Don’t Just Display: Make Documenting OF/FOR/AS Learning Visible

Donna Miller Fry in a post Where is the Beef? speaks directly to my own thinking when she asks:

When we talk about “Visible Learning” and “Visible Thinking”, can we now focus more on the Thinking and Learning than on the Visible?

I am thrilled that more and more educators are aware of the power of visible thinking in the learning process and even choose to snap an image, record a short video and/or write about the great things that are happening in their schools and their classrooms and then SHARE them via Twitter or their blogs.


I can’t help but being unsatisfied most of the time and am reminded of a quote from the book “Visible Learners by Krechevsky, Mardell, Rivard and Wilson:

Interpreting documentation is essential to the practice of documentation and what it distinguishes it from display. IMG_4081

I would classify most of the “documentation” media I see being shared as a display!  Mostly these images show a group of students “doing something”. It is a display of WHAT WAS DONE.

ipad center

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of these documentation images of my own and they serve different purposes (memory trigger, timeline, moment in time), but to be able to use these media artifacts as something beyond “documentation OF learning”, we need to add value to these images, videos, audio or text artifacts to move to the level of “documentation FOR and AS learning”.

I have finally launched my Langwitches Instagram feed, dedicated to #documenting4learning. I want to make documentation visible at the FOR learning and AS learning level.


Simply by looking at the image or video, you might not see the documentation strategy that elevates the artifact as a strategic element of the learning process.

The annotation of the artifact or the description is what makes the documentation strategy (ex. using slow motion video), tool (ex. Post-It App to capture, organize and share analog artifacts)  or the thinking / learning visible (ex. using speech bubbles to capture a thought).

_documenting4learning2 _documenting4learning3 _documenting4learning1


Be aware of the difference of making thinking and learning visible by placing emphasis on the THINKING and LEARNING part, not just the display of what was done.


I challenge you to contribute to #documenting4learning  on Twitter and Instagram by adding the hashtag #documeningt4learning to your posts, so we can all learn with each other about quality documentation OF and FOR learning!

  1. Look for learning
  2. Capture learning (image, video, text, audio)
  3. Reflect on learning (add annotation, description)
  4. Share learning  ( add #documenting4learning hashtag and post to Twitter or Instagram)

5 thoughts on “Don’t Just Display: Make Documenting OF/FOR/AS Learning Visible”

  1. Hi Silvia;

    This is a fabulous project. I am so concerned that so much of what gets shared is “activities” and not learning.

    In Ontario, we are currently working on this provocation: “What system level structures and strategies are you finding that are supportive in moving from a culture of activities towards a culture of learning, with evidence of children’s thinking and learning as the foundation?”

    Here in Ontario, we promote a 5-stage protocol for pedagogical documentation, to help educators in this work. I would love to share this framework with you, if you are interested in learning more about it. It is based on the work of Dr. Carol Anne Wien, outlined here:

    I will certainly share the #document4learning hashtag with my colleagues here in Ontario.

    Thank you for your continued excellent open work in this area. I was deeply honoured to be mentioned on your blog! I have learned so much from your generous open sharing over many years.

  2. Hi Silvia,

    Your blog has caused me to do some big thinking. I thoroughly enjoy it and know it benefits my learners too. Thank you. I’m heading over to #document4learning to get in on the conversation soon, too.

    I do a lot of documentation through photos and I’m wondering, what app/software did you use to lay text over your photo when you quoted Krechevsky, Mardell, Rivard and Wilson above in this post?

  3. This is so true and was the impetus behind me writing my book entitled Assessment That Matters: Using Technology to Personalize Leaning. Great to have a like minded educator.

Comments are closed.