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  • This article was downloaded by: [Computing & Library Services, University of Huddersfield]On: 05 October 2014, At: 19:23Publisher: Taylor & FrancisInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Journal of Early Childhood Teacher EducationPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ujec20

    Documenting children's learning activities: Advancingprofessional development in early childhood teachereducationDiana Currah a & Margaret H. Cooney ba Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education , University of Wyoming ,Laramie, Wyoming, USA E-mail:b Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education , University of Wyoming ,Laramie, Wyoming, USA E-mail:Published online: 25 Apr 2008.

    To cite this article: Diana Currah & Margaret H. Cooney (2002) Documenting children's learning activities: Advancingprofessional development in early childhood teacher education, Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 23:3, 227-233,DOI: 10.1080/1090102020230306

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1090102020230306

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  • Pergamon

    Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education 23 (2002) 227-233

    Journal of J?arly

    ChildhoodTeacher

    Education

    Documenting children's learning activities:Advancing professional development in early

    childhood teacher education

    Diana Currah*, Margaret H. CooneyDepartment of Elementary and Early Childhood Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA

    Received 20 May 2002; accepted 1 June 2002

    Abstract

    This article describes how our early childhood education undergraduate certificate program incorporatesdocumentation into the course content. We explain our rationale for choosing documentation as an entry point tolearn about the Reggio Emilia approach and how documentation supports our program goals. Then we discussthe process we use to teach the documentation concept including the guidelines and rubrics we developed. Theconclusion section presents a set of provocations that have emerged as we reflect on documentation as a form ofprofessional development. 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

    1. Introduction

    This article describes how our early childhoodeducation undergraduate certificate program incor-porates documentation into the course content. Weexplain our rationale for choosing documentationas an entry point to leam about the Reggio Emiliaapproach and how documentation supports our pro-gram goals. Then we discuss the process we useto teach the documentation concept including theguidelines and rubrics we developed. The conclu-sion section presents a set of provocations that haveemerged as we reflect on documentation as a formof professional development.

    2. Value of documentation

    Documentation was chosen as an entry point toteach our students about the Reggio Emilia approach

    * Corresponding author.E-mail addresses: dcurrah@uwyo.edu (D. Currah),cooney@uwyo.edu (M.H. Cooney).

    because of its fit with the field experience compo-nent of the course and because of its potential forsupporting efforts of reform. Earlier we tried teach-ing the project approach and found that the majorityof the field sites do not organize their curriculumactivities around projects and therefore the studentscould not practice their newly learned approach. Wefound, however, that the mentor teachers are opento students planning two learning activities over thesemester that are based on children's emergent in-terests and that can be documented. Furthermore,we learned that documentation promotes our earlychildhood unit philosophy of promoting a strong im-age of the child. Assignments in our courses allowstudents to learn to see the classroom and the curricu-lum activities from the child's perspective (Cooney,Williams, & Nelson, 1998). This emphasis on thechild's learning experience seems to provide the nec-essary data and motivation for preservice students torethink best practice (Katz & Chard, 1996).

    The documentation component supports pre-service student and mentor teacher professionaldevelopment. Students practice performance-basedassessment when they document learning associated

    1090-1027/02/$ - see front matter 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.PII:S1090-1027(02)00140-X

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  • 228 D. Currah, MM. Cooney/Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education 23 (2002) 227-233

    with their activities. Mentor teachers exposed to thisapproach see another way to deal with the pressure ofthe standards movement. Mentor teachers frequentlyask the student to bring the documentation into theclassroom to share with children and parents. Docu-mentation allows students to demonstrate competencewith various kinds of technology as they engagein meaningful field site activities (Trepanier-Street,Hong, & Bauer, 2001a). Finally, documentation issomething students can do and like to do that ben-efits the entire college class. Each student sharestwo documented learning activities, completed in anearly childhood field site. Since placements may bein classrooms for toddlers through third graders, stu-dents are exposed to a variety of ages and practices.

    3. Process of documentation

    The experience of facilitating and documentingtwo lessons is a formidable challenge for the collegestudents as many have not planned or implementeda lesson for a field site classroom. The constructivistframework challenges preservice teachers to designlearning activities in which small groups of childrenat the practicum site are encouraged to think andexplore. To plan otherwise would perpetuate theever-present behavioral approach to teaching andlearning (Brooks & Brooks, 1999).

    Throughout the semester, students are invited toconstruct understandings of how children think andlearn through play and how teachers incorporate play

    EDEC 3220: School Programs for Young Children

    Rubric for Curriculum Assignment-lesson plan guidelines

    Name of Student:

    Date:

    Directions: Rate the activity from 1-3 using the Likert Scale for how well it meets eachcurriculum guideline.

    1 = disagree2 = undecided3 = agreeGuidelines

    1. The activity allows the child to experience the concepts and to constructunderstandings about the concepts in meaningful ways.

    2. The activity allows for growth in more than one area of development:cognitive, language, social, emotional, physical.

    3. The information presented is accurate and credible according to the recognizedstandards of the relevant discipline(s).

    4.and effectively now.

    The content is worth knowing and can be learned by these children efficiently

    5.meaningful choices.

    The activity encourages active learning and allows children to make

    6. The activity provides opportunity for the children to feel successful,competent, and enjoyment of learning.

    7. The assessment procedure is based on the concepts being introduced orreinforced in the activity.

    8. The assessment procedure occurs as part of the ongoing life of the classroomrather than in an artificial, contrived context.

    Fig. 1.

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  • D. Currah, M.H. Cooney/Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education 23 (2002) 227-233 229

    into early childhood classroom activities. Studentsread and analyze The Girl with the Brown Crayon(Paley, 1998), and a selection of articles to identifyand implement developmentally appropriate curricu-lum practices. The readings are organized around acontent rich curriculum that affirms diversity and isplay oriented.

    Readings provide a framework about play andcurriculu