Documenting Learning in New Zealand

Educators in New Zealand have a number of qualitative ways to document student learning, from infants onward, including “Learning Stories” and more.

Examples of Documenting Learning

Anecdotal evidence, gathered from observations, evidence from formative assessment tasks, student or parent voice – all are valid ways of identifying areas where students may need modified instruction.

Gathering evidence about student achievement serves two roles in a teaching inquiry. It helps to identify who the students are, what their learning needs are and which modifications to teaching and learning approaches might work best, against which you can monitor and measure the actual impact on different students, and adjust and adapt practice accordingly. 


Risk in Play and Learning: Ubud-Höör Declaration

Risk-taking is Essential for Children’s Well-being  This declaration cites research from around the world on the benefits of risk-taking for children. While promoting risk-taking on school grounds may raise questions of liability for schools and concerns for parents it is essential for the development of healthy young people, according to …

Nurturing Students with Special Needs in Nature

What is a reading forest and how might it benefit children with disabilities? Read all about it in this article from the Guardian: “Our children with SEN benefit from how the outdoors relieves stress and anxiety, develops social skills, motivates learning across the curriculum (and beyond) and allows them to …

Urban Schools and Outdoor Learning

Great article from The Guardian on Five easy ways urban schools can experiment with outdoor learning. Just go outside – ask, can we do this outside? Small is okay – even a small outdoor space can have container gardens, bucket ponds, logs or bug houses. Bring nature indoors – plant seeds, catch …

Rock that Recess…

I sit at my desk and hear the crowds of children on the playground at our neighborhood school – where does all that exuberant noise come from? And where does it go by the time we become adults?  Jill Valet over at Edutopia explores the proven benefits of recess, including improved …

John Cleese on Creativity as Mood, not Aptitude

I am a huge fan of Open Culture for their daily inspiration of open source books, videos and more. Recently, they posted this on John Cleese of Monty Python fame and his views on creativity: Drawing on research from his friend Brian Bates, a psychologist as Sussex University, Cleese claims …

The impact of “I love to watch you play!”

A recent blog post by Rachel Macy Stafford on Huffington Post turned me on to this simple but powerful sentence:

I love to watch you play.

Reporting on another article about 30 years of research about parents of college athletes, Rachel Macy Stafford states,

“… college athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response: ‘I love to watch you play.’

The life-changing sentence came at the beginning of an article entitled, “What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent and What Makes a Great One,” which described powerful insights gathered over three decades by Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC. Although I finished reading the entire piece, my eyes went back and searched for that one particular sentence — the one that said, “I love to watch you play.”

The phrase does not judge children’s performance. It does not go into evaluative detail.  It does not offer advice.  It simply lets them know you are glad to be part of their lives as they are living them.  It can apply to all kinds of situations:

I love to hear you sing.
I love to listen to you read.
I love to watch you build with Legos.
I love to see you help your grandmother.
I love to watch you jump.
I love to watch you sleep.


By the way, the remainder of “What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent and What Makes a Great One,” is worth a read, as it goes into brief detail on five signs of a nightmare sports parent and five signs of an ideal sports parent…


  • Overemphasizing sports at the expense of sportsmanship
  • Having different goals than your child
  • Treating your child differently after a loss than a win
  • Undermining the coach
  • Living your own athletic dream through your child


Let’s hear it for the parents who do it right. In many respects, Brown and Miller say, it’s easier to be an ideal sports parent than a nightmare. “It takes less effort,” Miller says. “Sit back and enjoy.” Here’s what to do:

  • Cheer everybody on the team, not just your child
  • Model appropriate behavior
  • Know what is suitable to discuss with the coach
  • Know your role
  • Be a good listener and a great encourager




VoiceThread Redux

I think I mentioned VoiceThread before – the marvelous web site that lets you present a slide show and record comments, captions & doodles. The other innovation of VoiceThread is you can invite others to comment as well, creating a visually guided dialog about… well, anything. One of my favorites: …

Biology of Plants

Biology of Plants provides students with a clear, accurate introduction to plants as living things, plant growth, plant parts, making food, pollination, seed dispersal and adaptations.