Hunter Park Kindergarten

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thoughts on who learning stories are for.

As a team our association was recently challenged, on a teacher only day, to think about the learning stories we write, who they are for, what they are for and how we write them. We were also challenged to think about how “subject” knowledge, dispositions and skills are provided for and assessed in our kindergartens.

It was a thought provoking dialogue and one that continues to evolve in our minds.

For me I found I’ve held the belief that we’re writing learning stories:
-For the child (as formative assessment to help them revisit and extend their learning reflected in the story.)
-For their parents and family (as a tool to communicate what we’re seeing and invite feedback to help develop a better picture of the child and their learning.)
-For the Kindergarten staff (to help us plan for children and to help us share insights on children with each other.)

Add to that the conclusion I reached after working with schools last year that we’re also writing them for the child’s future teachers at the early childhood and primary level (and even onwards to tertiary if you think about it) and this makes you think.

It’s interesting exercise for example, when a child transfers to your centre and shares their profile, to see what can be gleaned and how easy that information can be accessed. Even more interesting is to challenge yourself to think how you can make the profile you prepare a useful and valuable document for the future teachers of children your write for.
Talking to one child who shared a profile with me recently I found they were able to identify eight friends in the photo’s present (often not the featured child in the photo whom sometimes they didn’t even recall). From my reading of the profile however, on my own, I’d only identified one of the friends pointed out by the child in the narrative, though I had been able to gain some insight into their dispositions, strengths and interests. From this I found both that learning stories are more valuable when read alongside the child, but also had to ask are we putting all the information into them that we could be and how accessable is it.) end of aside.

Adding to my thoughts about who learning stories are for, one reading from the day; “The stories we share:Using narrative assessment to build communities of literacy participants in early childhood centres” Australian journal of Early Childhood 2006, vol. 31 no.1, pp.27-34, Ann Hatherly; lead me to think about “The merit of the stories as literacy artifacts.”

I asked myself, if we are writing for the child, providing a holistic, print rich environment for them, what would be the effect if we add to our stories brief sentences attached to the pictures in large print, preferably in the child’s words? How will that add to their developing literacy skills?

I have often heard it said, how readable is the story as a narrative for the child, can they have it read to them at bedtime?

I've decided I'll look for chances to give it a try and so my thoughts on learning stories keep evolving.

Just some thoughts for now, (any feedback welcome), in the meanwhile I’ll keep thinking.

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