I outline how I collect and use Kindergarten documentation. Set yourself and your students up for success with a simple and easy way to document!
When I first started teaching in kindergarten, I didn’t really know what I needed to document, how to document or why I was really doing it. So I just took a lot of pictures of my students.
Now that I understand my kindergarten curriculum document (The Kindergarten Program 2016), I am much better at focusing my documentation. Now, I seem to have figured out an effective way to document that helps me and my students as well.
When we are looking to document the learning in the classroom, we want to be able to use it to inform our planning and provide next steps for our students. Unfortunately, just taking a picture doesn’t really accomplish that goal.
Instead, I like to look at my documentation in 2-3 ‘phases’:
- Determine where your student is in their knowledge. This gives us a baseline as to what they know about a topic or their skill development.
- Show the student’s growth. This is where you can show what they’ve learned or their progress in acquiring a skill. They may be able to do an AB pattern all day long, but I don’t need 10 pictures of that. I will document their progress when they are able to make ABBA patterns, or extend a pattern, or when they use math vocabulary to describe a pattern.
- Sum up a student’s learning. I don’t always do summative assessments, but they can be useful for me to gauge a student’s learning on a certain topic at select times throughout the year (letter recognition, number sense skills, ect.)
What to Document
In my classroom, I like to give my students lots of opportunities to practice using various skills. This means that I can collect all kinds of evidence of learning:
- paper products
- quotes from students
All these ways of showing what they have learned are equally valid (in the Ontario Kindergarten Program, they call it saying, doing, representing). I will collect different pieces of evidence for each child depending on their individual learning needs.
It is crucial to get to know your students. To properly document their learning, you will need to ensure that you understand their skills and knowledge. I know this isn’t easy. It can take a while to get into the groove of it, but once you get to know your students, it will pay off!
How to Document
I’ve seen many different ways to document, and it just depends on your comfort level. Of course, you can use paper and pencil to document. But you have to be really organized to do it this way and have a great system in place.
I prefer to do it electronically with OneNote. But, I’ve also seen educators that use Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Keep, Brightspace. There are so many different options. Try a few out and see which platform works best for you.
I use an electronic format because it allows me to take pictures of student learning, and I can also use the speech-to-text functionality to document quickly. This way also allows me to share my documentation with my teaching partner.
You can also provide opportunities for your students to document their own learning. I’ve used Brightspace for that in the past!
Using Kindergarten Documentation
Now that you’ve collected evidence of your student’s learning, what do you do with it all?
Provide your students with their next steps in learning, giving them individual learning goals so that they know what to work on. This helps them direct their own learning and gives them something to work towards.
In Ontario, teachers write Communications of Learning. If collected and organized properly, your documentation will make report card writing a breeze! It will show where the student started, their growth and their next steps. This will be perfect when writing out comments.
What are your questions or wonderings about documentation in kindergarten? Let me know in the comments, and I will answer!