Saturday, October 1, 2011

Make Learning Visible

Our District has formed a Documentation Focus Group to “Make Learning Visible”.  I wrote last year about the early exploration of this approach to documenting learning in Capturing the Journey of Early Learners.  This year we have about 18 committed iStock_000007042359XSmallkindergarten teachers working with an external facilitator Pat Holborn, who specializes in Learning Through Play and Making Early Learning Visible in Early Primary.  They are embarking on an ambitious journey, going where most teachers have not gone before…  The stated purposes for this project include:

  • build and share strategies and skills for documenting, assessing and sharing student learning over time.
  • involve children and families in the documentation process.
  • begin to develop a framework for documenting student learning, supported by examples in different subject areas that can be shared with others.
  • explore ways to use technologies, including photographs, video and the Internet (my43) to share documentation with families.
  • integration documentation of student learning into the reporting process.

I have the pleasure of working with these teachers to support their use of technology in the documentation process.  This past Wednesday they had their first morning meeting, there will be a minimum of six such meetings this school year.  I spent about an hour with them to introduce them to their new iPod Touches.  The iPods will be their primary tool for capturing electronic documentation of their students, and their own learning.  I will be helping them to learn how to capture video, picture, and audio evidence.  We’ll work through the art of video and audio editing, and ways to present and share the digital documentation with families.

Another aspect of this will be to create a secure space within our my43 learning portal where teachers will be able to share digital artifacts of student learning with families.  We can’t just put this out on a Google Doc, Windows Skydrive, Wordpress, or Wikispaces.  In British Columbia we Information Securityhave rather strict legislation governing privacy (see Building Fences) of individuals and storing information about them in online environments.  To avoid those challenges, we will design a means to do this within my43.  This will likely be a toe in the water for providing a Student Space and Parent Space.  We will need to design a means for providing parents with their own secure login to a space within my43 where information about their child’s learning can be accessed and viewed and perhaps parents can comment back to their child and their teacher.

I’ve been reading the ISTE standards for students and teachers.  This early learning documentation project nicely ties in some of the standards for teachers:

  • Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments (d) provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments…
  • Model Digital-Age Work and Learning (all indicators)
  • Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility (a, c)
  • Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership (a, b, c, d)

I really like how this work will use technology to make learning more visible for families.  One of the frustrations for parents (my wife and iStock_000008573353SmallI raised three boys) is feeling like they are in the dark about their kids learning.  Report cards are a mere snapshot of what students know at certain points.  But with this digital approach, parents will see (pictures, video, text), hear (audio), and experience (video) evidence of their kids learning.  They will hopefully be able to comment and provide feedback online, creating a dialogue about their kids learning.  Some of what parents can hope to see and experience, that they would rarely get in traditional settings, include:

  • evidence not reflected in other assessment approaches (a more complete picture)
  • documentation of student learning over time
  • the excitement of spontaneous learning
  • their kids self-documentation

I will write more on this blog about the learning journey of these “fearless” teachers.  I hope to capture videos of them learning, of them using this approach for documenting learning, and to share them with you.  I hope they will also start blogging about their experiences to be able to make their own learning visible.  Until next time…