Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Volume 29, Issue 1 January 2008 , pages 70 - 80
Observation and documentation are integral to the early childhood classroom. Observation provides the information necessary for adults to build meaningful relationships with individual children. Documentation panels including photographs, teacher's notes, transcriptions, and artifacts, artfully and prominently displayed, serve as a visual archive of children's learning (Helm, Beneke, & Steinheimer, 1998).
Carefully designed panels provide an array of authentic assessment artifacts of children's exploration, while also providing a vehicle for preservice teachers to showcase their understanding of the teaching-learning process. As candidates capture and collect significant moments of learning and reflect on data collected, they develop the practice-teaching inquiry. Inquiry prepares teacher candidates to recognize the value of revisiting previous thinking to help them see relationships between teaching and learning. It is a reflective, intellectually challenging process that is the essence of teacher self-reflection (Hong & Forman, 2000).
The Making Learning Visible project described in this article provides opportunities for teacher candidates to observe children at work and play; formulate questions about what they have seen; advance opinions about meaning; analyze issues; confront biases; and develop ideas for future practice. The project may be used as one of the eight assessment tools required in the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education/National Association for the Education of Young Children (NCATE/NAEYC) program accreditation process.