New High School Graphic Design Program

Posted on Nov 11, 2015 by Jessi Fisk Latest activity: Mar 27, 2017

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Hello everyone. The high school I teach at will be offering a graphic design class for the first time next year. I'm starting the program and am currently in the process of creating an outline for curriculum. I would love to have input from anyone who currently teaches high school graphic design classes or has experience in this area. Any input or suggestions you have will be greatly appreciated.

Which Adobe program/s do you recommend I start with?

My school has 1 hour periods 5 days/week. Would it be possible to cover Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign in a year long course? If so, am I on the right track starting with those programs or do you have other suggestions that would be better?

I hope to grow the program over the next few years into Graphic Design 1, Graphic Design 2, and also offer it as an option in our AP Art (portfolio/college credit class). I'm looking for guidance into what each of these should cover. Basics of several programs in Graphics 1 and then cover the same programs more in depth in Graphics 2? Or introduce new programs as students advance?

Again any input you can give will help. Thanks in advance!

Comments (59)

Fred Benitez

Posted on Mar 27, 2017 6:48 PM - Permalink

I have some stuff stored on Google Drive that I share out to my teachers. This was, pretty much, my entire first semester of instruction and projects. There are some practice pages in the beginning, but then I stop using them once the kids are off creating on their own. Please feel free to use these as you'd like or modify them to fit your needs:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-2YC_eK2M8eZUhmQnBUZm5BUk0

Tamara Wilson

Posted on Mar 27, 2017 7:03 PM - Permalink

Thank you so much Fred. I knew when I met you are TCEA that you were alright!!!!

LaDonna LaValle

Posted on Mar 17, 2017 1:00 AM - Permalink

I will be in the same boat as you. I will be starting to teach Digital Media/Multimedia Design ​for the first time in the fall. Any resources or tips, please pass along.

Gwen Meltzer

Posted on Feb 11, 2017 1:20 AM - Permalink

​I've been teaching graphic design/digital imaging, photography and CAD for the past 12 years at the high school level. In my school, students were required to take Art I before taking any of the digital courses. This year, I designed a new course Intro to Digital Design that students can take in lieu of Art I. In this new course, students learn Illustrator in the 1st marking period, Photoshop in the 2nd, InDesign in the 3rd and for the 4th, they choose which of the three to use. In the very beginning of the school year, students learn to navigate through the operating system. (we use macs). This way they learn to set up folders on the school server and know where to save their work. Also, I generally follow this loose pattern when teaching, regardless of content: Introduction (why learn this), tutorials (practice mechanics), quiz (terminology) and projects (thumbnail sketches, prints, critiques).

Georgia Filippou

Posted on Feb 8, 2017 9:52 PM - Permalink

I use Indesign, illustrator and photoshop programs to create teaching materials for language teachers and for my own classes so teaching graphic design is not my area. However, I do teach high school students. Given that all of them write essays, reports and so on as part of their routine homework tasks all year round, an area to concentrate on first might be indesign since this is a program they can actually use and practise on for projects outside your class. Also, your students may already have wondered how to make their essays look better and more professional like, so I think that this will get their attention from the start.

Gerard Raap

Posted on Feb 6, 2017 2:32 PM - Permalink

I have been teaching Graphic Design & Illustration for 5 years at public school north of Houston Texas. We are on a block schedule so students meet ninety minutes every other day. I like to start the Fall semester with Illustrator and InDesign and then work with Photoshop and digital photography in the Spring semester. Take a look at my website of you are looking for some help www.gerardraap.com. Good Luck!

