Documentation Studio: Inspiration and Key Ideas
The origins of the Documentation Studio can be traced back to an early phase of the Making Learning Visible (MLV) Project—a research project at Project Zero (PZ) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that began as a collaboration between PZ researchers and educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
MLV has sought to understand and help translate Reggio's approach to group learning and use of documentation to support learning to the U.S. context and across all ages of learners.
Stephanie, along with Wheelock colleague Bobbi Rosenquest and Lisa Fiore of Lesley University, comprised the teacher educator component of the project, exploring ways to incorporate group learning and documentation in their own teaching in the post-secondary setting while introducing pre-service teachers to these practices.
Making Learning Visible Project
The Making Learning Visible Project began as a collaboration between researchers at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and educators in the municipal schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. They sought to bring together Project Zero's experience of creating authentic and ongoing assessments and Reggio's experience documenting the individual and group learning of young children.
The first phase of this project was geared toward better understanding the practices in Reggio Emilia's municipal schools and the ways they supported learning. Two key practices came to the fore—learning in groups and documenting learning through a variety of media to support learning. These became the two foci of the Making Learning Visible (MLV) Project, which worked in subsequent phases to support these practices in U.S. classrooms preschool thru high school.
Teachers who have participated in the MLV Project are collaborating with the Documentation Studio in a number of ways: they share documentation they are working on, exhibit their work, and share perspectives on the work of others.
Learning from Reggio Emilia
Reggio Emilia is a town in Northern Italy. Since the late 60s, educators in the city have worked to establish a system of what is now 34 municipal preschools and infant-toddler centers that serve children from three-months to six-years of age.
Teachers in Reggio schools see themselves as researchers, continually exploring and contributing to our knowledge about: who children are and how they learn; the role of the teacher; and the role of school in society. If you go into any classroom in Reggio, you will see teachers (and even children) taking photographs, videotaping, taking notes, and collecting other records of children's work and activities. Through this careful documentation of both the products and processes of learning, these schools in Reggio have come to the attention of the world and are considered by many to be the premier model of early childhood education. Many educators from around the world visit the schools, since Reggio Children and the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre offer study tours and conferences.
At the Documentation Studio, we seek to learn (and help others to learn) more about some key practices that help to make the Reggio schools so extraordinary—namely, the use of documentation to support individual and group learning (for learners of all ages). In Reggio, documentation is used as a mechanism for collaboration among colleagues, as a way for both children and adults to look back on and reflect on their learning, and to communicate learning to others (colleagues, parents, and the wider community).