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Supporting project based learning with learning diaries

INTO

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INTO is an innovation for carrying out a goal oriented and analytical crafts process. In this innovation the student will plan, recognize, verbalize and document a crafts project and the associated learning phases by keeping notes in their digital learning diary.
Introduction

What is it all about?

“The idea of using learning diaries will spread best through experimentation and then sharing these experiences between teachers.”

- Jaana Anttonen, teacher, Oulu Normal School

In these fractured and hectic times, being able to see the bigger picture, concentrate and carry out a long-term project from start to finish are skills that will be needed more and more. Carrying out and completely a creative project also builds critical thinking skills, evaluation skills and fine motor skills.

In Finnish schools crafts is a subject in which students interact with different making materials, they design products and are able to creatively express themselves. The activities include planning, producing, and assessing a product; and they can either work independently or in a group.

With crafts, a student can develop their spatial perception, motor skills, and planning skills in a creative way. Doing crafts is always experimental and gives students opportunities to make decisions such as which materials to use, how to implement the project, the visual design of the product, and the production process.

The crafts process teaches kids how to work long-term, plan and carry out projects phase by phase, as well as reflect on their learning and recognize areas of development. In addition to skills and understanding, crafts give students pleasurable experiences. These are all key parts of the Finnish Curriculum.

INTO focuses on a comprehensive crafts process, in which learning diaries have a central role in answering the challenges presented by the current fractured times and developing an evaluation model, which supports learning. Key points are:

  • Guiding the student to understand and handle an entire work process and document it.
  • Guiding a student to use digital tools to plan and produce a craft-based project/product, and document the process.
  • Guiding the student to assess, appreciate, and review their own and other’s entire process of a finished craft product in interaction with others.

 

In INTO learning diary projects, a student will plan, recognise, verbalize, and document the work process of a craft project as well as the associated learning phases in their digital learning diary. They will be guided to set goals for their learning and observe and evaluate their learning. This innovation presents step-by-step instructions for guiding a student through this process.

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Intended Outcomes
62
Views
9 - 13
Age Group
2016
Established
Resources Needed
Smart devices – a tablet or a phone, Arts and crafts school departments with making materials/equipment (depending on the project).
HundrED Criteria
innovativeness
impact
scalability
Having a crafts project that is digitally documented is a new way to teach skills needed in future work life.
The students will grow into adults who can observe and verbalize their own work as well as evaluate it.
Schools across the globe have the potential to have crafts projects that can be documented, and the learning diary can also be applied to other kinds of project based learning.
Steps

How do you implement it?

01

Planning and verbalizing the objects for goals and assessment

Write down what the goals for the crafts unit are and what will the students be required to do to reach the goals.

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What is the end product and what kind of steps are required to make it?

The goals will be presented to the students at the beginning of the unit in a way that suits their age.

Example: Stuffed toy project for 9–10-year-olds

The main goal of the project is that a student is able to plan a viable, machine sewn stuffed toy. It is best to verbalize this to the students in a way they understand: ‘The goal is that you plan a stuffed toy that you can sew with a machine.’

Talk with the students about what kind of stuffed toys they could sew. The goals can be written in children’s language and put in a place where the students can see them throughout the unit.

Other goals for the stuffed toy project written and verbalized for students:

  • The student is able to plan a viable, machine-sewn stuffed toy.
  • The student is able to make the product under guidance.
  • The student knows and is able to use proper crafts vocabulary.
  • The student takes responsibility for their own work and works towards the goals.
  • The student can use tools, machines and devices properly, correctly, safely, and purposefully.
  • The student is able to use a sewing machine.
  • The student is able to use a clothes iron.
  • The student is able to document their own work process.
  • The student is able to assess their own work and the end product.
02

The learning diary

Choose the devices and application students will use to make their digital learning diary.

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Possible devices include smartphones, tablets, or a camera and a computer. It is important that the devices or the device combination have the required properties for documenting steps in several ways, including pictures and videos. If technology is not readily available, this innovation could be adapted to have a physical learning diary in a notebook or scrapbook.

Choose the appropriate environment in which the learning diaries will be handed in at the end of the project. It is easiest for the teacher if they choose a digital environment in which students’ learning diaries can be viewed all at once, so that the teacher doesn’t need to go through the diaries device by device while doing continuous or summative evaluation.

