What are the main benefits of using sketchbooks throughout primary?
Using a journal allows the children to take control over their own learning, offering a space for idea development, exploration, play and self evaluation and reflection. Reluctant writers are encouraged to make marks, give meaning and tell stories in a none threatening and creative space. It a space they have control and ownership over and is therefore more engaging and inspiring. If we are involved, have a personal interest and emotional connection with our learning then we are less stressed and under less pressure and ultimately content. Under these conditions I believe we learn
How exactly are they used throughout each school, how much say does each teacher have in how they are used?
Some schools are using the books as diary spaces alone, offering time to the children where they reflect on the day, with a focus on what they have learnt. This may be in the academic or the emotional curriculum. They are not simply written accounts of the day, with focus set on full stops and capital letters but often pictorial representations or poetry, collage or mark making or colour expressive responses.
Other schools keep track of the learning in history, geography or p s c h e learning in art ideas books and journals. Here the art schemes are strategically linked the subject, extending the opportunities for learning with arts activities that have an output that can be recorded in the books. Sometimes visual, sometimes written, often both. Drama lessons linked to an historic focus might be summed up in the journal using collage techniques, music lessons may be incorporated into visual art lessons, combining text and image, then extended into ICT work. The important aspect of this, is that the journal becomes a way of tracking the learning journey. True cross curricular work.
Are parents involved?
We have started running workshops with parents at nursery level to introduce them to the techniques and power of journal keeping with their children. I believe this can be abn important bridge between school and community. family history projects and local focus work is a great way of developing understanding in a cross cultural context. Sharing work with one and other through the books, having school events where the work is exhibited, has also added weight and importance to their use
Do children take their books home?
Children do not take the book home but are encouraged to bring in things from home that are inked to the learning. Challenges are often set to try and encorporate something from home into the book, in a creative way, sewing collaging, scanning, layering etc.
Do children use them as unique, personal books at all or are they always based in aspects of the curriculum?
I try to find a relevance in the learning so a learner becomes empathetic, therefore bridging or connecting the person with the subject. This works in particular with historic learning, thematically. Transition, war, migrancy, social order, power, relationships.
What are the costs involved?
Commitment and time. Cost are minimal