DOCUMENTATION of STANDARDS/OBJECTIVES:
COLOR SPLASH app
In early grades when children are learning through play and hands-on activities, we need a method of displaying the learning that is taking place in regards to standards and objectives. Visually documenting children’s learning is a tool we use to analyze the intent of children’s work, reflect on the learning and progress to inform instruction and to engage students’ in conversations and self-reflection. If the hands-on work in which children engage becomes visible, it becomes a starting point for conversations with children, families, colleagues, and administrators.
One way to draw attention to the learning in which we want to reflect upon is through the use of The Color Splash app. This app allows the focus to be on what the child is learning and accomplishing by coloring the parts of the photo in which you want to focus. A caption can be added to include the words of the child as he/she discusses the process of what is being learned or explored.
This provides an insightful glance into the learning that is taking place during hands-on learning activities.
Pictures hung at the students’ eye-level spark conversations, reflections on their learning and encourage others to recreate and expand on the process.
Color Splash on Google Play
Color Splash for Apple
“Documentation is not pretty pictures of engaged children. Rather, it captures the thinking process: What motivated [students] to begin, continue, change direction? What were the breakthroughs, the pivotal remarks or actions? How did they solve the problem? The goal is to enable whoever reads a panel to understand what the child attempted and how they went about it, to see stimulus, process, and outcome.”
-A. Lewin-Benham (2006). Possible Schools: The Reggio Approach to Urban Education. New York: Teacher’s College Press.
While reflecting on this quote, think of your classroom walls:
- What is hanging on the walls?
- Is it a reflection of the children?
- Do the children look at, talk about, use the information that is hanging on the walls?
- Did the children have the opportunity to help create the pieces on the walls? As educators, we need to reflect on how we are showcasing the process of the learning of young children, how do we provide a visual to others of the children’s thinking.
I believe that if we had this goal in mind as we are hanging items on our walls and deciding how to document children’s learning- not just the end product but the process as well- it would serve as an incredible focal point for student conversations as well as provide an amazing visible display of what children are learning and thinking for parents, administrators and other stakeholders- what are your thoughts?
Pondering a Quote regarding Documentation:
I love the following quote to continue thinking about not just reflecting the work of the child- but how are we truly showcasing the thinking process of the child. I believe that if we had this goal in mind as we are hanging items on our walls and deciding how to document children’s learning- not just the end product but the process as well- it would serve as an incredible focal point for student conversations as well as provide an amazing visible display of what children are learning through play and exploration for parents, administrators and other stakeholders- what are your thoughts?
Documentation is not pretty pictures of engaged children. Rather, it captures
the thinking process:
What motivated [students] to begin, continue, change direction?
What were the breakthroughs, the pivotal remarks or actions?
How did they solve the problem?
The goal is to enable whoever reads a panel to understand what the child attempted and how they went about it, to see stimulus, process, and outcome. -A. Lewin-Benham
As we continue the discussion of intentionally designed environments and how we display not just children’s work but also the process of their learning, there are some key ideas I found helpful to provide some insights from Working in the Reggio Way by Julianne Wurm.
Documentation is important for not only the children to see the process of their thinking and their work but also for the teachers to grow in their craft and understanding of children.
Documentation can serve to illuminate the thinking, a change in thinking that occurred, what was learned or not learned, the evolution of the behavior, questioning, maturity, responses, and opinions.
Documentation begins with observation.
A couple of fun, engaging ideas that I have observed in classrooms include…
* Documenting student’s thoughts during different times of the day and placing those by the posted visual schedule.
* Taking lots of pictures and showing them as a slide show – playing the slide show each morning on the Smart Board to remind students of the learning that took place the previous day.
* A web of student’s thoughts and ideas as a project develops is a good way of displaying the process of the children’s thinking. The teacher would always be referring back to it with the children- the documentation was useful and children were able to gain the skill of reflecting on their thinking.
* Students reflection of their own learning posted next to their work.
* I saw a documentation board in one classroom that had pictures and one or two quotes from students for each month- although it wouldn’t capture the thinking through a whole project, it was a good way to demonstrate to students the passage of time. The students chose one to two pictures each week that demonstrated their learning. It was a great time to review the learning and also work on voting skills.
documentation of shadows
Kindergarten teachers in McLean County Unit 5 School District and the Prekindergarten and Kindergarten teachers in Union School District developed “elevator speeches” describing why play is critical during the early years based on snippets of information from the article, Crisis in Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School published by the Alliance for Childhood. These statements can be added to parent newsletters, etc. as a continual reminder of the importance of play.
Key Research Statements About Why Play is Important that Resonated with K Teachers
The Power of Observation:
Assessment in early childhood classrooms should occur through observations in a natural, authentic environment.
As we watch, listen and interact with children with the intention of being in the moment with them, we discover not only their understandings but also their learning process, their uniqueness and interests. We begin to value each child’s contributions to the community of learners.
We gain valuable information on how we can promote their success as a learner.
NAEYC Recommendations for Assessments:
*teachers’ observations of what children say and do
*other documentation (e.g. photographs)
*collected during their play and daily activities
*used to refine how teachers plan and implement activities
- Through intentional observation of each individual child, we begin to respect and appreciate each one for his/her uniqueness and for the strengths he/she brings to the community of learners. We value the contributions of each individual child.
- Gain understanding of child’s skills in their natural environment, how they apply the knowledge in everyday exploration and use instead of in a contrived testing situation
- Ability to reflect on each child’s skills and developmental growth
- Increased ability to respond in ways that enable the children to be successful learners; turning the observations into effective instructional invitations
- Provides differentiated instruction- clearly knowing the next steps for each child
- Allows for strong relationship building- (which leads to more engaged and risk-taking learners)
- Beautiful opportunities to wonder and learn about children’s thinking
- Provides information on child’s approach to learning and their application of the knowledge instead of just ability to label or perform an isolated skill
- Fuels our desire to learn more about the learning process