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Thursday, 3 April 2014

What is documentation?

This is such a huge question that I am not going to attempt to unpack it all in one post! There are many more experienced educators than I, who spend years researching and investigating this area.

In this post I will simply outline in layman's terms what I have seen as documentation in the 4 years I have been inspired by this approach. The main purpose of documentation is to make the process of learning visible. Documentation is not necessarily concerned with the 'end product' although this can be a part of the documentation.

1. Children's conversations/quotes. This deserves a post (or many!) all to its self. By recording the children's conversations or quotes you are giving visibility to the process of their thinking and learning. What are they thinking? How do they engage in conversation with others? What are they wondering about? How are they building understanding together? How are they hypothesising? How are they problem solving? Negotiating? How are they developing relationships with others? How are they developing relationships with the world around them?

2. Photographs/video. I take approximately 50 photos per day. Sometime this is still not enough. Again I will address this area in whole series of posts later on. The purpose of photographs is to give visibility to the children actively constructing their own understanding.

3. Graphic representations. This is a fancy term for the children's drawings. The children are provided with the opportunity to draw their thinking, for example "How could I measure the length of this space?". Depending on the age/ability of the children these drawings may be accompanied by the children's writing.

4. 3D models. Like graphic representations but in 3D form, often using clay, paper or wire.

These forms of on-going documentation can be made visible in the classroom on a daily basis. For example learning centres/areas that display conversations or quotes. Often we will leave out clay, wire or paper work that they children are developing to give visibility to their learning process. Similarly photos and graphic representations can be displayed daily for visitors to our classroom.

Bringing it all together

The school I currently work at uses photoshop, indesign and keynote. I had no idea how to use any of these programs before I started there, so it's been a big learning curve. We are lucky enough to have the resources to create panels similar to those seen in Reggio Emilia. These panels can be aimed at the adult community of the school or at the children. Panels are a great way to make visible key areas of the evolution of the project as the children are working.

 Teachers are also expected to create two presentations using keynote (similar to powerpoint) to summarize the learning experiences for the year. One presentation is solely about project. The second is about the identity and experiences of the children in all other aspects of the program including literacy and numeracy. Both presentations are given at the end of the year to the parent community to summarize the learning experiences.

Some examples of "end products" that reflect the children's learning;

  •  books created by the children
  •  3D models
  •  maps
  • role plays
  • dance
And many more!!!!!

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