Joan Rice

Posted on Jan 9, 2017 2:42 PM - Permalink

​Hi, I teach Graphic Design at a Special Needs School. I use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I also just started this program and I found that teaching the basics is the best way to proceed. How to create a new document, the toolbox how each tool is used. I created different projects using the same tools over and over again until they were comfortable using them.

clark semple

Posted on Nov 16, 2016 1:10 AM - Permalink

​HI Jesse:

I taught a graphic design/multi-media class a year or two ago. It came as a surprise since I normally do not teach graphics, I am an animation ( 80%)/ art one teacher(20%). Anyway , I put together a WIX site that might give you some ideas. I only used it for a year ! You are more than welcome to use any ideas that you might gleen from it. The site's URL is:

htttp://semple6.wix.com/multi-one-semple

If you would like to use it, I can change the password and then give it to you , then you can re-password it....I am retired!

you can reach me at semplec@hotmail.com

crissie ballard

Posted on Nov 16, 2016 4:30 PM - Permalink

​If she doesn't want it I'll take it!

andres rodriguez

Posted on Dec 7, 2016 6:12 PM - Permalink

same here. i could definitely use it

Patricia Rivera

Posted on Jan 16, 2017 9:51 PM - Permalink

If you don't mind I too would like information for your page. I teach Multimedia and Graphic Design for the past year and would like to expand on the curriculum that I am using. I saw your site and the work the students are producing. I would really like to get to this level.

Thank you,​

Camille Dogbe

Posted on Jan 23, 2017 2:32 AM - Permalink

Thank you for sharing your site Clark. It contains such useful info. I teach multimedia classes as well and has given me some other types of projects that will help push necessary skills in PS, AI, and ID. I would love to use it, if that is okay with you?

Ashley Herndon

Posted on Mar 2, 2017 3:33 PM - Permalink

I would really like to use it if possible.​

Peggy Cook

Posted on Nov 1, 2016 5:19 PM - Permalink

​I teach in Katy ISD near Houston, Texas. The 1st semester I teach Illustrator and Photoshop. The 2nd semester I teach animate and Autodesk 3D Max/Maya.

Ashley Herndon

Posted on Mar 2, 2017 3:34 PM - Permalink

I was looking at art teaching jobs in Katy. How do you like it?​

Nelshah Reilly

Posted on Oct 12, 2016 4:33 PM - Permalink

I've been teaching computer graphics for the past 7 years to high school students grades 10-12. I start in Gr. 10 with Illustrator and Flash (students love animating), Gr. 11 with photoshop (easier transition if they know Illustrator first as pp mentioned), Gr. 12 with InDesign and advanced Illustrator/Photoshop techniques. I use Adobe's Classroom in a Book and find it really helps students really learn all the ins and outs of the tools/software. I always have students coming back from University/College saying that they knew so much more because of the course content. We are currently switching over to CC and I'm finding that I have to think of graphic design theory assignments as none of my software is currently installed. If anyone has any assignments they'd like to share please let me know. It would be a great help. Hopefully I was of help to you as well.

Michelle Fredricks

Posted on Oct 7, 2016 9:51 PM - Permalink

​As someone who has tutored in graphic/web design and photography for 3 years and has over 10 years in the experience in the field, I would say to start with Photoshop and then move to other programs. Kids love photos whether it be taking selfies or posting on social media, so starting with a program where they could edit these more extensively would really draw them in. Technically, you would be able to introduce them to these programs, but not as much in depth as these are 3 complex programs that all focus on different areas of design.

What would have been helpful for me in high school would be to see how these programs apply in the real world and what types of careers could come out of using these programs. Maybe have some speakers who work in the industry (photographer for Photoshop, a Digital Illustrator for Illustrator and a Publications Layout Specialist for InDesign) come in and talk about what they do? Just a thought! Good luck!

Jorge Pena

Posted on Sep 23, 2016 3:30 PM - Permalink

​Hi i am new to this can someone help me

Jamie Steffl

Posted on Aug 5, 2016 4:01 PM - Permalink

We are also adding graphic design to our advanced curriculum.Great and helpful post.

ASHLEY ORDONEZ

Posted on May 17, 2016 6:09 PM - Permalink

I have been working in design and the printing fields for the past 40+ years. What I've discovered is, a lot of students are learning the software side without knowing the why things need to be a certain way. For example, what is created in Illustrator for print may need modified for social, and then each social media has different dimensions. First teach the "what is this piece going to be used for". Then teach how to get there, first Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, InCopy, etc.

