Making Learning Visible and Storytelling

{24 Comments}

A person uses their cell phone to take a photo of a group of students working on a project

Daniel Pink (2006) writes,

“The future belongs to a very different kind of person
with a very different kind of mind –
creators and emphasizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers” (p. ii)

Students in the spring 2018 course, GEC 253 Making Learning Visible: Using the Tools of Documentation and Visual Arts, respond:

In what ways will you make meaning and create stories in your future professional lives?

GEC 253 Making Learning Visible focuses on the tools of documentation and visual arts. Students analyze learning and develop the basics of design needed to create informative and aesthetically pleasing displays. With today’s sophisticated visual communication, these are critical skills to develop as a professional in a multitude of settings and age groups.

24 Comments…

  1. Through taking the course Making Learning Visible I have learned the importance of documentation and visual communication. In my future professional life I plan to become an early childhood teacher, hopefully in first or second grade. I will make meaning in my classroom in a multitude of ways. I will focus my lessons and activities as much as possible on child centered learning. I believe children should be the focus of every classroom and their needs and interests should be at the core of the curriculum. There are standards that will need to be met, but I want to make meeting these standards meaningful by teaching my students through many different means of learning. Some children learn best through moving their body, others learn best through music and artistic expression, others learn through stories and acting things out. Through this course I have learned that documenting the learning of my students is not just simply writing down what they did or collecting a work sample, but fully immersing them in the process of documentation and understanding their learning and progress. If I am teaching a concept through 3 different activities, one that involves movement, one that involves stories, and one that involves song, and the children are being active documenters of their own learning then together we can figure out which mode of learning helps them learn best. Involving children in documentation of their own learning will keep them more aware of what their strengths are and how they can improve in other areas.
    Creating stories in my future professional life is something that will be challenging as an early childhood teacher, but not unattainable. Everyone has a story, even children. Children in my future classroom may come from backgrounds where they are disadvantaged or face daily struggles. It is my job as their teacher to be open to all of my students’ stories, the good and the bad, and to be there for them as a person they can trust and a person to support them. Together as a class we can also create stories of project we have completed. We can put stories together through their drawings and dictations or even make a visual display of their ideas and work. Through this course I learned different skills surrounding visual communication and how to create an aesthetically pleasing display. With these skills I can help teach my future students how we can create a display to show their work for their parents or the school to see. This course was focused on general tools of documentation and visual arts, but left me with many skills that will help me better make meaning and create stories as an early childhood teacher in my future professional life.

    • Hi, I respectfully disagree with some of your observations. You mentioned in your comment, “Some children learn best through moving their body, others learn best through music and artistic expression, others learn through stories and acting things out.”. There is no scientific evidence for this statement. You have implied that there are possibly different ‘learning modes’ for different children. This kind of reasoning is largely based on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Unfortunately, there is practically no scientific evidence for either ‘learning modes’ or ‘teaching modes’. Please read this blog, as it conclusively demolishes this myth of learning modes: https://iraparenting.com/learning-corner/howard-gardners-theory-of-multiple-intelligences-myth-truth/

  2. Stories have always been important to me. From childhood when my mother would tell me bedtime stories, to adulthood when I was told cautionary tales, to college where you can’t wait to tell your new friends your own stories from the past, and to the future where I will tell stories to my old children. Stories are around to explain history, to warn children of the future, to teach and to pass time. Stories have been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be; in books, films, songs and storytelling.
    My majors are Visual Arts and Education Studies. I have always loved telling stories through my artwork, but this year I have learned to share more, and incorporate me and my story into my artwork. I will continue to tell stories to the children I work with, to create stories with them; whether is be playing with toys and creating a dialogue, or drawing and making up background stories about the pictures. This class has helped me to realize the importance of continuing story telling.

  3. I am not planning on going into the teaching profession. I was not sure how this class would benefit me being a social worker and not someone who was a teacher or majoring in communications. I was very surprised to see how much this class has impacted me and my future profession as a social worker. As a social worker, I need to tell my client’s stories in order to be their advocate. Being an advocate means I need to hep these people get what they need because they are either being ignored, or they do not have the means of getting their stories across. In the GenEd capstone class Making Learning Visible, I was able to learn over the course of the semester not only how important and how impactful it is to be able to tell someone story, but I also learned the correct tools of how to tell the story of someone else in the most powerful and passionate way. Learning how to do this has made me a better advocate for all of my future clients.

