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Making learning visible

He kokonga whare e kitea, he kokonga ngākau e kore e kitea.

The corners of a house are visible; the corners of the heart are invisible.

Recognising when learning is taking place and making this visible is another of the foundations on which inclusive practice is built.1 There are many ways of sharing information about progress and achievement to make learning visible to the student, to you as the teacher, to whānau, and to other team members.

For some students with additional learning needs, such as those learning at a very different level to their peers, there is a risk of focusing only on their presence or participation at school and not paying enough attention to what they are learning. Learning must be visible for every student, regardless of how much additional support they require. A small group of students in New Zealand schools have health needs that need to be met to keep them safe at school (e.g., daily medications). Other students need support for their self-care. While meeting a student’s needs for health and care at school is important, this must not become the sole focus for that student’s education. All students must be recognised as learners within The New Zealand Curriculum, in which health and care needs are seen as additional to learning needs.

Assessment and making learning visible

Inclusive schools confidently use assessment as an ongoing process for making the learning of all students visible.

Approaches for making learning visible

A variety of assessment approaches and activities should be used to make the learning of all students visible to themselves and all those in their network of support.

Discussions and observations

Making learning visible starts with you, the teacher, regarding all students as learners and asking “What is each student in my class learning day by day?” and “How do they learn best?” 

Tasks and artefacts

Along with everyday discussions and observations, you and your students will often use discrete tasks and artefacts to gain a picture of their progress and achievement. 

National tools

National assessment tools will inform your professional judgments about your students’ progress and achievement at specific points in the school year. 

[1]It is important to remember that you cannot understand or capture all learning that takes place, only that which you can observe from your students’ behaviours, your conversations with them, and the artefacts they produce.

Published on: 31 May 2016