Robbie Collett

Posted on May 17, 2016 5:36 PM - Permalink

I taught graphic design for 3 years to grades 7–9. Here's the most important lessons I learned:

  • Teach Illustrator before Photoshop. The transition is easier.
  • Use an LMS. If your school/district doesn't have one, use Canvas if they still do their free-for-teachers edition. Then you can record short software tutorials, put them in assignments in the LMS, and students can work through them at their own pace. They can upload images as their assignment submission and you can grade easily that way.
  • I always taught technical first, then principles of design. It's a lot easier to grasp graphic design concepts when they're not simultaneously trying to figure out how to use the software, as well as having played around with designs.
  • Teach 1-2 tools at a time, and come up with fun, easy assignments that help students focus on just those tools. Later you can give assignments and projects and they'll have to figure out the tools to use.
  • Give them as real projects as possible. For example, I worked with the theatre teacher and she had my students design posters to advertise the upcoming play, which we would print out and hang around the school. I'd also have them make t-shirts and stickers.
  • Print out your favorite student assignments and hang them around the room. Every time I did this, there would be a commotion near the wall as students wanted to see if their assignment made it up. I never put students' names on them, and I made no effort to make sure everyone was included. I don't believe in the trophy-for-everyone mentality. One of my students tried hard all year to get on the wall (so he told me), and one day he did, and it made his week.

You're welcome to peruse my Canvas courses and steal any assignment ideas you want:

PHOEBE WETHERBEE

Posted on Jul 11, 2016 5:34 PM - Permalink

I have been working with Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign for years, but have just been tasked with teaching them in a Graphic Design course. I feel like I hit the motherlode with your links, so to speak :)

I know you said "steal any assignment ideas you want," but your video tutorials are great as well. Do you mind if I use those?

Dawn McCain

Posted on Aug 14, 2016 8:17 PM - Permalink

Hi Robbie,

I was wondering if you could resend the second link the one for https://canvas.instructure.com/courses/924160. Every time I click on it, it asks me to log into Canvas, however, when I click on the first link it does not request a log in.

I have been teaching Graphic Design and Illustration the past 2 years, however been using the unt Cte site and I feel, although thankful to have stuff, the projects are some what boring and would like to add more engaging assignments. Not to mention I will be teaching and advanced graphic design class and I will have 1 practicum student this year, so I am really needing to get my self-organized, because they will all be in the same class together.

Thanks for sharing and I look forward to hearing back from you. If you prefer to email, you can email me at dawn_mccain@allenisd.org

Thanks,

Dawn

jp castillo

Posted on Aug 24, 2016 3:18 PM - Permalink

Hello Robbie!

Thank you so much for sharing your canvas pages! Like others, I have been using photoshop and illustrator for many years but am trying to come up with lessons in my high school class in a very short amount of time and seeing your lesson plans and tutorials is a God send! If it is not too much trouble would you be comfortable sharing the project files for your illustrator / photoshop lessons? you can also email me at john_castillo@nvusd.org

Latia Murray

Posted on Aug 31, 2016 7:20 PM - Permalink

Hello, I'm new as well. Can I have permission to use ideas from your course for illustrator, photoshp, and premier? My email is murray.latia@elkcityschools.com.

Many thanks!

Katie Wollman

Posted on Sep 12, 2016 2:58 PM - Permalink

Hi, Robbie—

Came across this discussion and I've been looking through your course. I'm teaching Digital Media to an upper school class—mainly Illustrator and Photoshop—and I'm so impressed by how well you've organized the course! Could you let me know what files/resources you're open to sharing? ​kwollman@boyslatinmd.com

Blanca Schnobrich

Posted on Oct 3, 2016 6:22 PM - Permalink

I think Robbie's advice is great and I agree with most all of it! I've been teaching graphic design for seven years, 9-12th grade. I agree Illustrator before Photoshop or you'll have a lot of grumbling when you try to go the other way. Many kids have dappled with Photoshop so they are happy to go to Ps after the challenging new venture of Ai. If you start the year with Ai, they are in better spirits to learn a new program that they've likely not used before.

