Engaging Families Through Storytelling: The Journey of Discovery
In 2014, a search began for an approach to assessment that children, families, and teachers would find meaningful and engaging. This led us to New Zealand’s Learning Stories approach, which document learning in a story telling way. This approach was a light house that guided us to research and a pilot research project with Dr. Annie White, where we implemented Learning Stories into our context. The prototype model, known as the Journey of Discovery (J.O.D.) became our approach to assessment after uncovering invaluable benefits for children, families, and teachers. Through the implementation of the Journey of Discoveries, we were able to make children’s learning visible in a way that fostered parent/family and teacher collaboration, created connection, built stronger relationships, and formed a value of shared understanding. Today, our practice with the Journey of Discoveries has expanded beyond teachers writing to children. Families regularly write to their children as well, teachers and site supervisors write to the family and to each other, and they are used as part of mentoring and coaching feedback.
Inviting Engagement with the Journey of Discoveries:
Families are invited to engage with the Journey of Discoveries through displays around the classrooms, hard copy portfolios available in the classrooms, and through an e-portfolio platform ‘ChildFolio Families’ for our EHS center-based programs. With remote learning taking place, teachers continue to write to children and families, but have adapted to document the new things they are doing with families and to share them digitally.
Here, we will look at a story Sarah’s teacher wrote to her after a weekly Zoom time together making breakfast burritos with Sarah and her mom.
This morning was fun. Your mom and I made burritos. I got done way before her because she was super busy with your dog Buck and helping you. But we did cook burritos together for a little bit. She held you while she was cooking! Mommy is quite the multi-tasker. You were watching her cook and you would stare at the food. I think you really wanted to eat some but you have to wait just a while longer until you are a little bit older. You loved watching mommy cook. You saw me in the iPad camera and you smiled so big. I love you and miss you Sarah!
What learning was happening?
Sarah you are so interested in what your mom is doing. You watch her every move and you are fixated on what she is doing at every moment. You are showing that you have the capacity to pay attention to people, things, or the environment, when interacting with others or exploring play materials. This will help you in the future to maintain attention on your own briefly without adult support.
Opportunities and Possibilities
Teacher Julie will continue to support you by singing songs through video chat, such as pat-a-cake, continue to have zoom meetings with you and your peers in the classroom.
Get to Know Teacher Julie
Hi my name is Julie Hessom and I am an Infant Care Teacher at Silver Springs Early Head Start Center. I have been with Head Start originally since 2006. I first started out as a volunteering parent when my youngest son (now 19) was in pre-school at Head Start in Colorado. Eventually I moved to California and started working for KidZCommunity in 2008. I had taken a break to go back to school in order to earn my units from college to be back at Head Start. I’ve been back with them full time since 2015. I didn’t know that I would come to fall in love with this line of work until I really made connections with children and their families. I absolutely cherish each bond and partnership with my children and families. I am so grateful that we are able to connect during this time with the Covid crisis through technology. As for my own family, we bond through just hanging out, and fishing. I personally love to go camping and fishing and being in nature. It has been such a blessing for me to work with children and families.