How to document and reflect upon innovative class projects?

Looking for a classroom tool that helps capture innovative student projects and thinking

Photo of susan bitetti
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As we embrace more engineering and design projects in our classrooms, a whole new set of challenges is presented to both teachers and students. Assessing projects that aren’t designed to have a “right or wrong” answer can be difficult to grade or assess and also difficult for students to reflect upon. With a documentation station set up in the classroom, students can take quick snapshots of their project at its various stages and include either writings or voice recordings that can upload to the teacher’s desktop, folder, class website, or whatever entity is convenient. Teachers can establish at the beginning of class if there are certain prompts they want to be captured for the given assignment or how frequently they want students to use the station.

Part of the hope in incorporating a documentation station into a classroom setting is to help support teachers take on innovative and perhaps “out of the norm” assignments. Such assignments can be hard to monitor in real time, grade, and regiment. Innovative teaching lessons and projects call for innovative tools and outside of the traditional worksheets and grading methods.

I am currently prototyping a station with this general set-up in mind (see image above) paired with a camera with a wifi enabled SD card that automatically uploads images onto an administrator’s computer. Other iterations have involved various ipad apps that allows students to upload images, text, and voice recordings. However, working with ipads and even having enough ipads for each student presents its own challenges. 


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Photo of Garth
Team

The documentation of thinking is so vital to the success of all we are trying to do here in the "Teachers' Guild". I am in the process of building a similar 'documentation station' at my school complete with camera and microphone, as well as leveraging the power of OneNote to document and share ideas.

Last year, I realized the importance that you have articulated here of documenting. It helps everyone see learning as a process, and promotes reflection and iteration.

Check out my submission here: https://goo.gl/WLUiat I'd love to hear your thoughts on my "Thought Books" idea!

Thanks,
garth.

Photo of susan bitetti
Team

Thanks so much for your feedback, Garth! We definitely share a similar mindset here. I think 'thought books' and documentation in general is a huge part of project-based learning and the sort of activities students might take on in a maker's space setting as you mentioned. I would love to hear more about the thought books: how much were the students prompted by teachers vs it being a self-directed activity? What sort of projects have you noticed students documenting most?

Also, for your set-up of a "documentation station" where do the photos end up? Or are the students able to print off the photos locally? Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Best,
Susan

Photo of Garth
Team

We primarily focus on the prompts of divergent and design thinking stages. So in one way, it is prompted by teachers as a reflection time after intense collaboration, but then the students are given sort of free-reign over their use. As I said in my project (https://goo.gl/ukI1cl) they are not used for assessment or evaluation, but rather as a time for students to internalize the work, and iterate.

Projects that involved an entreprenseurial mindset (i.e. real world challenge and solutions) get students most engaged, because the outcomes are more 'real' to them. 'Hey, student A, you are going to need to sell this to an entire class of Grade 7s, what are their needs?" They love it!

Great question re: photos. They end up on our school twitter feed, and are loaded into student portfolios using OneNote. When we have presentations they will be printed off as part of the experience for sure.

Thanks,
garth.

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