Looking Closely at Children

Examples of Learning Stories

Here are eight Learning Stories for you to download, discuss, and offer to others in order to spread ever more widely the practice of pedagogical narration following Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee’s exemplars of Learning Stories. This convention is one that I adopted to give a bit of structure to the final product; it was modified and made much clearer by Margie Carter and Deb Curtis.

If you want to see the true source, I invite you to go to Kei Tua o te Pae at the Ministry of Education of New Zealand / Aotearoa.

Josie’s Drip

Josie’s drip was recorded on videotape. The camera was pointed at the entire table of children, so images were taken from the video, cropped and enlarged to focus only on her. Here is Pre-K Science for those of you who are politically enamored of STEM for children under age 6, who, by the way are naturally scientists.

Priyankaa Draws

Priyankaa Draws is an example of a story about a younger child photographed with a digital camera.

Fragile People Play

The Fragile People Play shows all six Passages of The Learning Frame in one story of a group of girls creating a performance from their play with dolls. I invite you to read this and see if you don’t agree that moving through all six passages is transformation. Those children are changed forever by this experience. They now view themselves as storytellers and playwrights.

Riley and Mateo

Riley Visits Mateo is a story of a playdate told by a Mom, an early childhood educator. I include it to give you a glimpse into my educational program for teachers called Connecting to Children an entirely constructivist, locally conducted, year-long investigation into how one behaves with children at the most fundamental level. In the final module, D4, that performance is to create a Learning Story that begins with children’s initiative and demonstrates Looking Closely at Children tell a story about either cooperation or perseverance.

Henry’s Bus

Henry’s first day of moving up to the older toddler classroom becomes a Welcoming Story. Wendy Lee clued me into the challenge of creating a Learning Story in the first two weeks of a child’s enrollment. It is always possible to take at least one photo of each child that shows engagement, the second passage.

Joy with the Marble Run

Joy with the Marble Run, in English, or Alegría con la ejecución de Mármol
, in Español, highlights cooperative action, the kind of story when retold to the class helps develop a cooperative democratic cooperativa y democrática culture in the school, one of the topics covered elsewhere here in Peer Relationships, Stories of altruism or cooperation can be used in group times to create a shared mythological playbox (Joseph Campbell Foundation).

Sasha and the Pattern Blocks

Here is an example of how a Learning Story is enriched and enlivened into a timeless story for all children about friendship and joy becoming a lasting addition to the culture of a school or a family.

Jolene Brushes Paint

Here is a 1′ 42″ video of Jolene painting (below) which you can download from VIMEO,
16 page PDF document (one picture per page without text) for workshop participants to try their hand at writing a Learning Story after watching the video,
and the Learning Story slide show which you can also download.

Tom and Holly Koehler wrote this story based on the video clip and gave it to the child, who, by the way loves squirrels. Our version isn’t a “right” answer, since there is no correct way to write a Learning Story.  We are both educators who have spent over 20 years thinking about children’s paintings. We all bring different perspectives to this work, which is precious.

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