Documenting Learning

I have chosen to focus on documenting learning for my Principal Qualification Program practicum project.

There are a few goals I have set for myself in order to complete this project:

  1. Create a bank of lessons that teachers can use to begin documenting learning with their classes.
  2. Use these lessons myself with my own students to get them to begin documenting their own learning.
  3. Invite parents in at the end of the year in a mock ‘Student-led conference’/visiting day to get their feedback and thoughts compared to regular parent/teacher conferences

However, these last few weeks I’ve found myself in an interesting place, where I have failed to keep up with my own documentation of my documentation with students of their documentation of learning. Did you follow that?

Even though I started this project in January, this is my first time actually writing about it and documenting my progress. On February 26. 2 days shy of March. Blogging as a form of documentation is new for me. I recently read somewhere (I will link it when I find it) about the 21/90 rule – it takes 21 days to develop a habit, and 90 days to develop a lifestyle. I guess it makes sense then that I am going through some ups and downs of documenting my progress. Blogging as documentation has not yet become a habit for me. But it’s all part of the journey.

I believe it’s always better late than never, so here is a quick(ish) recap of what I’ve done so far.

I decided to begin with the topic of ‘Authentic Artifacts of Learning’ with my students. During a recent field trip, I took lots of photos of my students participating in various activities. Once we returned to school, instead of having students write a reflection of what they liked, what they didn’t like, or what they learned, I asked them to choose a picture or two (if one existed) that was a good representation of something they learned while on the trip. They acknowledged that a picture alone is not evidence of learning – that it needed “something else” to raise it’s quality and authenticity as an artifact of learning.

Here are some examples of what they came up with:

This student has started to work on annotating an image to add meaning for readers. I can see she enjoyed feeding the birds, knows what they are called, and what she needs to do in order to feed them. I am not sure though, if this is new knowledge for her or not. A follow up discussion would have to be had in order to ask questions I’m still wondering about. This feedback will be helpful for her the next time she chooses to include an image as documentation.

 

This excerpt comes from another student’s work. She did not choose to use any image, and seems to be stuck in the traditional end of field trip reflection format. I think she had fun, based on what she’s written. I know they did a scavenger hunt, but I’m not sure what they were looking for. I also know there was something to do with beaver fur, however I still have lots of questions.

 

The student below chose to draw her own representation of the day. From her text, I can see that she is not clear on what the birds are called, and that she has learned that some plants are edible for people and have health benefits, even if we don’t like the taste.

 

Finally, this student added labels to the picture and also added text on either side to go into even more detail about what he learned. I believe this would be a really helpful example to guide other students as to how they can clearly show their learning.

Although no students chose to do so, the option to make a video recording was also discussed, and hopefully some students will opt for this at another occasion.

My next step will be to repeat this activity with a new set of images, once a discussion has been had and feedback has been given. As we compile the different artifacts, students will see the documentation OF their learning of subject matter, and will begin to take ownership of what they document and how to move towards documenting AS and FOR learning.

2 Comments on Documenting Learning

  1. Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
    4th March 2019 at 9:22 pm (5 months ago)

    @Melissa,
    I am thrilled to see you put in action (AND document) the first steps of introducing documenting FOR and AS learning to your students. I especially am thrilled to see you experiment with strategies around introducing the order of the documentation learningflow. Why not skip the looking for and capturing learning during the field trip and let the learners reflect on artifacts that you have taken… unpacking and figuring out what would serve them as ways to show evidence of their learning.
    I like this strategy very much and might borrow it for my own documenting work with teachers (… giving you credit of course…) 😉
    What is next in your “documentation” of uncovering and unfolding documentation with your students?

    Evidence of Learning

    Reply
    • melissat
      12th March 2019 at 4:44 pm (4 months ago)

      I just had them practice taking their own images or videos of something that inspired them from their older peers’ STEM projects. Next steps are to start putting all their work together in one place. I’ll have to circle back in a year to see how these reflections helped them when choosing their STEM topics for grade 6 🙂 And obviously, I will write about all this here!!

      Reply

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