Making Learning Visible: Understanding, Documenting, and Supporting Individual and Group Learning
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Features of Documentation

The following material summarizes some features of documentation, which are further described in the MLV publication, Making Teaching Visible: Documenting Individual and Group Learning as Professional Development. The ideas stem from our research and collaborations with U.S. teachers as well as with educators from the Reggio Emilia preschools. As a summary, this information provides only the outlines of a more complete picture of documentation. If you have not already done so, you may also wish to consult Some Basics to further explore what MLV means by learning, group learning, and documentation.

Five Features of Documentation: Overview

  1. Documentation involves a specific question that guides the process, often with an epistemological focus (focus on questions of learning).

  2. Documentation involves collectively analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating individual and group observations; it is strengthened by multiple perspectives.

  3. Documentation makes use of multiple languages (different ways of representing and expressing thinking in various media and symbol systems).

  4. Documentation makes learning visible; it is not private. Documentation becomes public when it is shared with learners?whether children, parents, or teachers.

  5. Documentation is not only retrospective, it is also prospective. It shapes the design of future contexts for learning.

Documentation Features in Practice

Other Aspects of Documentation

Photograph by Melissa Rivard, MLV Documentation Specialist

Copyright 2006 Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University.
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