Walking into the Early Learning Center, you may notice that the walls are covered in pictures and children’s artwork. While it is not unusual for teachers to display their students’ work, the images that adorn the ELC’s walls are also accompanied by quotes, stories and descriptions. They are making learning visible.
Making Learning Visible (MLV) is a Harvard University project and philosophy that “explores the power of the group as a learning environment and documentation as a way to deepen and extend learning.” Fourteen of our ELC teachers participated in the MLV course through Harvard University last school year and have since applied the philosophy to their classrooms.
Our teachers at the ELC have been using various forms of documentation for their activities and learning experiences. Reflecting the MLV philosophy, documentation not only focuses on what the students do but also details the learning aspect of each experience. Sometimes the students’ work or evidence of their activities are accompanied by quotes from the children themselves. Walls are not the only place that learning can be made visible. ELC Teachers also maintain folders of student work and are active on the web as well. Examples of the ELC’s web presence are the nursery class blogs: Nami Pettit and Debbie Iwabuchi’s class blog and Julie Zamorano and Natalie Hundleby’s class blog.
The different forms of documentation allow teachers to stay connected with their students’ learning and interests, can foster group learning and a group identity among students, and expresses the value teachers place on their educational activities. Additionally, visible documentation can encourage questions and conversations between students, parents and teachers.
If you would like to learn more about MLV and the philosophy behind documentation and creating a learning community, visit Harvard’s Project Zero website.