A “Boundary Object” – Ethics of Learning Stories

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One of the main challenges in education is how can we as educators communicate what we are learning about student learning with parents, other staff and the wider school community?

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While we know that documentation involves “observing, recording, interpreting, and sharing, through a variety of media, the processes and products of teaching and learning in order to deepen learning” (Campbell et al. 2016, p.1). I also like to point out that research provided evidence of the positive impact that documentation has on the multiple aspects of learning, including the emotional, the cognitive, and the social. Educator and student learning are interwoven, like the Te Whaariki approach to curriculum. Both educators and learners benefit from the documentation process(Campbell et al. 2016).

On one hand, educators become researchers as they delve “into their story of the movement of children’s understanding” (Campbell et al. 2016, p.2), and reflect and discuss on their practice with other colleagues. In addition to that, documentation “supports students’ learning from early childhood to secondary school” (Campbell et al. 2016, p.2). It also empowers them to articulate their thinking, feelings and beliefs about themselves and their learning.

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On the other hand, when listening to young children educators “learn to attribute value to aspects of learning experiences from the learner’s perspective” (Campbell et al. 2016, p.2). They also come to know the students on a much deeper level making differentiated instruction easier to achieve. They also watch them “grow into strong, capable learners accustomed to sharing their thinking in open dialogue with peer and teachers” (Campbell et al. 2016, p.3). Knowing your students and taking the time to really listen to them is important. Educators’ careful listening is essential because what we might assume the students are learning, thinking, or feeling could be completely different from what they have to say! Recording their words on either paper or iPad is vital (Campbell et al. 2016).


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However, one of the biggest challenges that educators encounter is the ‘going public’ with their documentation whether they use visual displays, document panels, bulletin boards, digital portfolios or classroom blogs, “their true intention is to open a window onto the work and thought processes of the learners”  (Campbell et al. 2016, p.2). For that reason, learning stories and portfolios physically cross boundaries,  and the idea in them do too. Because of that, learning stories are referred to as ‘Boundary Objects’. “They can begin conversations with families about their children’s learning, provide opportunities to connect the children’s learning in the classroom or the early childhood center to their lives (and selves) in other places, and make connections with the wider community outside the center or classroom” (Carr et al.2012, p. 62). It also provides opportunities for children to “explain their own meaning and enable the teacher to emphasize the connections between episodes and to the learning valued at the center” (Carr et al. 2012, p.107-108).   When engaging in a learning community challenged by issues of alignment, children are also learning how to find ways to coordinate multiples perspectives, thus built their own identity (Carr et al. 2012).

The following is a link to Amanda’s Blog ideas retrieved from Campbell et al. (2016)…. Take a minute and explore Amanda’s blog

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Campbell, T. A., Brownlee, A., & Renton, C., A. (2016). Pedagogical Documentation: Opening Windows onto Learning. Ministry of Education. Research monograph (61). Retrieved from: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/ww_pedagogicdoc.pdf

Carr, M., & Lee, W. (2012). Learning stories: Constructing learner identities in early education. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Image 1 retrieved from: http://www.learningstories.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Boundry-objects.png

Image 2 retrieved from:http://www.bups.vic.edu.au/uploads/1/7/7/8/17782359/3893076_orig.png

Image 3 retrieved from: http://jobrouter.com/sites/all/themes/corporateclean/images/button-documentation.jpg

Image 4 retrieved from:http://cache.trustedpartner.com/images/library/MentalHealthPBC2009/Content/LTC%20%28color%29%20Logo.jpg

Image 5 retrieved from:

Image 6 retrieved from : http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-EJnhHEAWV5o/U4i41CxibQI/AAAAAAAAEo8/bF2HU5jKEss/s1600/listen+to+kids.png

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