Documenting Maker Projects
All educators struggle with how to assess projects. We know that the final product is not always the clearest or best display of the learning and thinking that the student experienced. Helping students to document and reflect on their projects in process helps to make the learning visible for the students and for their teachers. This is useful for both informal and formal assessments of student learning.
Documentation, reflection, and assessment frameworks must be context specific. Below, we provide some ideas to help guide you in creating these protocols for your students.
A few principles to build from:
- Allow students to use a variety of media for documentation, such as photos, video, and writing. Create different possibilities for students to find the best way to express what they are really thinking and doing.
- Find ways to create an authentic audience for the documentation as well as the project. Students shouldn’t feel like they are just documenting for the teacher. Students can create public blogs, video journals, or physical displays to publicly display their thinking as well as their projects.
- Make the documentation an organic and expected part of the process. When documentation feels like it is added without reason, students struggle to engage with the documentation process. Help students consider how in-process documentation and reflection can help them adapt and improve the project they are working on. Help them see the value of taking time to stop and think.
Guiding questions for students:
Without reflection there is very little point to documentation – and very little learning, as well. Provide some guiding questions for students as part of your documentation framework. The following are a few ideas for formative and summative reflection:
- Formative Reflection: Have students respond to the following prompts each day while working on a longer project. Consider having students create this reflection as an audio recording over an image or video of their project in process:
- What I did today…
- What I thought about today…
- What I plan to do tomorrow…
- Summative Reflection: Have students respond to the following prompts after completing a project; if it is a longer project ask them to review their summative reflections and take note of how their thinking changed over the course of the project. Consider having students create this final reflection as an edited video with a combination of photos and videos of their project as it developed, and add commentary on the guiding questions as a voiceover.
- What are you most proud of learning or doing while completing this project?
- What challenges have you overcome?
- If you were to continue with this project or create a new version, what would you work on next and why?
Documenting Maker Projects with Stephanie Chang from Maker Ed
For more guidance, watch highlights from Stephanie Chang’s webinar presentation on creating maker portfolios:
Resources you may also want to explore:
- Project Zero’s Visible Thinking group has created a set of thinking routines that can be integrated into student reflection processes to help clarify and share their thinking about project decisions and learnings.
- The Open Portfolio Project from the Maker Education Initiative is researching and preparing resources to determine and facilitate best practices in student project documentation.
- Documenting and Assessing Learning in Informal and Media-Rich Environments is a report prepared as part of the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning initiatives.