The following is a “snapshot” report of a 2014 Melbourne visit to the REAIE Documentation Centre and Bialik College. The objective of the visit was to conduct further research into the purpose, look and feel of a CESA “Documentation Centre”.

For documentation to be useful teachers and learners must actually do something with it. Teachers use documentation to deepen learning.Visible Learners 2013

CESA Documentation Centre: Project #5:

Develop a physical space in the Catholic Education Office proposed name: CESA Centre for Narration & Negotiation

 Why narration and negotiation?

Discussions with Jan Milikan led to the following provocations:

  • the need to research –  is this name is appropriate?
  • does the name lend itself to being more about storytelling than reflection?
  • will the name lend itself to being a passive visiting space rather than stimulating the audience to researching and thinking?

On reflection and considerable discussion the consensus was to consider a new name for the space.  Subsequent name suggestions included:

  • Centre for Reimagining Childhood 0-18: researching, thinking, reflecting
  • Centre for Reimagining Childhood 0-18 Dialogue
  • Centre for Visible Learning

Purpose of Documentation

The focus of the Documentation for the centre at CESA will be public documentation. Public documentation should not specify the names, ages, year level of the students. Rather than showcasing the final product it should represent the memory and final analysis of the project. It is not about each individual students learning but the whole groups learning and must include what the teacher, as researcher, has learnt through the project. The public documentation should create a dialogue with parents, visitors and the public.

Physical Space

The strength of the Biliak experience is the rich collection of public documentation installations which are found scattered throughout the walls, floors, ceiling and grounds of the centre. There is a sense of great memories as well as historical documentation. The archival of physical documentation (journals, magazine etc) are also housed in a dedicated room.

Our reflection on how CESAs spaces could be utilised for display of documentation led us to believe there could be two forms:

  • a space for professional learning
  • smaller more visible installation ‘stations’ throughout the CEO.

Factors to consider for installations:

  • The documentation should offer viewers something to think about.
  • Each set of documentation could have a guide, ie questions and provocations, to help the viewer engage with the documentation.
  • What interest you? What surprises you? What are the attributes of the children in the documentation? What are the children competent at? What does it tell you about the teacher?
  • How do we capture the viewers thinking and feedback?Could we have a corner for viewers to explore various media to represent their thoughts? Could we have a large space for viewers to add their thoughts/ thinking (like a big canvas)?

The professional learning space would require the following physical attributes:

  • bookcases
  • table and chairs
  • bench space,
  • wall / hanging space,
  • sufficient lighting
  • multiple power points for electronic displays wifi access The smaller installations throughout the CEO would give greater visibility to the idea of memories and could focus the viewer on a particular type of documentation or learning.

The smaller installations would require:

  • Display cases
  • Wall space
  • Focused lighting

(Documentation) Requires learners to reflect, synthesis and shape communication for a target audience….
Visible Learners 2013

The phase one research schools will have the opportunity to provide the first instalment of documentation for the CEO.  The suggestion is to  provide some guidelines to the schools around what is required for a public installation.

  • A purpose, i.e. professional learning
  • No name, age, year level identification
  • Reflections of the researcher (both teachers and students)
  • Artefacts
  • Questions / provocations for the public

The research schools public documentation could be a summary based on the examples given in the resource Browsing through ideas which includes presentation ideas such as:

  • A3 poster
  • Print booklets
  • Text and images
  • Sculpture / physical materials
  • Digital formats


Browsing through ideas  (Filippini & Vecch: Reggio Children Publications 2009)

Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Schools:  (Krechevsky; Mardell; Rivard & Wilson: Wiley 2013)

Project zero: Visible thinking  (Harvard Graduate School of Education)


Using the Comments option below, please share your reflections on how your documentation is developing?

One comment
  1. When documenting children’s learning I write pages and pages about what I see children doing, saying and attempt to capture the interactions with others. Afterwards I go back over the documentation and try to ‘extract the person’, their theories and competencies.

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