As a device you could choose iPads and as the application Book Creator. The diary can be assembled as a portfolio or onto O365’s Notebook.

03

The planning and implementation of the learning diary contents

Plan what your students will document and how they will evaluate themselves in their learning diaries.

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A key part of the learning diary process is that students learn to document things that are relevant to the evaluation.

A learning diary can be used for a one-off crafts project, but to encourage the development of learning and thinking skills it is best to use the learning diaries from one year to the next as a continuous teaching tool. If used like this, every year can have their own focuses for documentation and evaluation.

Example:

Creating a learning diary is practiced over several school years. The documentation develops along with the students: at first the focus is on being able to take pictures and verbalize work steps, later moving onto the ability to set one’s own goals and evaluating one’s work based on these goals.

9–10-year-olds:

  • The student takes pictures and verbalizes work steps.

For example in the stuffed toy project:

“I planned a stuffed toy.”
“The pattern and seam allowance are ready.”
“The pattern has been attached to the cloth with bobby pins.”

10–11-year-olds:

  • The student takes pictures and verbalizes work steps.

11–12-year-olds:

  • The student takes pictures and verbalizes work steps
  • The student sets goals for themselves for progressing between work steps and evaluates the achievement of goals, i.e. practices self-evaluation.

For example:

“Next week’s goals: I’m going to finish writing in my learning diary and start sewing the edges.”
“I finished writing, but I am still sewing the edges.”

12–13-year-olds:

  • The student takes pictures and verbalizes work steps
  • The student sets goals for themselves for progressing between work steps and evaluates achievement of goals, i.e. practices self-evaluation.
  • The student practices peer evaluation.

Peer evaluation can be practiced either during the unit or at the end of it. The teacher can divide the students into pairs or groups that will evaluate and give feedback to each other; either through discussions or writing in the learning diaries.

Self evaluation

At the end of each crafts project, the student will evaluate the whole process. They can use questions (like these) to help them evaluate:

  • Comment on your previous goals and notes.
  • During which lesson did I do my best work? Why?
  • During which lesson did I achieve what I hoped for? Why or why not?
  • What changes should I make to succeed next time?
  • Are there other things I could have considered?
  • What things did I learn that I can use in my next work? e.g. goal setting.

The learning diaries are part of the unit grade. They practice the students’ ability to systematically recognize the learning process and document their work. The focus should be on how well students are able to work towards goals, self and peer evaluate, and their ability to use crafts vocabulary.

04

Guiding students with feedback

Plan the way you will give students feedback so that it guides students through the craft project and the work with the learning diary.

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The feedback is meant to help students to progress and develop their working skills.

Will the feedback be given interactively during lessons or will you also give feedback on the digital platform?

Example:

A structure for giving guiding feedback during different phases of the work process and for different aged children.

A) At the start of the project, instruct your students in making a digital learning diary.

9–11-year-olds:

  • Write a cover page, on which you write “Learning Diary, the name of the work (e.g. Stuffed animal), your name, and your class.”
  • Take a picture of every work step and name them.
  • At the end of the process, write a self evaluation of the whole unit.

11–13-year-olds:

  • Write a cover page, on which you write “Learning Diary, the name of the work (e.g. Stuffed animal), your name, and your class.”
  • Take a picture of every work step and name them.
  • Set goals for your own work at the beginning of the first lesson in the unit.
  • At the end of the lessons, think about whether you reached your goals.
    • Why did you reach them?
    • Why didn’t you reach them?
    • Was the goal realistic?
  • At the end of the process, write a self evaluation of the whole unit.

B) Guide and encourage students to write in the learning diaries and give feedback to them throughout the process. Remind students about taking pictures and naming the work steps, as well as the importance of evaluation.

05

Assessment discussion and summative peer review

At the end of the unit, it is best to organise an evaluation discussion and summative peer review.

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In the evaluation discussion, the teacher will go through the work process with a student with the help of the learning diary. The teacher gives feedback based on the goals and assessment criteria of the unit.

In peer review, students will present their final product and their learning diary, and tell others what they have achieved and what they still need to work on. Students will give constructive feedback to each other based on the product, the learning diary, and their work.

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Contact

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Jaana Anttonen