  4. As an elementary education major here at Wheelock, the plan as of right now is obviously to teach. Life is long and things change, but for now that’s where I’m headed. When I signed up for the course Making Learning Visible, I had no idea what exactly I was in store for. Little did I know just how applicable the content would be to my future teaching career.
    Over the course of the semester, we have learned about elements of design, how to film, an overview of elements of cinematography, documentation in classroom settings, and much more. However, out of all we have learned, I think the most important part for me was my experience creating and sharing digital stories. In my opinion, this experience and all that I’ve learned will transfer over very smoothly into my classroom experience.
    In the classroom, making meaning of what we are learning is the main goal. For some content, creating digital stories in order to make meaning of the factual content we are learning may be beneficial. For example, if we are learning about Native Americans and students are having a hard time remembering the history, creating a digital story in which students star in and help to create about Native Americans may be a tool to make content relatable and easier to learn. I also think the way in which we made digital stories about our own lives could be a good tool in older grade levels, especially at the age where there is a lot of self reflection about their own lives, their histories, their insecurities, etc. It is an excellent activity for self-expression, even if students do not want to share it.
    In addition to this newfound knowledge and appreciation for digital stories, I was given specific tools and strategies to help in both documenting learning and making content more accessible and appealing for learners. I learned how to document learning within a classroom setting, which is something that I definitely intend to explore further. There are so many ways that I will be making meaning and creating stories in my future classroom and I can’t wait to put them to use.

  5. This class has given me insights to what I want to include in my future classroom. It also gave me ways to be a better teacher overall. I am currently studying Early Childhood Education and developmental psychology here at Wheelock. Through my semester in this course I have learned many ways to “make learning visible” in my future classroom. I want my students and their parents to visually see their growth and learning throughout the year. I now know how to properly execute this either by film, images or actual projects. This class has prepared me to be a better teacher and one who properly can document. From practice, I also learned how to be better at catching what the children say or focus in on one child. This is something I had a harder time with prior to entering this class. This skill will help improve my documentation in the classroom.

    I also learned about Reggio Emelia classrooms which I now love the model for. I took another class at Wheelock where I was placed in a Reggio Classroom in Ireland. Everything that I learned from this class I was able to see in real life and see how this school uses documentation. Without my previous knowledge on this, I don’t think I would have gotten as much out of that experience. I also was able to explain to the other girl I was with in that class more about the Reggio model. It gave me a surplus of ideas to include in my future classroom.

    I was not good at digital stories before this class. I had only played around with iMovie a little. After taking this class, I realized how they can really add to learning. This is something I want to do in my classroom and have the children guide their learning. I want to include the use of media in the classroom in a positive way. This can be the children making their own videos by planning what they would say or as a class creating something to either show the school or parents. There are so many ways to include digital storytelling in the classroom which I never thought of before.

    I learned so much from this class and all of it will benefit me greatly in my professional career.

  6. I attended a Waldorf school for many years, if you know anything about the Waldorf education you know the curriculum values learning through art. This means we learned math tricks through fairy tales about “tommy times” and learned about history through oral stories our teacher would tell us and then illustrate the story in our “main lesson books.” After leaving Waldorf, transitioning into more of a US public school system I was hit with the realization that documentation, and creativity is really cut back in most public-school systems.
    When I chose to major in Social Work I knew I wanted to add more creativity and art to my practice; it can be the perfect way to express feelings, continue learning about yourself, or a situation.
    This class helped me connect two important pieces of my life together; creativity and my chosen profession; Social Work. Making Learning Visual has reminded me how important it is to continue to pursue different and unique ways to advocate and encourage my clients to express themselves and, learn. Regardless of where my professional career takes me, this class will always be in the back of my mind, we learned about storytelling and what makes a good story, we talked about digital storytelling and how to successfully put all the pieces together; narration, audio, visual, etc. As a social worker, I want to encourage my clients to document things that are important to them, worrying them, things they’re excited about etc. I think through this, they would be able to look back on how they experience the world and realize the strengths they have and aspects they could learn from and grow. Most importantly, they’ve experience most likely, a knew way of thinking and expressing themselves.
    These ideas were only a thought in the back of my head until I took this class. This class ultimately gave me the opportunity to personally explore and get to know even better how I learn, how I see the world or experience events, and most importantly how can I express how my perspective and then help others express theirs too.

