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.

These examples use the convention I adopted to craft the final product. In this form, the story teller spins a tale of an event from a novelist’s perspective (with maybe a bit of loving bias sprinkled in). The afterwards sections include (1) an attentive and compassionate discussion of meaning from the educator’s experience, told directly to the child(ren), and (2) possibilities in the child(ren)’s future and for the school, voiced to these communities.

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

Each can be downloaded by clicking the link under the player.

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.

Josies Drip

Josies Drip


Priyankaa Draws

Priyankaa Draws, told by Sunita Bhandri, is an example of a story about a younger child photographed with a digital camera.

Priyankaa

Priyankaa


Fragile People Play

The Fragile People Play, told by Sarah Gese at Giddens School, 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.

FragilePeople

FragilePeople


Riley and Mateo

Riley Visits Mateo is a story of a playdate told by Mom, Birgit Laurent, 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. Mastery of each module is demonstrated to everyone in a Performance of Understanding, proving your own learning. In the final module, D4, the performance is to create a Learning Story that begins with children’s initiative and uses narrative documentation to tell a story specifically about either cooperation or perseverance, which were two of the three concepts studied. The third basic disposition studied was initiative.

RileyMateo

RileyMateo


Henry’s Bus

Henry’s first day of moving up to the older toddler classroom becomes a Welcoming Story, told by Rob Nessly. 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.

Henry

Henry


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.  Stories of altruism or cooperation can be used in group times to create a shared mythological playbox (Joseph Campbell Foundation).

MarbleRun

MarbleRun


Marmol

Marmol


Sascha and the Mirror

Here is an example of how a Learning Story is created from raw documentation—the reality of the traces of an event that happened one morning in play with the pattern blocks with Sascha, the five-year-old protagonist, as gathered by Emilly Hillsten Kays. Before showing you the final Learning Story, I review the options we have in using the raw traces in ways that are NOT a Learning Story, which challenges our view of best pedagogical practice. When we use facts we have gathered to retell the event from the point of view of the observer, with specific reflection pieces added, we have a Learning Story.

The Sascha story also highlights how play materials are an expressive language in which the child can represent experience. With experience over time a language can step deeper into the discovery of ideas and relationships. Oral language (English, here) does not communicate as well as the materials do themselves. Geometric shapes not only represent the known, Rafiki, but also step beyond to offer the discovery of ideas and meanings beyond what we see.

The basic documentation, images and transcribed speech, are facts—traces of a physical reality at one moment in time. What do we do with these traces?

Shall we keep them in a computer file?
Shall we show them casually to someone?
Shall we put them in a file or notebook as evidence for licensing?
Shall we send the pictures home?
Or shall we take the time to write a Learning Story?

Sascha Pattern Blocks

Sascha Pattern Blocks


Jolene Brushes Paint

Below are three resources for people to write their own learning story of Jolene at the easel. After watching the video multiple times, people can write on pages that have printed images of Jolene. They can compare their versions and possibly work together in teams to pull the best ideas together to make a cooperative story, which can then be shared with others. After! that sharing people can read the Learning Story Tom and Holly wrote that Jolene took home to her family.

  • 1′ 42″ Video of Jolene painting (below) which you can download from VIMEO,
  • Link to a PDF file to use with the video, JoleneBlank (four pictures per page without text), for workshop participants to try their hand at writing a Learning Story after watching the video over and over again.
  • Learning Story which you can also download Jolene Brushes Paint, provides the “answers” to the JoleneBlank exercise, which aren’t really answers. The Learning Story Holly and I created together is what we sent home with the child. It represents as completely as possible our perspectives from years of experience with tempera, knowing Jolene, and knowing her family. This is a unique story at a unique time by unique people, which could never be replicated by anyone else. Jolene, by the way, loves squirrels.

We all get to write from our unique perspectives; when combined with the perspectives of others, we become more careful observers and more capable authors.

Video


Exercise

JoleneBlank


Slide Show (view after exercise completed)

Jolene

Jolene


 

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