Documentation Notes Organizer

I have attached a pdf version of our school's "Documentation Notes Organizer."  Please note that this page was our adaptation to something that we saw successfully used in London England during a Leadership Study Tour.  It is not the right way to document, but rather it is one way to document.  In fact, it is my personal opinion that this organizer is an entry to documenting play-based learning, social development, and mathematics.  We include this in our students' portfolios.

Please do not replace your pedagogical documentation (documentation of your students' thinking and learning during inquiry-based learning, project-based learning, and problem-based learning) with this organizer.  One image would not nearly be enough to describe the learning story of an entire inquiry, project, or problem.

I hope that this helps and that it is a starting place for you.  Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Thank you for your increased interest in our student portfolios and documentation practices!


Joanne Babalis

Share your thoughts :

  1. I am fortunate to work in a school that truly supports its mandates: environmental stewardship, and technology as tool for 21st century learning. As such we now have use of iPads on our team, and I've gone from weekly anecdotal grids filled out during play or at the end of the week while reviewing photos, to using clever apps to collect, sort, annotate, and arrange data aesthetically. "Explain everything" is one such app that allows me to capture on the fly and work smarter. Digital portfolios are powerful tools for reflection - but I appreciate your framework because it helps me remember to make note of important details, such as the level of adult support.
    Thank you for this!

  2. Hi Laurel,

    You are indeed very fortunate to work at a school with iPads!!

    Although I do agree with your school's mandates about environmental stewardship and technology as a tool for 21st century learning I can't help but continue to cling to my own beliefs and inspirations that are rooted in my visit to Reggio Emilia Italy. I agree that digital portfolios are the way of the future and are also more cost effective. That being said, even with my blog as a 21st century example of documentation, I still believe strongly in the importance of having something that makes visible your learning without the use of a power cord, password, or wifi connectivity. In Italy, pedagogical documentation plays a fundamental role in their everyday learning. Parents and visitors are able to see the learning displayed around the schools at any point in the school day.

    Last year I realized this when I had thousands of photographs and video clips on my laptop and iPad and when someone would come in unless I was right beside them and had the technology handy wasn't able to share the power of our learning stories. Having documentation all around our room and in our documentation portfolios gives our visitors the chance to independently read through what they see visually, without us having to show them. The documentation speaks for itself!

    This doesn't mean I am opposed to digital portfolios, or that I am denying their effectiveness, more-so that I am doing what I feel speaks to my beliefs and represents our learning to anyone who visits our classroom even when I am not at school. In other words this has been an intentional decision in our classroom and school.

    In Patricia Tarr's article "Consider the Walls" she states that "classrooms are public statements about the educational values of the institution and teacher" (p. 2). I've really taken this to heart, and work hard each day to ensure that our documentation makes visible our learning.

    Thank you for your comment and for suggesting the "explain everything" app. I had never heard of that one before! I'm glad this documentation notes organizer helped to refine your documentation practices.

    Again, what I suggest is never the right way, but rather one way that has worked for us and our beliefs.

  3. Hi Jaonne,
    I have begun my classroom reformation today and am loving the new environment. My DECE and I have enlarged centres and flow to allow the students more room to build and create.
    I will beginning student documentation and am very grateful to your sharing some ideas. We have come across the app: pic collage for the iPad and it's a great tool when you have several pictures of an activity - we compose them in a collage frame, add some student thinking, then print (usually in black and white as we are budget constrained). We then have been posting these around the classroom and sending a copy home. These might be great in a documentation folder for each student, with more documentation to the curriculum and adult involvement.
    Thanks again for the tips! Love your blog. Please visit my very new space at

    1. Just wanted to say that I love your blog and left a few comments for you!

  4. Sorry to bother you again Joanne, however I tried the link to download the documentation notes organizer and it says that it is held in private not public domain.
    Can you send me a copy to my school email if not too much trouble?

  5. Hi Kim,

    Thank you for catching that it was saved as a "private" file! That was my mistake! I have uploaded it again and changed the settings to make it public and printable. I'm sorry about that! Can you let me know when it works?

    I am so happy to hear of your reformation! Doesn't the day flow nicely when there are larger spaces for children to interact within?

    Pic Collage a great app and we have tried to use it too! I like how you are printing them out and sharing them with parents.

    Looking forward to visiting your blog!



  6. Thanks Joanne - it works great now.
    I do love technology - however as you have mentionned a couple of times it isn't always the best. I am trying to upload pictures from my school iPad onto my blogspot and am having the darndest time. After finally loading to a Google Space I will be able to upload. Hopefully before bedtime soon I can upload today's activities and a picture of our pet fish!
    Enjoy your night.

    1. Hi Kim,

      Yes technology is wonderful when it works!!

      I have found it much easier to blog on my laptop and to browse other blogs using my iPad. Similar to your experience, I always struggle uploading the pictures...You are much more persistent than I am, as I didn't even use my google drive as an option. Instead I use iCloud on my iPhoto program.

      Have a good night,


  7. Hi Joanne, I attended a FDK course last year in Burlington, to begin the process or starting a new FDK program this year. I took many pictures and I am wondering if you could kindly share some of your documation templates. I would love to have your week at a glance, Kindergarten Long Range Plans, documentation template and your time table. I am really excited about starting a new program and these templates would really help. I enjoy your blog. Sincerely, Christine Shaw

  8. Hi Joanne,

    Thank you so much for posting these resources - they are wonderful! We are implemeting first year FDK and your blog is truly inspiring for us.

    I have tried to open and print this document but have been unsuccessful. Can you please email it to me?


  9. Where do you print your pictures? Do you send the photos to a store to print or do you do that in your classroom? Doesn't it get expensive?

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