Looking for Language Learning: Pedagogical Documentation


Through a lead from Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s Langwitches blog, I am reading a brilliant book called Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio Inspired Approaches in all Schools.

Part of the idea behind SPELTAC is that through pedagogical documentation on blogs, we can make our learning visible and in that way learn from our own reflections and those of others. Walk-throughs are powerful for professional learning, but blogging can add a deeper dimension:

“the practice of observing, recording, interpreting, and sharing through a variety of media the processes and products of learning in order to deepen and extend learning. These physical traces allow others to revisit, interpret, re-interpret and even re-create an experience.”

Inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, documenting for learning is used across the world with early years learners, such as this example. However, the book details examples from KG to grade 12. I am convinced of its worth across the school and in particular for professional learning. I also believe it can build collective understanding and institutional memory in a school. Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano has created this slide show of her take-aways of the book for professional learning:



So what counts as documentation for learning? Here is a list of possible ways, taken from this very worthwhile article on documentation from Ontario’s Capacity Building Series.





Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano adds a few more tools:

  • Sketchnotes
  • Tweets
  • Backchannel
  • Blogs
  • Slide deck
  • Screenshooting and – casting
  • Mindmaps

I looked for this kind of documentation for learning happening on SPELTAC blogs and found many examples. Here are just a few:

A teacher learning about the importance of a common language through a colleague’s observation of a student interaction.

A teacher learning about how the use of sketch noting can make student learning visible.

A principal learning about teachers’ internationally minded and linguistically minded practices across the school through blog posts.

A PE teacher learning about how the use of an APP promoted student engagement, observing the language used.

An EAL specialist learning about how inquiry aids language learning through lesson observation.

A KG teacher learning about communication success through gestures and drawing.

A French teacher learning about ways to use translanguaging in the classroom showing pictures of various pieces of student work.

Do you see the worth of this approach for learning about the needs of our linguistically and culturally diverse student body? How can we document our practices to move our learning forward? What opportunities and challenges do you see?



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