Documenting negotiated projects

For the last two weeks I have been working with a different group on a negotiated project, as part of our Learning Agreement Time. I was really pleased that this was the first project which has been totally child initiated. Whilst completing the previous project, a girl in my class approached me and said she would like to complete a project about Space. I encouraged her to some back when she had thought about what exactly she would like to do. Two days later she returned with a bouncy ball shaped like the Earth and said she wanted to make clay models of the planets and the different animals that lived on other planets. She formed a group of others who were interested (as well as two experience project planners I encouraged to get involved), and we planned and carried out the project.

During the first research stages of the project the girl became frustrated trying to find pictures of animals from other planets that looked like they were real. She said she had searched the internet for pictures and there was nothing there. I asked her why she thought that there would be no pictures on the whole internet of animals from other planets. She thought about it, then held her head in her hands and exclaimed “Because there aren’t any; my project is ruined!”. I think moments like this are really important in negotiated learning. I could have told her there were no animals on other (known) planets when the idea was generated, and thus allowed her to focus her efforts on planning something that would come to fruition. However, now she has gone through that process she has learned the importance of research to inform even preliminary planning, far more powerful a lesson than me just telling her. Luckily the project was quickly adapted to a model of just the planets.

Once again another great idea on encouraging the reflective learning process I am trying to scaffold came about through this project. Whilst making their planets one of the group asked me if he could use the flip video camera to make some video for the accompanying powerpoint they are making. I agreed, left them to it, and the result was the video below. I have been really impressed by the quality of their documentation of their own learning. Once again, a child has suggested a way of further supporting the process I am trying to encourage. I intend to make documenting learning in this way an integral part of our Learning Agreement projects from now on. Ok, it seems an obvious idea, and perhaps I should have thought of it before, but it is another piece in my puzzle of supporting rigorous learning through open outcomes.



2 responses to “Documenting negotiated projects”

  1. Bill Genereux Avatar

    I just shared this project with my daughter who is very interested in Science. She thought it was great so she put it on her blog. Last summer she attended Space Camp at the Kansas Cosmosphere. She met Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke. She would love to discuss Science and Space with your students.

    I think it is wonderful you are using video as part of your student projects. Your students are lucky to have a great teacher who inspires them to work hard at learning.

    1. oliverquinlan Avatar

      Thanks for the lovely comment Bill. I will share your daughter's blogging with the group. They will be thrilled that she is interested in what they have been doing. They have their own blog as well at so feel free to pass on the link to her.

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