Observing and Recording

Where do we begin?

Begin with what you wonder about in your environment (Tarr, 2010).

What do the students KNOW?

How are they feeling about making?

What piques their interests?

Do they prefer one form over another? Are they able to make sense about what they are making?

Do they have the vocabulary to describe their thinking about what they are making?

What questions do they have?

How can we build upon, extend and apply their knowledge in different contexts?

What forms can documentation take?

How do we ensure that we choose the right documentation tools?

Tips and Tricks for Observing and Recording

Be open to the moment and look for the unexpected as that is where our students true assets lie. Pay particular attention to when things are going great .... and not so great in the makerspace and document what is happening.

Document the emotions students are experiencing in the makerspace - and how they are communicating with each other. How students are reacting to making are key indicators of not only the quality of the learning experience, but how it might need to be accommodated to better fit their needs. Paying close attention to how our students are feeling can also help disrupt assumptions we have about our learners and the experiences they are having in the makerspace.

Develop sustainable habits for documentation. This is something that I struggle with daily and have yet to figure out.

  • How can you organize your notes so you won't lose them?
  • How can you find them easily?
  • How will you store/keep them so you can access them at a drop of a hat? (My notes are often written on scraps of paper that I cobble together)
  • How could you use technology to help assist in your organization?

  • Keep your device with you and be ready to document.
  • Upload media directly to a video-sharing website (such as You Tube or Vimeo) and your classroom blog.
  • Keep blogs and websites secure by requiring users to enter a password
  • Keep notes in the notebook function or use an application like Evernote for mobile devices.
  • Organize photos using web albums or photo-organizing software.

When documenting, especially with technology, we must remain cognizant of how all students and student work are being showcased with respect. Free and informed consent must be gathered and we must ensure that student privacy is respected and personal information remains confidential.

Parnell, W., & Bartlett, J. (2012). iDocument: How smartphones and tablets are changing documentation in preschool and primary classrooms. Young Children, 67(3), 50-57.

Tarr, P. (2010). Curiosity, curriculum and collaboration entwined: Reflections on pedagogical documentation. Canadian Children, 35(2), 10-14.