  7. Everywhere you look, there are people. There are people living their individual unique lives, just as we are. To these people we may be a passerby, a significant other, a family member, a peer, a coworker, a stranger, etc. The thing we all have in common, no matter our relationship to the people around us, is that we all have stories and we are a part of other people’s stories. We all have stories that are from our unique individual perspective and we all have stories that we have been a part of. This, to me, is what makes storytelling and documentation so fascinating. Similarly the idea that we all are in each other’s lives and a part of each other’s stories is what has drawn me to connect social work with storytelling and documentation.

    May 18th, graduation, the day I graduate with a bachelor’s degree in social work, and the day I officially become a social worker. I say “officially” because on that Friday I will be handed a degree that proves I have done the education necessary to become a social worker. But what that degree will not show is the years of practicing the skills I will need to be a social worker before I even knew these skills were anything more than just a part of who I am. Listening to people tell me, their stories of heartbreak, their stories of loss, their stories of happiness, and most importantly the stories that make them who they are. Social work is storytelling. I, being a social worker, have the privilege and honor of documenting my clients’ stories and retelling these stories in order to advocate for them. Deep down, all good social workers know the importance of storytelling in our work. Sometimes it just takes a little digging to get to that realization and for that reason, this class, Making Learning Visible, has made me a better social worker, by guiding me to this realization.

    We are all constantly creating meaning of the world around us and using stories to express these realizations. Embrace the story you are in now, revisit the fond memories of stories past, and look forward to what tales the future will bring.

  8. Growing up with a learning disability and being 1 out of 7 minorities in my public school, I have came to realize that I had to work 10 times as hard as others to get to where I am today. I seemed to be the only one struggling with these things and on top of that I had to work at 14 and take care of my family so it was important to everyone that I do the best I can. There have only been a few people I have met along the way to help me succeed academically and socially. Those relationships have encouraged me to do the best of my ability with an open heart and an open mind. As the years gone by, I still work 10 times as hard as others because of my learning disability, however I did not let dyslexia stand in the way of my success and achievements. When taking this class, I knew it had to be mostly about education, so I became more interested in what others have done and gone through in their life to be where they are today. My classmates have been an inspiration for me to keep going, however, I have not been more motivated and inspired than I am right now, in this moment.

    Working with underprivileged students in Mattapan, Boston, is such a great experience to have and is one of the reasons why I chose social work as my profession. Reading articles and watching the news about our education system and the racism that goes along with it really empowered and strengthened my motivation to advocate for these students. In this class, making learning visible, I tend to use what I learned to portray the advocacy that is needed to help students succeed and accomplish their long-term goals!

  9. As our course comes to an end, I am confident that both myself and my students will benefit from what I have learned about Reggio Emilia documentation as well as using digital storytelling as a tool for critical thinking. Documentation is a tool that i believe teachers have not been taught at its full potential, therefore I know I want to use documentation in my classroom as a feedback strategy for me, a learning process for my students, and as a mean to keep parents informed about what happens inside my classroom. Reggio Emilia inspired schools encourage their students to explore, make use of what is available to learn, reflect and develop skills and encourage teacher to pay attention to the vocabulary that students use that demonstrate understanding or confusion of the material or information. If we can learn to incorporate this into lesson plans, not only will parents and teachers have a better insight into the student’s thinking process and understanding but students will also learn to teach themselves, question themselves, and to improve by themselves.

    Digital story telling is another thing that I have learned its great value in a classroom setting; during our course we were asked to tell our own stories, and I can honestly say this has been an eye-opening experience. This assignment asked me to self reflect on the experiences that are or have been meaningful, which we all know that when a student can connect with the assignment motivation comes naturally. This assignment also asked me to challenge myself by using the information, material, and skills that we had been learning about in class but also challenge myself in acknowledging the feelings and emotions that his project would bring. By the end of this assignment not only did I feel successful in being able to incorporate the new skills I had learned, but I also felt proud that I was able to put myself out there, express something meaningful, and learn from my mistakes. If I am able to do this with my students, I can only imagine all the things that both them and I will learn.

