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Making Thinking Visible – Exploring The Role of Documentation

At the end of Wednesday’s school day, a group of Richland Faculty loaded a six passenger vehicle and made their way westbound to Hamilton to partake in a professional development series on Making Thinking Visible, presented by Seneca Professor, Louise Jupp.The evening’s session focussed on the features of documentation through an inquiry lens.  We examined the following five features of documentation;

  • a specific question
  • interpretation and evaluation of observations
  • use of multiple languages
    making learning visible
  • retrospective and prospective

Louise referred to the importance of the inquiry experience as an instrument to develop a new and different vision of oneself and one’s actions through the use of all our senses. The open-endedness of inquiry learning, as well as the art of documentation, act as catalysts to cognitive development. Documentation facilitates the turning of the pages of the inquiry process, opening the doors to dialogue, and the path to further learning and the layering of knowledge.Our engagement in the marble run activity enabled us to see ourselves in relation to one another. We understood and empathised with the complexity and the depth involved in a child’s learning journey and how they contribute to that learning.As a group, when reflecting on our learning journey, one filled with innovation and creativity, we discovered that our chosen roles and communication styles had an impact on that journey.  We understood the importance of collaboration and social dynamics as we experimented with the materials provided to create marble runs that put scientific principles into practice.

We look forward to our next session when we will be invited to take a closer look at images, and their central role in making learning visible. We will participate in reflective discussions around the roles of documentation, emergent curriculum, and the facilitation of experiences for children.On our next trip to Hamilton our journey led us to an evening of images and working documentation.Why are images so important to documentation? Photographs give us a window into what children see and understand, but words, too, are images.  Both are languages that support and work together to tell a story.  The written sets the context for the image.  A question that arose from us was, “What considerations does the photographer have in mind when taking a photo?”

Building Curiosity, and Other Conversations at OISE

Mrs. Daniel joined over 200 participants, mainly from the Public Schools Boards, in an engaging and thought provoking symposium held at OISE in downtown Toronto (Ontario Institute of Child Studies). Key note speakers were Annie Kidder (Executive Director, People for Education), who stressed the importance of parent engagement in learning; Kang Lee, Professor of at OISE, who focused on the emergence of lying in kindergarten, (“Little Liars, Emergence of Dishonesty in Early Childhood and Implications for Education”), and Charles Pascal, Professor of Applied Psychology and Human development, who shared the importance of listening carefully to children’s learning stories.

Team sessions offered covered such topics as:

  • “Math for young children; tapping into symmetry”
  • “Building curiosity”
  • “Connecting with families through discovery”
  • “Engaging families in a rural setting”
  • “A picture tells a thousand words”

Mrs. Daniel attended the workshop “Building Curiosity”, and enjoyed learning about inquiry based projects from The Crescent Town School.  Projects included investigating buses, trains and trams; creating an iMovie linked to Earth Day; mealworms; trees, and art centres based on learning about famous artists.

Following this, Professor Kang Lee shared his research relating to children and lying, and the importance of moral and social development in children.  He stressed that lying is a paradox, and an adaptive behaviour.  Humans cannot tell lies, nor the truth all of the time, and that there are many reasons for lying:

  • to benefit oneself.
  • to be polite.
  • to flatter. To ‘suck up.’
  • to protect a group.
  • to be modest.

He went on to share that by about four years of age, children are able to understand it is wrong to hide a transgression, and that white lies are acceptable. They are able to verbalise what a lie is, but there is a disconnection between knowing what a lie is and being honest.  He explained that it is practically impossible to tell if a young child is lying from their facial expressions or eye contact, and that children are able look someone in the eye and lie to them. On a positive note, he felt lying was linked to executive functioning, and it was a good indicator that a child had reached a developmental milestone, which involved inhibitory control, working memory and planning. He felt modelling honesty and asking the child to promise not to lie were the best methods to encourage honesty.