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Note: The "Learning Stories" template shown in this article is available at "Online EYLF Tools". Click here to go to Online Tools to download these templates and complete your Learning Stories documentation directly from your computer.
There are a number of ways to document children’s learning and one of those ways is through a Learning Story. With detail descriptions like in a narrative, a Learning Story provides an informative approach of the experience and the events that occurred.
The following are explained in this article:
A Learning Story is a format used to document a child’s learning. It uses “story telling” to describe a child’s learning process. There are many details that are incorporated into a learning story which describes: the experience that un-fold, how the child interacts, conversations, interests, skills etc. Basically it’s a narrative of recognizing and describing the learning that is taking place through a child’s play.
Learning Stories are also used as an assessment tool in interpreting a child’s learning habits that take place during the experience. This helps us to evaluate and plan for further experiences to extend upon a child’s interest and strengths.
A Learning Story is just that… 'A story that tells a tale to those who are reading it'. It uses the same concept as a “narrative”. It should focus on a child, about the decisions they make and the consequences that follow.
When beginning to write a Learning Story, it’s important to have pictures of the child in the experience. However, the more photos you have, the more details you can obviously convey. By using photos as part of your Learning Story, you can simply write the text to accompany the photos. Remember, a learning story is a story with descriptive details, not just a series of captions for photos.
When writing Learning Stories it’s recommended that you talk about yourself in first person using “I”. This gives you an opportunity to put yourself in the same experience as the child and described what you watched and discovered.
To begin with start off by talking about when and where this experience took place – a setting where your story starts. Describe the events that led up to this experience.
Please note: For the example I am writing an individual learning story. The same method should also be used when writing group learning stories as well.
Over the past couple of days the children in the group have been identifying different colours within the environment so I wanted to extend on this experience by introducing a colour mixing experiment to each child. While outside today I set up the paint easel near the table along with 3 paint pots of yellow, blue and red.
Next, move onto the events that happened during this experience. Introduce the “characters” of the learning story. You can include conversations and interactions, describe what you had watched, what child did through the experience, describe the person, the scene or the event in detail etc. Simply try to describe what the child says and does…
As I was setting up Kelly stood watching me. “I like painting, is it my turn to paint”. Kelly called over to Roger “Hey, want to paint with me”, Roger walked over to Kelly to where the easel was set up and picked up a paintbrush. He watched Kelly make a circle on the piece of paper in yellow paint. Roger dipped his paintbrush in the blue paint and traced around Kelly’s circle. “Why did you do that” Kelly asked. Roger smiled “I made green” he commented. Kelly laughed “cool, I want to make more, you use blue and I use red” Kelly instructed. Roger blobbed the blue paint onto the paper and Kelly mixed in the red “hey, I made purple” Kelly said. Kelly picked up another paintbrush, one in each hand and dipped it in each of the yellow and blue paints and began to make large circles onto the paper “I can make green too” she said to Roger. Kelly unclipped her paper from the easel and put it on the floor “I want to take it home when it dries” Kelly said.
It’s important that you should identify and include the learning that took place within this experience. Aim to describe why the events are significant to the child and reflect on what learning took place. Find a way to describe why this experience was important for the child involved.
Through this experience I observed you Kelly becoming strong in your social and emotional wellbeing. You are increasingly co-operate and works collaboratively with others “Hey, want to come and paint with me”, you made new discoveries “hey, I made purple” and you recognize the contributions you made to shared projects and experiences “cool, I want to make more, you use blue and I use red”. Kelly, I also watched you be a confident learner by following and extending on your own interests and you are a curious and enthusiastic participant in your learning.
Think about how you may encourage and extend on the interests, abilities, understandings and play that have been demonstrated throughout this learning story. This can include an experience, a particular game or a topic that the child may want to explore.
To extend on this learning experience we will set up a marble painting experience which will enable Kelly to continue experimenting with mixing colours together.
Once you have completed your Learning Story then you will need to link it to the EYLF Learning Outcomes. Have a read through each of the Learning Outcomes and identify the ones you think best describes the goals that were achieved through experience.
There will be many times when writing up group learning stories; you will want to add them to each individual child’s portfolios who were involved in the group experience. Typically when adding a group learning story to an individual child’s portfolio you will need to write up individual one’s for each child’s involvement. This is because what one child learns through the experience may not be the same as what another child gains from it. The best way to get around it is when you do a group learning story, take individual photos of each of the children involved. You can use the same learning story as you did for the group BUT when adding to each child's portfolios you can edit the learning story by adding any of their own comments, change the “Analysis of Learning” to the individual child, and select the EYLF learning outcome that apply to that particular child. You should also include any of the child’s photos from the experience onto the learning story itself. So, after some re-editing from a group learning story it is possible to include them into individual children’s portfolios. By doing this, it will focus on the individuals child involvement of the experience rather than the “group”.
There is no set number of how many learning stories should be written during the week. You could have 1 or 2 a week depending on the learning experiences that take place during the day. Since a learning story is written in detail, you should use a learning story for any spontaneous experience or children's interest that happens. Also, if you have any special events that take place at the centre then a learning story should be written. Think of it this way, if you want everyone to know about a particular experience that took place and the children were very interested in or something special happened then use this opportunity to write up a learning story.
A Learning Story should incorporate elements like a narrative. It should be have an array of details so that the reader is seeing, hearing, smelling and touching. By reading through a Learning Story you should be able to experience it, not just simply hear it.
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Date uploaded: 06 Feb 2012.
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