  10. Before my time in Making Learning Visible, I had barely thought about documentation within the classroom. I never though that I had the capacity to “document” stories or work, until I redefined “documentation”. While taking this class, I realized that videos, pictures, and other form of documentation can be used in a variety of settings, from classrooms to hospitals. As a prospective elementary educator, I have learned that not only will documentation help students reflect on their own work, it has the ability for children to reflect on the work of others. From watching my peers’ stories to interviewing the focus of two of my projects, I have learned about the depth behind a story. Once the time is taken to fully listen to one’s story, the profundity and strength of words is realized. This course, Making Learning Visible, has taught me that stories exist all around us, even when we fail to recognize them. As an elementary education teacher I hope to teach my students from a young age that stories are meaningful and exist all around us. Stories have the power to change the world, when this idea is taught to younger generations, change will be made. Once the power behind a story is realized, one realizes the power of their voice. They are also more apt to become more empathetic and can better lend an ear to others.
    As an prospective teacher, it was very helpful to see samples of documentation within Reggio Emelia classrooms.
    During my first documentation project, my groups and I documented student’s work within a Reggio Emelia inspired first-grade classroom, right here in Boston. It was astounding to see the efforts made by the teacher and other members of the Boston Public School system to implement documentation. The students within the classroom reflected on their individual work and the work of their peers, in a very generous fashion. It was astounding to see the students work together within this inclusive classroom in a way that the students would remember their work and its impact, the next day.

  11. Matthew Woolverton April 30, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    I’d argue that in communications especially it’s remarkable easy to tell the simple story that is clear. To say the chicken crossed the road is a standard storyline most of us would find interest in and without too much difficulty find ways to make that story interesting. However, it is significantly more impactful to understand why the chicken crossed the road. It’s motivates, pressures, the implications crossing the road would have on that chicken. These factors are not only more significant but they allow creators like myself an opportunity to present an idea in a way that most wouldn’t immediately think of. While this may be more difficult than the story at face value we are all able to take more from the experience and reasons for it rather than just the story itself.

    In my professional future I hope to think about this much more heavily. Often it shouldn’t just be what is the story? But rather, why is this story worth telling? By asking ourselves that ahead of time not only will the viewers or audience we are attempting to reach enjoy and be entertained by our creation but they’ll be able to leave with a different perspective. That is the real goal at the end of the day. To show viewers a perspective that altered their beliefs, viewpoint, etc. in a different way.

  12. This past semester in the “Making Learning Visible” capstone course I have gained a greater appreciation of how important stories are and have come to realize just how large of a role they play in our everyday lives. No matter who you are, what profession you are in, or how you are raised, stories are all around us and shape our perspectives and view of the world. This course has helped me realize this and also how crucial our own personal stories are. By making meaning of our own stories we’re able to reflect on our lives; the struggles we’ve been through, the accomplishments we’ve achieved, and the goals we have set for ourselves. Through making meaning of our own stories we are hopefully able to inspire and connect with others who may have similar stories.

    During my time here at Wheelock I studied Special Education. From a special educator’s lens storytelling is crucial to the work we do. Making sure the individuals who are working with are receiving the correct accommodations and services they need heavily relies on the sharing of stories and the different perspectives that are shared about a person. It’s also really important to hear from the individuals themselves to acknowledge and hear their personal stories. By listening to one’s stories it will prevent us from assuming information about a person that is not true.

    One of the most important aspects of storytelling is the ability to actively listen to others’ stories. After graduation I will be running and facilitating outdoor based retreat groups for a non-profit organization. Through this work I will come into contact with diverse groups of people ranging from school groups, teens, and even adults. My ability to listen to others and acknowledge their stories; where they come from, and what they have been through will be so crucial for my success in the role. Storytelling is also a large part of relationship building. Through this role a large part of my job will be to help others strengthen their relationships with their group members. I hope to be able to to spread the importance of storytelling to the people and the groups who I work with as they really allow us to get deeper with people on a personal level and have the ability to bring people together in ways few other things can.

