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Learning Stories

September 10, 2012

It is not how smart you are but how are you smart.


This week we have been exploring how we can make our portfolios more authentic and meaningful. Rather than having Portfolios look like a factory processing plant that all Portfolios look the same we really wanted to give credit and value to children’s individuality and to their needs as a learner.  So it made sense to include some Learning Stories that could be added to a  Portfolio.

Learning Stories were developed by Dr Margaret Carr from Waikato University, New Zealand.  Many schools have taken them on board and are now used internationally.  The purpose of a Learning Story is to validate and give credit to children’s work and their thinking and can also be used as a form of assessment for planning. It is important to note at this stage that Learning Stories are not the same as case studies or running records about children – they are narratives or stories and they need to be a good tale/story – something worth talking or sharing about.

As Kelly Goodsir writes “Learning Stories are an assessment tool used to describe a child’s learning process and are also a way of documenting that learning.  Using a storytelling format (known as a ‘narrative’) to capture the meaningful elements which influence a child’s learning process, Learning Stories are particularly effective in illustrating how children cope with challenges, resolve conflicts and persist when faced with difficulty”.

The elements which can be described in a Learning Story include the child’s;

-Interests, strengths and achievements

-Skills, knowledge and feelings

-Interactions with peers and adults

-Family, heritage, culture and community.

Following, is a Learning Story example of a child I observed today while watching him at the writing center.

Gun’s Learning Story

Gun approached the writing centre and independently chose to create a train using paper, glue and scissors. He organised the materials that he needed and proceeded to cut his papers into the shapes he wanted. He then glued each shape together to make the shape of a long train. “I made a train!” Gun proudly announced to his teacher.
What it means: Gun has demonstrated his ability to use the paper, scissors and glue appropriately and use his fine motor and organisational skills to create. He had an idea in his mind and was able to recreate his idea in a different context.

Learner Profile

You showed what a thinker you are by using your initiative and exercising your creativity.


You are so creative and imaginative in your approach to your work

Transdisciplinary Skills

What excellent Self Management Skills and Thinking Skills you showed Gun!

We can take this learning story and use it for planning.  We know what Gun’s capabilities and interests are and we can now plan to go further with Gun providing the support and materials he needs to continue to develop and strengthen his skills.

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