Making Learning Visible: Understanding, Documenting, and Supporting Individual and Group Learning
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Most of us are in groups all the time. But are these groups learning groups? When does a group become a learning group? Can a group construct its own way of learning? Can documenting children's learning lead to new ways of learning?

These are some of the questions addressed in the research project, Making Learning Visible (MLV). MLV draws attention to the power of the group as a learning environment and documentation as a way to see and shape how and what children are learning. MLV is based on collaborative research conducted by Project Zero researchers with teachers from the Municipal Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and preschool through high school teachers and teacher educators in Massachusetts.

The overall goal of Making Learning Visible is to create and sustain powerful cultures of learning in and across classrooms and schools that nurture and make visible individual and group learning. Often when people first encounter the MLV work, they describe it as a project about documentation, perhaps because it is the most tangible aspect of the work--something people can see. Then, after spending more time with the ideas, they say it's a project about group learning. But in the end, they say MLV is a project about culture, values, and democracy. Learning in groups not only helps us learn about content, it helps us learn about learning in a way that fits with the kind of people we want to become and the world we want to create. Learning in groups develops critical human capacities for participating in a democratic society--the ability to share our views and listen to those of others, to entertain multiple perspectives, to seek connections, to change our ideas, and to negotiate conflict.

MLV addresses three aspects of learning and teaching:

  • What teachers and students can do to support the creation of learning groups in the classroom.
  • How observation and documentation can shape, extend, and make visible children's and adults' individual and group learning.
  • How teachers, students, and others are creators as well as transmitters of culture and knowledge.

Current Work:

Project Zero is collaborating with five charter, pilot, and district public schools in Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline, as well as the Wickliffe Progressive Community School in Upper Arlington, Ohio on a similar initiative.

Current Project Staff:

Mara Krechevsky, Ben Mardell, Melissa Rivard, and Daniel Wilson.

Funding for this project has been provided by:

Making Learning Visible has been funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Massachusetts Department of Education, an anonymous donor, and the Ohio State Department of Education.

Photographs in logo by Stephanie Cox Suarez, MLV Seminar Member; other photographs by Melissa Rivard, MLV Documentation Specialist

Copyright 2006 Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University.
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