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What is pedagogical documentation and how can we as educators use it as a tool for responding to children’s ideas, planning next steps, authentic assessment, and reflection on our own practices and thinking?
What is pedagogical documentation?
Simply put, pedagogical documentation is so much more than a collection of observations of children’s learning. It is a collection of observations, photographs, videos, thoughts, ideas, reflections and voices that are woven together to create a richer and deeper understanding not only of children’s interests but of their thinking, ideas and ways of learning. Each of these components, when displayed alone, are just a display. However, when pulled together as a collection, become pedagogical documentation.
It is a tool for thinking, learning and planning that helps educators study, reflect upon and learn about not only the children they work with but also about themselves as protagonists who play a major role in children’s educational journeys.
Pedagogical documentation is not merely a celebration or display of learning experiences that children have been involved in.
- It is a way of following children’s development and to assess how best we can support their learning
- It encourages us to reflect on children’s thinking and ideas
- It supports us to be reflective, both individually and as part of our wider teaching team
- It provides a way to communicate meaningfully with families, about children’s learning
When thinking about the many ways that we can document, it is important to remember that small and ordinary moments, when pulled together can create a rich record of what learning is happening for children. These smaller moments, when gathered together as a collection alongside other forms of documentation, not only deepen our understanding about children but also inform our planning processes.
“Pedagogical documentation...is a way of making visible the often otherwise invisible learning processes by which children and teachers work in early childhood centres and schools.”
- Cadwell, 1997
What types of artefacts can we gather together to create a richer picture of children’s learning?
- Transcripts of children’s conversations
- Teachers questions, thoughts and ideas
- Samples of children’s artwork and creations
- Children’s thoughts, ideas and theories
- Parents thoughts, and ideas
- Educational theory
These artefacts serve to come together, almost as pieces of a puzzle and when woven together, allow us to support children’s learning in more meaningful ways. When documenting these smaller moments, we are ensuring that we are able to provide experiences and scaffold children’s learning in a more timely manner. As the documentation evolves with the assembling of these artefacts, we are able to see how children’s ideas and strategies for learning develop over a period of time.
An important aspect of pedagogical documentation is the way in which educators reflect not only on children’s learning but also on their own learning and understandings.
Having both individual and group reflections are vital if we are to work together to support optimal learning outcomes for children.
How Storypark is enhancing pedagogical documentation practices in Canada
More resources on Pedagogical Documentation
We talk a lot about how documentation makes children’s learning visible and the importance of this, but have you ever stopped to consider what else is made visible? It makes teaching visible too!
An independent study highlights four positive impacts for educators.
A summary of the first independent, systematic study to examine the impact of digital documentation technology in an early learning setting in Canada.
Documenting children’s learning is much simpler to achieve through the process of story writing because it allows educators to paint a picture of children in a particular light – showcasing their strengths, skills, interests and needs at any given time.
Downloadable Storypark Quality Practice Guide: Creating rich assessment
Download the guide
A fantastic guide that will help you find strategies to effectively create rich documentation of children’s learning
From the Storypark Blog...
Who is documentation really for, at the end of the day who does it belong to? Is it a record for the child now or in the future? A tool for children to reflect on their recent learning? A way of sharing and engaging parents, family and communities in a child’s learning? Or a way to report to provide evidence of assessment of learning and development to agencies?
As educators transition through their studies in the field, they develop observation and reflection skills over time. Enhancing your understanding of children’s developmental domains is essential to being able to make an analysis of children’s learning and growth…but where does pedagogy come in?
When the term documentation is discussed amongst early childhood educators there is often a feeling of fear…a pause in time where professionals stop and hold their breath, the angst of the topic written clearly all over their face. What feeds this feeling in professionals and can we find some grounding through exploring the Reggio way of documentation?
The rapid expansion of technology in everyday life has meant that the tools available to early childhood educators to use in pedagogical documentation are many. Ministories are a type of pedagogical documentation specific to the Reggio Emilia Project and provide us with a different and more authentic way of documenting that enables us to link the every day to the extraordinary.
The story of Storypark
Storypark originated in New Zealand and we have a growing number of high-quality ECE centres using Storypark successfully in Canada.
We work with key partners, organizations and advisors in Canada including the Canadian Childcare Federation and Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development to ensure Storypark meets the needs of Canadian educators and families, providing quality outcomes for young children.