Learning Exposed

I’m impressed with how quickly the K-2 teachers involved in our District’s Making Learning Visible project are becoming both skilled WP_000157documenters of early learners AND skilled users of digital tools for documenting.  Their purpose with this work is to collect and record learning events and experiences, to build a narrative from documentation to reflection.  Some of the purposes for digital documentation they are working with include:

  • stimulating and supporting narrative
  • illustrating a point
  • providing evidence of learning
  • opening up a conversation
  • sharing an experience
  • understanding a situation more deeply
  • asking questions such as “What is going on here?”, “What have I missed?”, “What do I need to explore?”, “What’s the next step?”

Digital documentation is “more than decoration”, “more than posed photographs”, and “useful in formative assessment”.  These teachers have had rich conversations about supplementing and / or replacing formal reporting to parents.

One teacher shared how she video taped (interesting how we often use traditional terms like “taped” even thought there’s no tape involved with an iPod) some of her kindergarten students involved in a learning activity.  She had the kids watch themselves on the video while she watched them watching.  The kids were commenting on their behaviors, the impact of their actions on others, etc. as they self evaluated through the visual experience.  This teacher commented how she wished she had captured them on video while they self-reflected.  That next layer of documentation (meta-documentation) is a powerful learning artifact as well.  She learned things about their learning that she didn’t even realize was happening!

Some insights I picked from the group as they were sharing their recent documentation experiences:

  • be open to be sure you’re (the teacher) not driving the documentation – capture real, not orchestrated learning
  • sharing documentation energizes the whole class, it gets them excited about their learning
  • provide immediate feedback by showing students video and pictures of learning that just occurred
  • kids take more pride in their learning and see how it is valuable
  • empowering kids to document gets them more interested in capturing what other kids are doing, learning
  • kids as teachers start to use bigger teacher words when they are ‘teaching’
  • teachers can train kids in small groups to be able to use video cameras (aka iPods) to document
  • documentation of learning is more informative than a traditional report card

The teachers were asked to discuss in small groups howWP_000164 they could informally report learning to parents. I captured a few of their thoughts with a picture.  It will be interesting to see how these ideas evolve as they are able to ‘expose’ the learning of their students through the use of video, pictures, and audio recordings.

As they work towards making learning more visible, I’m sure this list will transform to other methods.  We hope to be able to make student learning visible for parents online.  There are key privacy steps we have to consider but we will work towards providing parents a login to our District’s digital learning and work environment and connect them to their child’s digital portfolio of learning.

One kindergarten teacher whose classroom I visited last year had kids documenting their own learning about the number ten using digital cameras and blocks, and then using a SMART board to talk about what they documented, etc..  I was able last year to capture and stitch together some video segments of this visit that you can enjoy here.

Documenting Learning

I wonder what are other teachers doing in their classrooms to digitally document and report learning?  What tools are other teachers using for their digital documentation?  Maybe you could share some strategies with me through a comment.


  1. Wonderful post! I am also a Kindergarten teacher and use ALL KINDS of technologies to enhance and capture authentic learning opportunities for young children. Keep this up! I love knowing that other Kindergarten teachers are rethinking/transforming what they know and enhancing their practice through reflection and collaboration!

  2. @Sharon: technology sure can enrich the experience for the kids and for you hey. It opens up new ways for kids to learn, and for learning to be recorded and shared, in particular with the kids and their parents. Exciting times! Thanks for sharing your excitement here :-)

  3. This is a timely post for me. I am a k/1 teacher on the North Island and am currently working on a similar project, creating digital assessment and student created portfolios. I originally started out just wanting these portfolios to be collections of evidence that students could reflect on and I could share with parents as a clearer picture of their child's learning ( and playing) in my classroom. We are using iPods/iPads & livecribe pens primarily to document the journey. What I realized was exactly what you started out doing, each time I was involved in the recording in some way I immediately started reflecting on my practice in the encounter. My questions during conferences, my directions and interactions could be tweeked, changed or dropped. Unintendely this documented has help my teaching.
    I would love to connect with some of these teachers involved and brainstorm how they are using tools to accomplish their goals. I am @soltauheller on twitter if we could connect. We are a small district with no one in a position such as yours and I would love some guidance from your group.
    I follow your blog and always find your posts interesting.
    Take care,

  4. @sarahjane: what a great story you've shared - I will definitely see about connecting you with our teachers. I'm sure you and they would have a lot to share with each other! I will figure out how to connect you with them. Thanks so much for sharing your story here.

  5. Great post Brian. It seems to me that sharing practice is a powerful way to help not only yourself understand practice, it also models good practice for other educators and parents.

    Martin Goldberg

  6. @Martin: transparency for learning and teaching would seem to be a positive practice hey. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Teachers teaching with SMART Boards

Joel's New Textbook

Bogglers Block