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Documenting Learning

15 May Making Thinking Visible by Documenting Learning

Maybe you’ve read excerpts from the book. Or seen the hashtag trending: #Documenting4learning. And you’ve wondered, what exactly does that mean?

Documenting learning is a process of collection, reflection, curation, and invitation in order to make thinking visible, meaningful, shareable, and amplified. Breaking this down, documenting learning is a process of:

  1. collecting evidence of learning
  2. reflecting on the learning process
  3. curating like evidence into a larger resource
  4. inviting others to participate in the learning

This process makes learning visible to participants, meaningful from reflection of the learning process itself, shareable with others, and amplified through this sharing. This process originates from “A Guide to Documenting Learning: Making Thinking Visible, Meaningful, Shareable, and Amplified” by Janet Hale and Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano.

So, why go through this process? For example, there are an increasing number of teacher-run blogs that seek to demonstrate the learning experiences of students and school-run initiatives to capture institutional memory. Documenting learning through this process bolsters the efficacy of these by driving a deeper level of reflection, which in turn results in greater learning from participants and the transfer of this knowledge to others.

Making Thinking Visible, Meaningful, Shareable, and Amplified

Documenting learning is a shift from the traditional documentation of learning, which focuses on the end product, to documentation for learning and documentation as learning. The latter two explore the nuances of the learning by asking questions such as: How will this learning influence and inform my future learning? How could someone else learn from this? How can I best share this learning with others? How can this learning best be conveyed?

By shifting focus to documentation of this form, teachers and schools will be challenged to further explore the learning they are trying to capture and share. Documenting learning is not a new idea, but documenting learning as a mechanism to learn is. As you read through this infographic (which you can download here), consider how you can apply these techniques to improve your own practice and deepen the learning of your students, yourself, and your colleagues and peers.

Find inspiration, reflection, and professional growth at any of our upcoming webinars and events, designed for educators by educators.

documenting learning

Janet A. Hale earned a Bachelor’s Degree with dual majors in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Curriculum Development. She also graduated from the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has been a special education high school teacher and general education elementary teacher, as well as a seminar/workshop creator, presenter, and trainer for Teacher Created Materials. She is a Curriculum21 faculty member.

Janet is the author of the bestseller book, A Guide to Curriculum Mapping, and its companion, An Educational Leader’s Guide to Curriculum Mapping, as well many Teacher Created Resources titles (formally Teacher Created Materials). She is also the co-author of Upgrade Your Curriculum with Mike Fisher, and A Guide to Documenting Learning: Making Thinking Visible, Meaningful, Shareable, and Amplified with Silvia.

Her passions include systemic curriculum design and curriculum mapping; standards literacy and alignment; modernizing curriculum, instruction, and assessments; and of course, documenting learning! Janet stays connected on social media through her professional Facebook account, Twitter account, and Curriculum Decisions blogs.

Documenting learning

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