Documenting Learning

I have been promoting the idea of electronically documenting evidence of learning in our elementary school. I made a choice to give the topic the title of e-portfolios, which I have now changed to e-documentation. The amount of push-back and stress that I received and felt by using the term portfolio was somewhat of a shock. The first grade team even said that they were opposed to the idea.

This resulted more from the history that teachers have with summative portfolios compiled in folders and binders that are painstakingly built and maintained. The farther away from the primary grades, the smaller the degree of resistance. Teachers recognize the value in documenting student work; the problem is that the process has always required so much time and effort. Check out this website from Harvard’s Project Zero that outlines Documenting the Process of Learning

With our pilot of 40 iPads covering 6 sections of each grade from ecec to 5th, we have been stunned by the amount of content that has been created throughout this school year and the amount of work that has been archived on blogs and web tools like VoiceThread . Documenting has taken place and doing it electronically has proven to be extremely easy and powerful at the same time.

I believe that the best reason for changing the language from e-portfolio to e-documentation is that it moves thinking away from documenting end products to documenting the procress of learning when learning is happening. With an iPad, an “AH HA” moment can be captured immediately and the image or video, with voice recorded, can be uploaded and integrated in a variety of apps and vessels. I recently asked two fourth graders to document the most important steps for them in writing their realistic fiction piece. They took time to go through their writer’s notebooks and review the work they did with each of the lessons that were presented, they looked through drafts to see the changes that took place as they revised and edited, and then they started to document. The students took photographs with the screencasting app, Explain Everything, and used the tools provided to record their voices and share what was important to them. This was their first experience with the app and had very little direction with how deep of a reflection they could make. Check out the videos and share thoughts and questions about documenting electronically.


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