  13. As an Early Childhood Education major here at Wheelock, I was obviously enticed to take this class because the title “Making Learning Visible” just sounded very education based and for future teachers. When I looked into the description of the class it mentioned learning about the Reggio Emilia schools and their ways of documentation. This was exciting for me because I had already briefly learned about the Reggio Emilia schools in a prior class and thought they were incredibly interesting. As I went into this class thinking it was going to be primarily for future teachers here at Wheelock, I was quickly mistaken.

    When thinking about “Making Learning Visible” course this semester, I thought it was pretty safe to assume that it was going to be education based and help me better prepare for my future classroom. As this assumption was not entirely wrong, it was still a pretty bad assumption. This class touched on what the Reggio Emilia schools were and how documentation in their classroom is conducted and what it can tell teachers, but it was so much more than that. For the class, Stephanie and Susan had us create three different documentation projects on different things we cared about. For the two group projects, all of our projects revolved around documenting people, classes, events, or things here at Wheelock. I really enjoyed these projects since it is our last semester here and felt like it brought us closer to Wheelock as a whole. As these documentation projects taught us all more about Wheelock, it also taught us many technical skills that go along with documentation.

    Before this class I had never used applications like IMovie before in my life. I could not tell you how to upload media, cut pictures and sounds, adjust sounds, or how to work YouTube. I tried to avoid IMovie as much as possible with the first project and did more of a PowerPoint, which I was comfortable with. The second documentation project completely threw me out of that comfort zone though. Stephanie and Susan made it required that we each made a digital story about whatever we knew best. This meant I had to learn how to use IMovie and learn a new media platform. With this project, Susan taught us how to use IMovie, how to take an eye-appealing photo, and how write a storyboard. This project brought me so many new skills that I will not only be able to use in future classes or future classrooms, but in my daily life. Just a week after this project was due, I volunteered to create a video for the Dance Marathon here at Wheelock; something I would have never done before this class.

    In my opinion, the “Making Learning Visible” course here at Wheelock taught me so much more than what I thought I was going to learn based on the name and course description. This course taught me how to document children’s learning, which will be directly used in my student practicum next fall as I student teach at a Reggio Emilia school in Somerville. I believe that the ideas I learned in this class will better prepare me for that experience than any other classes I have taken thus far. As this course will help me document learning in my student teaching site or in my own future classrooms, it will also help me in my daily life. I have already begun using many of the technical skills I learned in this class from the IMovie workshop, the photo taking workshop, and the workshop on designs with our guest Greg Gomez. These skills are usually taught in design classes or other art classes; which I would have never been really enticed to take. This class gave me those skills as I was looking for a class to better help me in my future teaching career. I look forward to using all of the wonderful skills and ideas I learned in the “Making Learning Visible” course in my future life and future Early Childhood Education classroom.

  14. Steph Wise
    April 29th, 2018

    Making Learning Visible focuses on the documentation of different projects, stories, and ideas; no matter how big or small they are. Before I began this course, I thought that documentation had to be focused on large, important issues. In reality, documentation can be something as big as a year long project, or as small as a week-long unit. The key behind documentation is to remember that everything can be a story and an interesting process to observe.
    This semester, I have learned all about the process behind effective documentation. We learned about how documentation is done at Reggio Emilia schools, and traditional public schools. We also learned about how to make our documentation projects visually appealing. We were taught how to use iMovie, how to analyze images, and how to make our PowerPoints clean and polished. In addition, before each project was due, we would go through a “critique” process where we could give our peers a preview of our final projects. This was a new, helpful experience for me, because we could take our classmate’s input and apply it to our projects.
    In the future, I hope to implement documentation in my classroom. I believe that there are ways to present the final product in a classroom (for example, children’s artwork), and there are even better ways to show the children’s process to their product.

  15. SaraBeth Haskell May 1, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    As the Spring semester comes to a close and I have the chance to reflect on Making Learning Visible, I am filled with joy and confidence in my future abilities as an early childhood teacher. Making Learning Visible has equipped me with the tools to not only tell quality stories with integrity, but most importantly to me, document learning. I believe that in one way, story telling and the educational assessments of children are one in the same. It is the responsibility of the teacher to tell an accurate story that reflects the child’s strengths and weaknesses and then advancing on that information by using to it construct instruction that is tailored to them.

