Friday, February 3, 2012
the proof's in the pudding but where's the pudding?
Well, my camera is without battery so I must rely on my words (not too many, I promise) and one video to share my sleepy Friday night insights. Thanks to Allie over at bakers and astronauts I read an excellent article about documentation. If you're interested in reading, head over to Allie's blog and sign on to be a part of the ECC dialogue, which is a discussion group she just started. The first article Documentation: A Hard Place to Reach by Janice Kroeger and Terri Cardy prompted me to take a look at my documentation practice - and more precisely what my intention was when documenting. I realized two things - one I often feel a need to share the whole project work (history) to families and the school community by creating panels. This is an important component of documentation but really the most important element (in my opinion) is using documentation to make children's learning visible (to them) and as a tool to deepen play, experiences, theories, and ideas. This is where I was lacking. It's interesting because as much as I value process over product - this is what I was doing - favoring product (a panel) over documentation/traces being used consistently in the classroom (process).
It takes a lot of time to go through photographs, video, and notes each day. Yet this is the heart of documentation - to use it as an active process in moving forward. It is not (simply) an archival process, it is a responsive process in taking next steps and informing curricular decisions.
Time is an issue. Somehow the process of collecting and analyzing needs to be streamlined to make it easier to succeed. With this in mind, Ms. Anny and I (who also read the article) made an effort to make the children's art/ideas/work visible in the classroom. We also focused our efforts on using the documentation to prepare the learning environment - adding provocations, making changes, and really thinking about the materials that would best support the children. It resulted in a pretty amazing week, each day felt like a change in the environment - a mentioning of a previous idea - or a provocation inspired the children which in turn inspired us. It's sounds a bit like a fairy tale I know (especially with no photos to prove it!) but it was an inspirational week.
I'll share images on Monday but to give a bit of context we were immersed in the study of animals. There was a lot of high-interest activity with two rabbits in our room, animal tracks appearing daily (including predators looking for the rabbits), and the need for children to protect the rabbits and solve many problems. Here is one story that emerged after a student set an owl trap - hoping to catch the barn owl...before it caught the rabbit.