introduced to the design cycle, which allowed them to inquire, develop, create, and evaluate their projects. This approach built on our current CUSP curriculum and gave students more ownership over their learning and final products.

The unit began with watching pre-recorded videos of various staff explaining their need for a new lunchbox and detailing some of their requirements. These included foci, such as durability, sustainability, style and waterproofing. Following this learning activity, students formed groups to design lunch boxes based on their "client's" criteria. After redesigning, editing, and suggesting improvements to one another, students identified the key skills needed to complete their final products.

Students explored various materials and methods of joining before narrowing down their options to fit the client's brief. This process allowed them to apply skills learned in Year 4 Design and Technology units, such as sewing, attaching fastenings, and strengthening joins from their previous unit on structures. They also acquired new skills relevant to the design cycle's create stage. Throughout the project, students were encouraged to collaborate, evaluate at different stages, and utilise their perseverance and creativity character strengths.

After researching and drawing from their own lunch container experiences, students sought feedback from their peers to refine their ideas. It was a valuable lesson for them to realise that they could revisit the design stages of 'inquire' and 'develop' multiple times before finalising their plan. They also learned that adjustments might still be necessary during the creation stage. This process helped them understand that being able to adapt during the learning process was a strength, not a weakness. Our students showed resilience and determination to overcome the challenges they faced.

Our students' creativity, passion, resilience and problem-solving ability impressed our teachers. If a student found that their initial idea had not been successful, they drew on the expertise of others and their own bank of ideas to problem solve and try again. Students were grateful to be able to devote time to their projects, and their engagement and extension of ideas were evident over the course of the unit. For many, what started as a design of a simple lunch box evolved into lunch bags with straps and handles, and even attachments including water bottle holders and compartments for snacks and cutlery. The beauty of enabling students to learn this way is that they naturally developed their ideas and extended their learning as the unit progressed.  Teachers were able to provoke higher-order thinking through questioning and being on hand to support students who needed a different level of challenge. Each student achieved success, often enhancing their product with creative decorations. Some students were so engaged that they chose to continue their learning at home.

The unit finished with an "evaluate" stage, where students self-assessed their products using a rubric, identifying growth areas at each design process stage. They rated their progress on a scale from beginner to mastery, with their assessments confirmed by their class teacher.

Students reflected on their enjoyment of the task and the new skills they had acquired, both practical skills, such as sewing and joining different materials and soft skills, such as problem-solving, collaboration, decision-making, communication, and evaluation.

Evidently, a love of learning was central to this Year 5 Design and Technology unit, students benefited from taking a more active role in their learning journey.

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Year 5 explaining their designs to Mr McCarthy

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