Graphic design curriculum can be overwhelming and each year I try to refocus my efforts. I'm happy with what I am doing this year: teaching elements of art, and using Adobe Illustrator for projects in each area-- line, shape, color, texture, space and value. With each element, I introduce a project that also teaches them a couple of Ai tools. It's working really well and keeps my curriculum structured and purposeful with a plan in place. Otherwise, I had felt that I was just jumping from project to project. Since our graphic design courses meet UC art requirements, I need to teach elements and principles of art. As an example of a project: I taught them about the element of color, the project associated with this element of art was creating a color wheel, which involved learning about how to create shapes (circle) in Ai, as well as the pathfinder tool to divide shapes. They also learned about adding color to shapes through this project.

Once done with elements and principles, I will then go back to assigning projects that will let them figure out the best ways to achieve their desired results: movie posters, logo development, Christmas cards, invitations, photo collages (Ps), etc.

An essential thing to teach them (and remind them about with each project), is that graphic design is visual communication! They are making choices of colors and graphic elements to communicate! Are they being effective in their choices? Peer assessments are helpful with this and I give them time to change things or revised their finished piece based on class/teacher feedback.

Danelle Landgraf

Posted on Oct 12, 2016 6:38 PM - Permalink

Hi Robbie

I just went to your canvas pages and they look great -- any chance you would be willing to share it to commons?

Thanks!

Dyane Goldman

Posted on Nov 3, 2016 4:29 AM - Permalink

Hi Robbie,

Great content, I tried to access your canvas site but apparently one need permission. I would be grateful to see your planning. I teach Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects and might throw in Illustrator and inDesign this year as well. I put everything on Google Classroom and my website but would love to see you.

Thank you

Dyane

Wajeeha Zia

Posted on Dec 13, 2016 5:14 PM - Permalink

Hi Robbie,

You got pretty brilliant stuff. Thank you so much ​for sharing. I have been working with Photoshop and illustrator for quiet some time. If you don't mind can I use these tutorials too?

Again great work :)

Thanks

Tamarah President

Posted on Jan 14, 2017 2:06 PM - Permalink

Hello Robbie,

Can please you allow access so I can import elements from both links into my canvas course?​

Thanks,
​Tamarah

Patricia Rivera

Posted on Jan 16, 2017 10:21 PM - Permalink

Thank you for sharing your Canvas pages. Like others I am impressed and would like to know how I can get access to your resources? Thank you

privera@stocktonusd.net

Camille Dogbe

Posted on Jan 23, 2017 2:47 AM - Permalink

Thank you for sharing your sites with us! Great content.

maria sullivan

Posted on Mar 1, 2017 2:36 PM - Permalink

Hi there, I took a look at your files. They are very well put together. Would you mind if I used some of your photoshop projects? This is the best organization of the programs I have ever seen.

Ashley Herndon

Posted on Mar 2, 2017 3:42 PM - Permalink

Hello. I am Ashley and I have been teaching graphics for 2 yrs. after being a fine art teacher for 6 yrs. ​It is difficult knowing what to teach, when and having the lessons build as you go along to add more concepts. Your info is very useful and I really appreciate it!!

Blanca Schnobrich

Posted on Mar 2, 2017 4:02 PM - Permalink

Robbie,

Can I have access? I love your organized structure. I can see your assignments but all of them are locked. Is there a way I can delve further into each assignment to see the details? I tried using my Canvas log in, but it's specific to my school's account and didn't work. Please help! I'd appreciate it. Here is my email address if you prefer emailing me directly: bschnobrich@oakschristian.org.​

sylvie verwaayen

Posted on Jan 29, 2016 8:00 PM - Permalink

Anyone out there ever used the Visual Quick Start Guides for various software. They were my go to books when I taught at the local college. Well written and well priced. Cheers!

sylvie verwaayen

Posted on Jan 29, 2016 7:58 PM - Permalink

Personally I would start with Photoshop, then Illustrator and then InDesign. I have taught and created design courses from scratch for over 20 years. I created a 54 hour night course for a local college that went into design principles, RGB vs CMYK, typography, vector vs raster (pixels) and then went into the software. At the end we discussed file extensions and output to press, printer or presentation.

