Monday, May 04, 2009

New Dimension of Learning

I have had conversations with Myra Barrs in London in March, and email discussions with Mary Barr, both founders of the Learning Record for K-12 students, about a new, optional dimension of learning:

Creativity, originality, imagination. As learners gain confidence and independence, knowledge and understanding, skills and strategies, ability to use prior and emerging experience in new situations, and reflectiveness, they generally become more playful and experimental, more creative in the expression of that learning. This is true not only in "creative" domains such as the arts, but in nearly all domains: research, argumentation, history, psychology. In all fields the primary contributions to the field are the result of creative or imaginative work. This optional dimension may be adopted by teachers or schools to make explicit the value of creativity, originality, and imagination in students' development and achievement. Among other things, it recognizes the value of creative experimentation even when the final result of the work may not succeed as the student may hope.

Please note that this is an optional dimension, to be adopted as you wish. I would love to hear the results of your use of it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

IITAP 2007 Award!

I'm delighted to announce that the Learning Record has received the silver award in the University of Texas IITAP 2007 Resource Development category! This was completely unexpected, because the Learning Record has been so simplified technologically that it is not very showy. In his talk before the awards were announced, one of the judges for the competition, Victor Edmonds, Director of Educational Technology Services at UC Berkeley, singled out the Learning Record and praised its simplicity. This showed how carefully the judges had considered each entry, and made it clear that they had really grasped the implications of the Learning Record and its underlying model. The variety and sophistication of the entries in this competition was terrific to see. It is gratifying to be a part of an institution that takes teaching and learning with technology so seriously and supports it so well. For a look at the winners, check here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A teacher's plea

Please read the April 8, 2007 Washington Post article "Classroom Caste System," by David Keyes, a second-grade teacher who has taught in schools with mostly wealthy students and in schools with low-income, mostly minority students. It provides a clear argument from someone who is on the front lines of the administration's punishing effects on teaching and learning.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Two tips for teachers

Here are two handy tips for teachers using the Learning Record:

Tip 1: In Word you can choose Navigation Pane from the View menu. This provides a handy navigation menu to the left that allows readers to jump directly from one part of the LR to another. Simply click on one of the items in the navigation menu to jump to that point. The navigation pane can be resized to make it wider or narrower. The triangles allow you to collapse or expand sections of the menu.

Tip 2: I've found it helpful to create a visual reminder of where I am in the process of responding to Learning Records. I use Apple's file label colors to do this. You will find these in the File menu when you have a file or folder selected. The students' LR folders, once I have received them and put them into the class folder have no label. When I have read one, I make its file label red. When I have emailed the teacher comments to the student, I turn the file label blue.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

New forms and information posted

There are several additions to the Learning Record web site: On the downloads page we have posted all official Learning Record forms for grades K-6, 6-12, and college courses. We have also posted the files for grade level expectations for K-12 students. These chart where on the developmental scales we expect students to fall at each grade level.

The grades K-6 and 6-12 Learning Record files are provided in multiple formats. The .doc and .rtf files are intended for those using computers to complete the forms. They include copies of the scales and scale descriptors. There are also print versions of the K-6 and 6-12 Learning Record forms for those completing them by hand.

We suggest that beginning about grade 4, students begin contributing to the Learning Record, gradually taking over more and more of the responsibility for their own record. By high school the student should be expected to take full responsibility for the Learning Record, with teachers responding as needed. Where teachers in middle school or junior high schools have multiple classes we recommend they use the secondary (6-12) version of the Learning Record.

Some high school classes may lend themselves to the college-level Learning Record, so high school teachers may want to familiarize themselves with it. Be sure to read the teacher's manual, which describes how to transfer Learning Record files and teacher comments between the student and the teacher.

Moderation instructions may be useful for teachers at any level. The basic principles described can be adapted for particular situations. The moderation process provides a "reality check" for the evaluations provided by teachers and students.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Peg Syverson

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Moderation instructions, K-12 Learning Record

Three news items about the Learning Record.
I posted instructions for moderation readings on the web site at

I've also been working steadily on the K-12 version of the new Learning Record. I've posted the elementary level Learning Record at the weg site. You can download it from the Learning Record downloads page,

Finally, I have started a Google group for anyone interested in the Learning Record. It will provide an email discussion list that you may choose to receive as emails or to read on the web, a place to upload documents (such as school site reports or other information), and a membership list so that members may contact each other. For the time being, I am going to set it so that only members may post to the email discussion list, but anyone may request an invitation for membership privileges. This reduces spam. The URL for the Google group is:

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Roses, grasses, chicks, and children

In all of nature it is obvious that the developmental process is both structured and diverse. It is structured in the sense that all healthy chicks seem to develop along the same path, from embryo to full grown adult. Yet even in the same brood, chicks do not all hatch at the same time. Grasses grow and set seeds higher or lower, depending on rainfall. In the flower garden, roses, even from the same rose bush, do not set buds and flower all at the same time, much less across the garden, where there are flowers that bloom in April, May, June, July; where there are some that bloom in the early morning, while some do not open until the afternoon sun. Yet, a daisy unfolds as a daisy, a tulip as a tulip, reliably and predictably, provided there is not some hindrance: poor soil, lack of water, blight or pests. Each thing unfolds in its own time, in its own perfection, in accord with the life circumstances it encounters. (...more)