    Various activities throughout the course regarding story telling have reminded me of the Old Testament. In class, we have learned to take constructive criticism to improve our work and through that I have realized that there may be many different interpretations of messages I intend to put into the world. The Old Testament can be misinterpreted in many different ways. Any stories that originate as oral stories could potentially change over the years. Additionally, the Israelites used apocalyptic writing to convey the strength of their emotions regarding social upheavals. The misinterpretations of the Bible have affected people socially, politically, and religiously, in good and bad ways, for thousands of years. Something I struggled with before taking Making Learning Visible was how I was going to showcase the intellectual abilities of my students who are not particularly skilled at test-taking. How would their worth and capabilities be misinterpreted by their parents and the principal because of how I choose to tell the story of their progress, struggles, and accomplishments? The practice of documenting learning like we have learned about through Reggio education, has quelled those anxieties for me. I can now enter my practicum and future career prepared to tailor my assessments to the needs of the child.

    Finally, we have extensively dug into the technicalities of iMovie and advertisements. I am definitely now more able to put together displays in aesthetically pleasing ways. Because of this my content and message would hopefully be more well-recieved by my audiences.

  16. As an early childhood education major here at Wheelock, my future student’s learning and individual needs will be my biggest priority throughout my career. Throughout taking the course Making Learning Visible here at Wheelock College, I have learned information regarding story telling, how to document information such as a child’s learning and development, how to respectfully and positively critique, and much more. This class has focused on the documentation of specific areas of learning, such as in a classroom where children are in dramatic play or in a specific moment of one’s life. Learning how to tell stories through documentation has been one of my biggest take aways from this course. We as a class have seen examples of documentation in public school settings, in Regio Amelia schools, and in people’s everyday lives.
    Throughout this semester, I have completed three digital stories where one was done independently and two in a group. We worked to create PowerPoints, poster boards, and photos to portray our work. In doing so, I have learned the different aspects of documentation and what it truly means. Documentation doesn’t have to just be a list explaining what was done. Documentation can touch on a specific activity, a moment in one’s life, a moment in another person’s life, and many more.
    Looking towards the future, I hope to be able to conduct documentation within my classroom. I want to keep track of how my students learn and what steps they choose to use in order to do so. I did not expect to learn what I did throughout this course and I am thankful that I took part in this class. Storytelling is something that occurs every day, and in everyone’s life. I now feel equipped and prepared to document a variety of aspects in my life and I am excited to use this information in my full time practicum next fall.

  17. As an Elementary Education and Performing Arts major I am always searching for ways to bring both of these elements of my life together. While registering for my final semester of undergrad I thought that Making Learning Visible would be an excellent way to do that in my last semester. Even though the class focused on visual arts I saw a lot of potential for ways to incorporate performing arts into what we learned.

    As an education major I believe every lesson you plan has to tell a story or else your students won’t be engaged. Whenever I am teaching I try to put all my enthusiasm and energy into the lesson because it then will allow my students to do their best work. Also, as a teacher you have to keep records of students learning to see how the progress through the year. Documentation opened my eyes to a new way on how to keep records of student’s work. Documentation is all about letting students take control of their learning and allowing them to explore all of their options. From a teacher’s perspective it allows you to see what interest’s students and gives you an opportunity to make notes on how they learn. From the documentation you can then tell a story about the activities and what the students learned.

    Also, in this class we learned about digital story telling. Through this part of the class we learned basic design elements and how to work on iMovie. All that we learned about digital story telling helped me see how I could combine elements of this class and my performing arts major. I envision my students working on a project for a lesson that gives them options on how they want to present their learning, which includes a video, and allows me to document their learning. After this course I am excited to incorporate elements of all that I learned in this class into my future classroom.

  18. Hannah Linscott May 3, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    I was very hesitant to take this class. I was not sure I would be learning anything that I could utilize as a future social worker. However, I am so glad I enrolled. I was surprised by how much this class has impacted me and influenced how I think about my future. We all have stories. We all have important stories. Stories that we have been a part of and they are signs of our lived experiences. Some may influence a friend or family member. Some may impact an entire community, group, or even nation. We live our lives and collect stories as we go. No two stories are the same. Everyone comes to each experience with their reality and perspective. One story told 100 times to 100 different people is 100 different stories. Each person that may hear that story will interpret and understand it differently. My job as a future social worker is to support this storytelling. I only know what it is like to be me. I do not know what my clients see, hear, and feel every day. If I am to advocate for my future clients, I need to be able to help facilitate their storytelling. This class has given me to the tools to understand the most basic functions of storytelling and understanding stories. I hope in my future career I can assist my clients in telling their own stories and sharing their experiences. I think this could be incredibly important in any sort of advocacy or macro work that I may be involved in.

