Documenting classroom activity

Posted on Friday, 3/29/2013 2:50 pm

If teachers are trying to find new ways to improve the instruction they deliver to students, they should consider the benefits of documenting their classrooms. Not only do instructors stand to gain from the documented information, but any peers they share it with may benefit as well.

What does documenting a classroom entail?
There are many ways for educators to document a classroom. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), documentation typically features a student's work at different stages. If a parent or teacher wishes to understand how a pupil has developed, he or she can view the documentation, which may include a mix of photographs, comments and other materials that can help tell a story of how a child progressed.

If educators require focus in terms of what they should be documenting, the NAEYC suggests a few options, such as how students are progressing in terms of language development. As schools transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), it will be important for teachers to make sure pupils are meeting them. Documentation may be able to show how well students are performing as they become more familiar with the CCSS.

Approaches to documentation
How teachers approach the classroom documentation process is ultimately up to them. However, they may want to consider using a bulletin board, a portfolio, slide shows or movies to capture students' academic progress.

When school officials decide to document their classroom, they also have an opportunity to flex their creative muscles. The District of Columbia Public Schools provides a good example of what a school system can do with a little technology. Using a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the DC Public Education Fund, the district created a series of videos on effective teaching. The videos, which are viewable online, highlight what the district believes to be examples of quality teachers doing what they do best.

While not every school district has the ability to produce high-quality videos, the District of Columbia Public Schools show how documentation can be shared online with educators in their immediate area and beyond.

The benefits of documentation
According to the NAEYC, when teachers have access to various forms of documentation, they can gain insight into students' thinking processes as they learn. This, in turn, leads to a better understanding of the ways in which children absorb new information, which can inspire future instruction.

If students' test results reveal they simply are not learning, teachers can turn to documentation to discover what exactly the problem may be. After a careful review of the material, instructors could discover what it is that is preventing their pupils from reaching their full academic potential.

When students' academic progress is documented, whether on film or a bulletin board, teachers also have an opportunity to provide parents with a glimpse into how their children are performing at school. This raises the level of interaction between educators and parents, which can only benefit pupils' development.


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