documentation,  Project Approach,  project work

Types of Documentation

Yesterday I talked about why documentation is so important in the classroom, so you know what it does, but it’s also important to get a grasp on what documentation is.

The way that it has been best explained to me is that documentation tells the story of the children’s learning.  This means that anything that shows evidence of the learning process can be considered documentation.

Documentation generally falls into two categories;

  • Documentation Panels: These are professional works created by a teacher to showcase specific learning experiences.  They generally include photos taken by the teacher during the investigation and captions or a description of the experience.  Panels are created to be aesthetically pleasing and to draw the viewer’s eye to the most significant learning that has taken place, sometimes called the “aha! moment”
  • Raw Documentation: this is any work that is created throughout the project, including children’s work samples, teacher’s notes and observations, and children’s artistic representations. The work shared in this class book is a perfect example of raw documentation because it was created by the children as a part of their investigation of holidays and traditions.

This project web is also a perfect example of raw documentation because it shows where additional ideas have been added as the children’s interests have changed.

I like to add an additional category of documentation because I have found it to be especially successful with toddlers and young preschoolers.  Photographs alone are incredibly important pieces of documentation when working with young children because they encourage conversation and verbal sharing of understanding and knowledge.  In many instances, photo books and interactive scrapbooks are extremely helpful when telling the story of a specific experience. They help children focus on certain pieces of the experience, making sense of one before moving to the next. 

Documentation is most valuable when many different forms of documentation are used together. When putting together documentation displays, it is important to know you audience – we’ll talk about this tomorrow!

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