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DOCUMENTING CHILDREN’S LEARNING
adapted from Early Years Learning Framework Educators’ Guide

How can educators document c...
Pictorial graphs and charts created by children on paper or screen to indicate features, such as
the frequency of an event...
Webs of children’s thoughts about a particular topic can capture children’s ideas and questions
as well as their capacity ...
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4 documentingchildrenslearning

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4 documentingchildrenslearning

  1. 1. DOCUMENTING CHILDREN’S LEARNING adapted from Early Years Learning Framework Educators’ Guide How can educators document children’s learning? A range of methods can be used to document children’s learning. Educators make choices about the most appropriate methods depending on what they want to understand about children’s learning. The list below describes a range of methods that educators can use to document children’s learning in relation to the five learning outcomes in the Framework. Anecdotes are useful for depicting children’s participation in individual and shared play experiences and processes of learning, such as exploring, problem-solving, hypothesising and researching. Anecdotes can also record verbal and non-verbal interactions in play and children’s emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency. Anecdotes can also note how children function in their attachment relationships and friendships and record children’s physical activity. Audio recordings can be useful in documenting, sharing and revisiting children’s words, conversations, poems and songs. Comments, narratives or explanations made by children about their paintings, drawings and constructions and the processes they engaged in can provide insights into their processes of learning. Diagrams and sketches of children’s play made by educators or children can show children’s capacity to investigate and manipulate resources and to take on different roles. Diagrams of children’s constructions can also make evident the use of shape, size and or colour to create patterns. Children’s plans or diagrams of completed constructions also demonstrate their emerging understandings of space and perspective. Jottings are brief notes that can include words used in interactions, the context for a photograph or sample, or an explanation of the processes a child or group of children engage in to create a product. These might include details about how children manipulate tools or the types of physical activities they engage in. Learning stories (Carr, 2001) focus on children’s strengths, interests, actions and dispositions and are useful for documenting children’s involvement in learning, including communication, interactions and collaboration. Learning stories can be effective for capturing children’s dramatic play episodes as well as the different roles and contributions of each of the children. They can also document how children approach challenging tasks, demonstrate persistence and resolve situations of conflict. Lists of texts that children engage with can indicate their engagement with texts and their interests. When family members and children also contribute to this list, children’s interest in a particular topic or in different types of texts, such as magazines or computer-based texts, can be identified. My Time, Our Place Educators’ Guide: Resources CD 1
  2. 2. Pictorial graphs and charts created by children on paper or screen to indicate features, such as the frequency of an event or the growth of something over time, can provide insights into children’s understandings of numeracy concepts, such as measurement. Photographs of children’s play and interactions can capture children’s investigations and are particularly useful for documenting very young children’s exploration. They can also demonstrate children’s curiosity and their interest in and appreciation of the natural environment and children’s attempts at a new task or skill. Children can take photographs of their own experiences, for example, their participation in movement, drama, dance and physical activities, including their physical mobility and dexterity with small tools. Running records are detailed narratives of children’s learning. They often focus on one child’s learning and are written as learning is occurring. They are useful to capture details of social interactions and conversations between children. They can also be used to record a child’s reading or retelling of a familiar book. Samples of drawing and painting created with paper and/or on screen and descriptive accounts of the processes children engaged in to create these works demonstrate ways in which children experiment with resources and explore colour, line and patterns. For older children, drawings and painting will also indicate how they use visual arts to express ideas and make meaning. A series of samples can also illustrate children’s persistence and achievement of mastery over time. Displays of children’s work can also enhance children’s sense of pride in their finished products. Storylines can document children’s dramatic play scripts and illustrate children’s understandings of relationships, character and plot. Texts created by children can provide insights into their use of different media to create meaning. These could be print-based or multimodal texts, such as a book with drawings and text, or music and spoken words created by children on a music player, computer or paper. Transcripts of conversations between an adult and a child or group of children and among children capture children’s language and conversation skills along with their ideas, questions and reflections. These transcripts can also depict children’s contributions to play and their responses to diversity, awareness of and respect for others’ perspectives and understandings of fairness and social justice. Children’s conversations can also provide evidence of children’s capacity to cooperate and negotiate and to share in group decisions. Video recordings of children’s explorations, physical play, movement, dance, dramatic play and performances can capture many aspects of children’s learning, such as their use of their bodies, spatial awareness, exploration of different roles and identities and use of creative arts to express meaning. Videos can also record children’s levels of confidence and willingness to share aspects of their culture and home life with others. My Time, Our Place Educators’ Guide: Resources CD 2
  3. 3. Webs of children’s thoughts about a particular topic can capture children’s ideas and questions as well as their capacity to make connections and generalise. When webs are completed at different stages during children’s investigations and projects they can provide insights into the growing complexity of children’s understandings and the language they use to talk about these ideas. The addition of photographs and children’s drawings can assist in capturing the ideas of younger children as well as those children with emerging language skills. Tools such as notepads, sticky notes, audio recorders (for example, cassette tapes and MP3s), cameras and DVD or video recorders make it possible to record children’s ideas, actions and language. These tools also enable educators to make the most effective use of time and resources to collect meaningful data about individuals and groups of children and to capture the richness of children’s interactions and relationships and the co-construction of knowledge. When and where is it best to document learning? Documentation reflects children’s learning most effectively when children are actively involved in learning experiences, interacting with others and participating in everyday experiences. Where possible, children can be included in the collection of data and in reflections on their own learning. This may mean talking with them about the processes of documentation, enabling them to take photographs, inviting them to make choices about the information that has been collected and asking them about the learning processes they engaged in. What are the ethical considerations associated with documenting children’s learning? It is essential that educators are respectful of the rights of children and families when documenting children’s learning. This includes respecting the agency and privacy of children and families, including their right not to participate and not to have documentation made public. Ethical documentation includes having informed consent from families and children and treating documentation confidentially. Ethical documentation also means respecting children’s cultural and linguistic competencies. My Time, Our Place Educators’ Guide: Resources CD 3

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