    In the past, I have worked with clients who want to fight for legislation and services for their communities. One of the biggest keys in fighting for new legislation is sharing personal stories. The group I was working with struggled with finding a way to best communicate their struggles as homeless women in Boston and Cambridge. It seemed unfair and unjust to have to reduce a lifetime of struggle and gross injustice into a short page. Had I had the knowledge I have now, I feel I would have been able to better help this group. I feel confident that I could now share my understanding of the essential functions and critical features of a story that captures audiences to best help my clients tell their stories. Although I struggled with this group, I hope I can do more for my clients going forward. I hope I can offer some of the tools they may need to help them share their stories and make the change they want to see in their lives.

  19. Brianna Doherty May 4, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    As an early education major I was familiar with the concept of documentation through my other classes, but this was the first class that focused almost solely on it. Documentation is such a powerful tool for educators to use. It allows you to really meet students where they are and help them grow as learners and be able to see that growth and share back with them. It helps all students to be able to share their strenghths as learners. In Reggio Emelio, where documentation is the heart of the school, there is a concept called the 100 language of children. The idea is the children communicate their learning in many many different ways; through writing, talking, drawing, dancing, etc. Documentaion allows teachers to capture and make visible those different ways of learning that may be missed in a traditional setting. It gives students a love of learning because instead of feeding students information to fit standards you’re tailoring the standards around their learning interests; this also gives students a powerful sense of agency in their own learning and thinking. Multiple times in this class we were shown examples of documentation of student’s work and were amazed by the level of skill and learning that was displayed by children that young.

    Because I had taken classes on documentaion before I wasn’t sure how much I was going to learn in this class and was very surprised. I learned so much about design and visual layout as well as technical skills. None of which I had ever been exposed to before. This class helped me understand of the idea of taking my documentation of students and presenting in a way that is visual appealing to others and tells a story. I also learned about storytelling. The idea of an essiential question at the heart of every story, and the ideas behind a story; why is this story important, who story is this to tell. Story telling is such a powerful tool. Every child and familiy has their own unique story and as an educator it is vital for me to learn about and respect those stories so I can create a respectful, collaborative, and welcoming classroom for children and their families

  20. Sarah Diettrich May 5, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    As an Early Childhood Education and Developmental Psychology major, I am constantly looking for ways to see how my students are improving and learning. One of the ways that I am able to see this is through documentation. Creating our own documentation projects, whether it was in groups or by ourselves, was incredibly fascinating. I am so grateful that for my first documentation project, I was able to visit a Reggio Emilia-style classroom inside of Boston Public Schools. I was able to see how a teacher can incorporate ideas from successful curriculum models like Reggio-Emilia in a school in Boston.

    My second documentation piece was a digital story of a personal story. This was one of my favorite assignments that I have completed throughout all of my classes. At first, selecting my story was difficult. It was also challenging for me to write and retell this story since it was such an emotional experience for me. It turned out to be quite cathartic for me to write about and share my story with others. This documentation also taught me the lesson that in order to be able to tell other individuals’ stories, I need to be able to tell my own. As a future early childhood educator, I will be telling my students’ stories, and I will be able to do so successfully because of the skills I learned from the Making Learning Visible course.

    My third documentation project looked at Math majors at Wheelock and why Wheelock math is so different but so special. I have taken math courses at Wheelock as a requirement for my teaching degree, so I knew how it worked, but I did not have as much on an in-depth experience as my peers. I enjoyed talking to them about their experiences with math, especially in how Wheelock’s different style of teaching math has helped so many students overcome their fear of math. Over all, the Making Learning Visible class has showed me how I can incorporate documentation and storytelling into my future classroom.