Tamara Wilson

Posted on Aug 15, 2016 9:02 PM - Permalink

Hi there Sylvie. Would you happen to have any lesson plans that you would't mind sharing for a 1st year Graphic Design teacher.

Isabel Sofas

Posted on Feb 9, 2017 6:54 PM - Permalink

I agree with this, you need to start from lowest level to higher.

Jerome Zaccone

Posted on Jan 8, 2016 9:54 PM - Permalink

Jessi, I should have said that I have been a high school graphic design teacher for 16 years; I have also worked in the field for 30 years and I still own my own design and print shop. The Against the Clock books are REAL LIFE graphic arts not YouTube videos.

Jerome Zaccone

Posted on Jan 8, 2016 9:50 PM - Permalink

Hello Jessi, I read through some of this discussion but I think what you need, really need, is the classroom books from Against The Clock. https://www.againsttheclock.com/

These are wonderful books that take the student through real life design projects including comments from the "Client" and the "Art Director". If you contact them they will send you a free book to review. I suggest the book called Design Portfolio CS5: InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. I ordered enough books for my class (25) and copied all of the files onto an external drive. and share them electronically with the students. They are fun, comprehensive and challenging. They include PowerPoint presentations for each chapter, review questions/answers, and all the TESTS! I would love to hear your response to these publications (I don't work for them).

Jay Zaccone

zacconej@nashua.edu

Jessi Fisk

Posted on Jan 27, 2016 6:54 PM - Permalink

Jerome,

I ordered and received my free book from Against the Clock. It is awesome! Thank you so much for the suggestion.

Michael Panasuk

Posted on Jan 7, 2016 9:43 PM - Permalink

We're looking to do something similar - thanks for posting!

Gary Poulton

Posted on Dec 11, 2015 1:40 AM - Permalink

Take a wander through the Design section here http://rewired.edublogs.org/

Most supporting tutorials are linked but files are not accessible however if you'd like the stuff used for Photoshop I could send it across. Student course overviews for Photoshop, Illustrator might give you some idea of what's possible inside of 10 week blocks. However if you have only 1 hour per week you might have to cut or modify a little.

Gary

Jessi Fisk

Posted on Jan 8, 2016 8:26 PM - Permalink

Thank you so much! The link you posted was very helpful. My students loved checking out the projects you do in class. I would greatly appreciate any other material/information you have and are willing to share.

Brandy Milson

Posted on May 13, 2016 12:01 AM - Permalink

This is so Awesome. Can i use... Im struggling as I just got this class this year and I am a video productions teacher learning these programs myself. I wish I had your resource files. This is way cool

Brandy Milson

Posted on May 13, 2016 12:01 AM - Permalink

This is so Awesome. Can i use... Im struggling as I just got this class this year and I am a video productions teacher learning these programs myself. I wish I had your resource files. This is way cool

Jessica Gauci

Posted on Nov 25, 2015 2:28 AM - Permalink

I would recommend starting with Adobe Photoshop completing a basic project / activity such as designing a poster on a global or community issue etc Students can learn the basics of Photoshop and become familiar with easy tools like the selection tools, text, colour while also learning design principles and elements. I would then set other more complex tasks in Photoshop then move onto Adobe Illustrator afterwards. In my experience Photoshop - then Illustrator - then InDesign seem to be a good order.

Jessi Fisk

Posted on Jan 8, 2016 6:54 PM - Permalink

Great! Thanks for your suggestion.

Teri Brudnak

Posted on Nov 24, 2015 6:22 PM - Permalink

Hi Jessi,
Happy to share my experiences. Been teaching digital media classes since 1999. In my Graphic Design class we always start with drawing. Just paper and a wood pencil--no mechanical pencils allowed. Line, basic shapes, overlap, scale, etc. I teach them how to make thumbnail sketches with simple shapes and introduce them to the Elements of Art. After a basic intro to the tools of the program and the foundations of computer graphics (vector vs raster, color modes, etc) they do a design project called Black Square. You can find this and other projects in the book Visual Literacy.
Other great books to mine for your lessons are the Index series by Jim Krause. Design Basics Index, Idea Index, Layout Index and I think he has one on color. I also love the WOW books for more advanced projects.
We explore a lot of artists and I do a lesson on the Bauhaus design school.
Just finished a character design project with my class based on the Tokidoki characters. You can find some videos on Lynda.com about the artist Simone and his company.

