Thursday, September 20, 2012

Documentation vs Display

So many teachers struggle with documentation. Some create displays of art, others of pictures but there is a fine line between documentation and display. Documentation is a display that allows parents, other teachers and even the children see what has been learned or development and growth. Display is a showcase of art.

Some of the problems teachers face in creating documentation is that they have very little time, even less resources and some may not see what children are learning from their activities.

It is very important for teachers to educate themselves about what children are learning. It is obvious when the student is doing math or reading, but some may question what children are learning from art, dance or free dramatic play. Elementary school teachers that I have met rarely think about these things, it isn't really taught at all in the curriculum of the elementary school teachers education. They have a lot to learn from the preschool teachers, who are always justifying the "play" that their students learn from.

For example children are learning when they are painting because they are mixing colors, holding the brush, and making decisions about what they will paint. They might also learn how to share the space, the time and the paints. They are also physically developing their core muscles by standing at the easel, their hand eye coordination as well as their hand grip muscles, and small motor skills. They might further learn how to paint without getting it all over their clothes, hands and face, or they might learn that they love the feel or smell of the paint. This is just one example of the life skills that are being learned.

A display for the picture created by the child above might be just to hang it on the wall. The child is certainly happy about this, the parents also will admire the art of their future Monet, however this is a miss opportunity for them to learn what is being learned by painting. When the teacher takes a moment to create an observation of the painting, how the child was standing, holding the paint brush, how long it took, or any growth that is noticed in the act of or actual painting the parents and other teachers have learned the importance of a child "just painting" and it only takes a moment.

Displays can be beautiful and enjoyable, adding a few observations or mentioning what the children learned from the activity makes is Documentation and give teaching a profession.


A quilt created by 8th graders made after a slavery unit. The process was documented through pictures and a description of what was learned through the process was hung next to the quilt. Quilting was used as quilts were used as a way to communicate through the underground railroad.

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