Sunday, June 5, 2011

Documenting Past Learning for Future Planning

The school year is over for us, and as I began taking down, packing up and putting away, I took time to take a few pictures of the charts on the walls. I wanted to document some of the learning we had done together. I also took lots of pictures of student work, especially in writing. I wanted to have a record of what students did in response to minilessons and how it looked when done by first grade authors and illustrators. I don't do this so that I can simply recreate charts from year to year--in fact, I avoid that. Pulling out old charts and reusing them or copying them from a photo without thinking about what my current students already know and can do and what they need is not thoughtful, deliberate, or responsive instruction.

However, keeping a record of old charts helps me remember things that were powerful for my students, and I've learned that it helps to have pictures of student work to go with the charts. That way I can see how students were able to use what I was teaching.  I don't have easy access to a color scanner, so I've started taking pictures as a way to collect full color examples of charts and student work. The bonus is that I have a collection of student work to use as mentor text--whether I'm working directly with students or collaborating with colleagues.

I save the pictures in folders with charts, articles, and notes about units of study. I am trying to remember to include digital copies of any paper planning forms I use and have learned to wait to scan or photograph these until after a unit of study, when my planning forms include observation notes, changes I made and things I want to remember for the future. When colleagues do a similar study with their students, I sometimes ask to take pictures of their charts and student work as well.

As I took pictures, I was thrilled to see how the kids had used what we were studying as they created books and poems. Some of their work made me laugh--working with first graders is fun! Here are some charts from recent studies and some examples of student work. Notice how the kids tried out what we were learning.

See the question in the heading?
These questions served as the heading for a new section
in  book about plants.

Sometimes the diagram contains much more information
than the text.

The author of this piece not only used a heading,
but also made sure the diagram helps the reader
understand the process he describes in the text
(which continues on to another page). 

My favorite example of zooming in--check
 out the cat's eye peeking around the corner
of the cage! And the hamster has no idea. 

Used a heading--and see the fun fact in the top right corner?
It says, "boys can pee on you". The baby in the picture is
 also wiggling during a diaper change (this author got a
new baby brother this spring).
I've got lots more--but these are a few that I know I'll pull out again. I like having several different options to show kids so that they can begin to imagine possibilities for their work instead of copying one pattern of use. Having pictures of the charts and student work and my notes will help me consider possibilities when planning in the future, and I know I'll be glad to have mentor texts from real first grade writers. 

1 comment:

  1. This is excellent recording of your teaching process & the results of that same work. I imagine that many would like to hear & see what you are doing, along with the examples. I love using the real thing, which is really motivating for the students, to see what others just like them have done before. I know it must help tremendously in the planning, as you said at the end. Thanks much for explaining in detail & sharing.