Tapestry or Paper Diaries (Other online platforms are available)
How on the fence am I?
Online learning journals! Are they easier? More productive? Better for parents (YES- 100%) but are they better for teachers?
There was such scepticism years ago when the notion of online journals crept into early years education. People questioned the quality of such observations and the many technical issues that may arise…
I’ve used both and both are good in different contexts. Pre-online, I was happily sticking things into a paper diary and as I only had 15 Reception (alongside 15 year one) this task wasn’t too onerous. I loved the ‘scrap book’ feel to them and loved even more that the children could go and get their diary and flick through it at any time biting noting progress and valuing their efforts across each area of the EYFS curriculum.
Yet, when I went to a new context and used Tapestry, I was amazed by the parent interaction and feedback which was so heartwarming to see and hear! We had a true dialogue! Real interaction and sharing of progress about their children’s learning. A celebration! They didn’t have to wait for a parents evening to know that their child was great at counting on a number line but may need some support with counting in 2s. Home support was a little more explicit as they contributed to their child’s ‘journey’ too and I wasn’t cutting and sticking for hours on end.
But the children didn’t have that concrete representation there to peruse. It was all quite abstract and ‘in the ether’! The only bit I really don’t like. Also, if there is only one iPad, then only one person can do them! Not time productive for 30 children at all!
Then there was a question of how many obs were needed – controversial! I always carry a book or notes with me as I also don’t like typing in front of the children. So I write it down or just take a quick snap! So in theory am I writing it twice?? Some people say to type it up at the time but I feel that this gets in the way of quality interactions with children. What do you all think? (Your ideas welcome below.) As you can see, I am totally on the fence with this one! In the middle of the fence at that.
I see the pros and cons for both methods and believe that it boils down to how YOU work as a person and the setting / context that you’re in. I am more than open to change if the benefit is all for the children! Is there impact and how great does this outweigh other educational factors? Some say why should the parents know so much – they never have before? And some parents have got time to access the app and some just haven’t. Does this disadvantage some children?
With Tapestry, I was getting home and then talking into the iPad to ‘write’ them all up! This was taking quite a fair amount of time and wasn’t part of the process. And even then I was told there weren’t enough observations! How many is enough! Surely quality over quantity?
So, if I had to choose one now… what would I choose? I think I’d choose Tapestry. That quality interaction with parents is worth it and a lovely visual journey for all class celebrations and children’s personal progress and next steps – with no printing or sticking…. it just about pips the post for me! But only just as I do love a paper diary too! I just need a LOT more practice to perfect it throughout the school day and not see it as an ‘add-on’ and make it work for me.
What do you think of online journals/diaries? Are they the future or are they adding to teachers workloads? Let me know in the comments!