Jessi Fisk

Posted on Jan 8, 2016 7:02 PM - Permalink

I picked up the Designer's Complete Index by Jim Krause over winter break. It has been a great resource for me. Thanks!

Jessi Fisk

Posted on Jan 8, 2016 7:02 PM - Permalink

I picked up the Designer's Complete Index by Jim Krause over winter break. It has been a great resource for me. Thanks!

steven zeichner

Posted on Nov 18, 2015 4:07 PM - Permalink

I have 25+ years experience teaching Comprehensive Tech. Ed. with 12+ in Graphic Arts. I teach both Graphics 1 & 2, Grades 9-12, in 90 minute blocks. I use Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign if there is time in this order. Over the years I've experimented and finally settled on this order because it seems to work better for the students. Many available workbooks are also written in this order. Also, the learning curve for PS also appears shorter when introducing AI first.

I begin the Graphics 1 course with 1 or 2 class sessions on fundamentals, i.e., why do we need different programs, vector vs raster images. I will give several HW assignments asking students to identify occupations in which Graphic Arts might be used, or to bring examples of raster and vector images and explain why one is used over the other. We discuss career opportunities and use the information later using InDesign to create a booklet for the Guidance Dept.

In Illustrator, I begin with the shape tools, explaining how every illustration can usually be broken down into basic shapes. I have basic exercises requiring the use of the rulers, creating guides at specific locations, and creating simple illustrations specifying both location on the grid and dimensions. The first five or six exercises build on the previous design so we aren't starting from scratch and students can see the progression of the design. In successive exercises we learn the Pen, Pencil, and Brush tools, add additional details to the design, add fill and stroke colors, use various cutting tools, etc. My final exercise is to give the students an illustration and ask them to duplicate it, allowing for artistic license, without giving any instructions so they draw on learned knowledge. They can get very creative. We then work on projects such as logo design, I have them create a design depicting one of the four seasons, a travel poster, etc.

PS is similar in that I start with the basic tools after explaining fundamental differences and similarities with AI; work spaces, artboard vs canvas. I begin with the brushes and again use simple designs that build in successive exercises, introducing additional tools; layers, selections, etc. I also have themed projects to reinforce fundamentals of design, tool use, and problem-solving. For example, create-a-pet. They take parts of several animals and combine, blend, and color to create something new. They use various selection tools, brushes, etc.

I hope this is useful information. If you have specific questions please ask. I am working on posting several of the projects I've had success with but haven't finished writing them up.

Jessi Fisk

Posted on Nov 18, 2015 4:55 PM - Permalink

This is so helpful. Thank you! I look forward to seeing some of the projects you post.

Jesse Cole

Posted on Nov 12, 2015 5:51 PM - Permalink

I teach Honor Digital and Interactive Media, I always start with Photoshop. Photoshop layout make it easy to understand the tools, how the option bar works, how layers and blend modes interact. I then move on to Illustrator so they can start the graphic design process.

Jessi Fisk

Posted on Nov 13, 2015 7:25 PM - Permalink

Thank you for the recommendation. I appreciate it.

Betsy Verb

Posted on Nov 12, 2015 2:22 PM - Permalink

I've been teaching Graphic Design for 10 years in year long classes. I typically start out with Illustrator then Photoshop and finish up with InDesign. The range of students I teach are grades 6-12. The courses for Middle School are different than my Upper School but it's easy to give the students a good start with those three programs throughout a year.

Jessi Fisk

Posted on Nov 13, 2015 7:31 PM - Permalink

Thank you for the information. Do you teach any other programs with your upper-level students? Or focus on those programs extensively?