  21. I think it’s sometimes easy to overlook how significant stories can be when we’re trying to frame how we think about ourselves and the world. We’re constantly talking about people and events, we read, we gossip, we go on social media, we watch TV and we don’t always recognize that these are all forms of storytelling. I remember someone once telling me that we “live storied lives”. This class has taught me that stories are the way our minds make sense of our lives and the world. I think that we try to understand what’s going on around us by constructing stories to interpret what is occurring around us in relation to events and people. Stories are our way of creating our views of the world and constructing meaning about who we are as individuals, who others are, and who we are in relation to others. When humans tell stories it’s to form relationships, make connections, and create communities. Stories help us to share unique experiences and beliefs whether it’s through a verbal outlet, a blog, etc. As a teacher, I need to be able to tell stories effectively. I need to tell the stories of the students and families when they don’t have a voice to do it themselves and when they’re stories need to be told. I need to be a storyteller because we live in a world where people want to listen to stories and a good story can tug at heartstrings as well as purse strings. I need to be a storyteller to tell the stories of my classroom. It’s a great way to keep families engaged, to keep other teachers aware and enthused, to keep students motivated to keep doing what they’re doing because they are learning so much and are doing such an amazing job.
    As someone once told me, in order for something to make any real sense, you have to have created meaning out of it. Strategies that help students make meaning is more than worth the extra effort. Nothing goes into long-term memory unless it makes sense and has meaning. Of the two, they say, meaning-making has much more impact on long-term memory than sense-making. Let’s spend time designing learning experiences that create meaning for students and making sure that the knowledge is bought and not just rented. In order to accomplish this, teachers should: Connect new learning to previous learning. Connect new learning to students’ backgrounds. Model how the skill or concept is used. Demonstrate how content or skills create leverage (gain us something) in other subjects.
    Making Learning Visible has always been an intriguing thought. How can you give families and students more than just the final product? What about all of the wonderful things that went into the process? How can we communicate to other people just how valuable the learning going on in the classroom is? And the answer, for the most part, is to make learning visible through documentation. Documentation can be used to demonstrate work and progress, assess children and teachers through pictures and interpretation, as a form of reflection to help think about what comes next, what works and what doesn’t, how to strengthen your bond with individual children, and how to strengthen yourself as an educator. The best thing about making learning visible is that it may be the children’s picture in the documentation, but it also showcases the learning of the teachers.

    • Story telling is a basic reflex in people, we have been doing it since the beginning of people, stories to explain the questions people had about anything included in life, and as time progresses so do our stories. Being in this technological day and age stories are shared by the billions each second with the push of a button on twitter. We use stories to discuss and dissect events that have or are currently happening to us. This class asked us to document the lives of strangers and bring meaning to it that our class would understand, to have a purpose behind the story. Each story we presented gave us a reason to pay attention, the events were significant to someone so they became significant to us as we listened. This class allowed us to dive deeper into the purpose of story telling rather than just the act of story telling. Finding significance in others stories in key in understanding the perspectives and attitudes of that specific person, the stories they told say more than just the words they use, it was their personal connections to people places or things, their beliefs on how the world works and maybe even how they got to that point of thought. This class gave me a new perspective on story telling and documentation, it made me realize story telling gives us a deeper understanding of the story teller and when we document that and present it to others we share these ideas and thoughts and they spread and flourish with each individual they are exposed to.

  22. Samantha Zicolella May 8, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    As my future profession is to become a licensed clinician within a hospital setting, preferably on the trauma floor, I will be working with many clients. Through learning about documentation, I have found a connection between itself and my future profession. While working with clients who have experienced some form of trauma or who possess mental heath issues, it is crucial that I document the things they say, do, hear, and feel. It is also important to document their history prior to my time with them. This allows me to view all aspects of the individual in order to find the right approach, setting and treatment for them.

    I also have found a connection between visual learning and the job of a licensed clinician, as some classmates within this course chose to express emotional experiences through digital story telling. Once creating and sharing their stories, they seemed to feel a sense of relief. It allowed me to see that by creating digital stories, it can help a person cope with a traumatic experience by re exposing them to it and allowing them to paint the picture in which they choose. This may be something that I may try when working with clients in a hospital setting, in order to bring them a sense of peace with what they are struggling with. Or, I may find myself having clients create a digital story about something that brings them joy …this is to help promote positivity and success within their life.