Harvard Graduate School of Education | Project Zero

Making Learning Visible

What's New On Making Learning Visible?


Making Learning Visible online course: This course will examine group learning through the Making Learning Visible (MLV) framework. MLV began as a collaborative research project between Harvard’s Project Zero and educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy, to explore the group as a powerful aspect of the learning environment. Over the past decade, MLV has worked with hundreds of teachers throughout the U.S. to promote the development of learning groups. You’ll learn about the MLV framework and how to apply it in your own setting to benefit students, teachers, and your school community as a whole.


Children Are Citizens: This project is grounded in the belief that children are not just future or hypothetical citizens—rather, they are citizens of the city in the here and now, with the right to express their opinions and participate in the civic and cultural life of Washington, DC.



Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Schools
Krechevsky, Mardell, Rivard, and Wilson (2013)

I. What is Making Learning Visible?

No matter where, what, or whom one teaches, creating a learning community is essential to promoting student learning. In order to live and work together effectively, we need to be able to listen to one another, to work together to identify and solve problems, and to acknowledge and respect diverse points of view. The Making Learning Visible (MLV) Project explores the power of the group as a learning environment and documentation as a way to deepen and extend learning. MLV is based on a collaboration between PZ researchers and preschool educators from Reggio Emilia, Italy. The ultimate goal of MLV is to create and sustain powerful communities of learning in and across classrooms and schools, in particular through the use of documentation as a way to enhance learning. Over the past decade, the MLV team has worked with hundreds of teachers throughout the U.S. to promote the development of learning groups. We invite you to explore the links below to key publications and resources, current and past projects, and examples of documentation from different educational contexts.


II. Key Making Learning Visible Resources

If you are interested in learning more about MLV’s current initiative, Children Are Citizens: Children and Teachers Collaborating across Washington, DC, please click here for more information.

Making Learning Visible Resources

  • Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-inspired Approaches in All Schools (Krechevsky, Mardell, Rivard, & Wilson, 2013)
  • MLV Online Course: A new 13-week online course designed and taught by Krechevsky about Making Learning Visible ideas and practices around group learning and documentation offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Course will be launched on Feb. 23, June 1, and September 28, 2015.
  • The Wheelock Documentation StudioThe Wheelock Documentation Studio is a space for educators to learn about, develop, and exhibit documentation from a variety of learning contexts.
  • The Boston Public Schools Early Childhood Making Learning Visible WeeblyThis site includes videos, documentation examples, and other resources related to MLV practices in early childhood classrooms.
  • "Documentation: Transforming our Perspectives" a 16-minute documentary by Rivard which includes a conversation with leaders from Reggio about the practice of documentation and its role in teaching and learning.
  • Why Don't You Tell the Other Kids?: A short essay by Krechevsky about how Reggio Emilia ideas influenced her parenting See other tools for engaging families in this work on pp.151-162 in the Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Practices in All Schools book.
  • Reggio Children: International Center for the Defense and Promotion of the Rights and Potentials of All Children – is a mixed public-private company established in 1994 on the initiative of Loris Malaguzzi and a group of local citizens. Reggio Children’s mission is to carry out experimental research and to promote and disseminate high quality education worldwide. Reggio Children also manages the educational and cultural exchange initiatives between the municipal early childhood institutions of Reggio Emilia and educators and researchers from around the world.

Children Are Citizens Resources

  • "The City of Reggio: Boys": A 9-minute narrated powerpoint that shares the story of a small group of boys in Reggio Emilia creating a map of their city. The story can be shared this with staff or family to introduce them to the work, perhaps followed by a "see-think-wonder." (Click "The City of Reggio: Girls" for the story of a small group of girls creating a map of the city.)
  • Places to Play in Providence: A Guide to the City by our Youngest Citizens: Guide that resulted from a collaboration between the Making Learning Visible team at PZ and a school-readiness initiative, Ready to Learn Providence (R2LP). The publication was created by preschool children and teachers from eight inner city programs and programs and features children's illustrations and descriptions of their favorite places to play in the Rhode Island capital.
  • "Engaging City Hall: Children are Citizens": Article by Krechevsky, Mardell, & Romans putting forth a view of young children as citizens.
  • "Learning is a Team Sport: Kindergartners Study the Boston Marathon" Ben Mardell's 32-minute documentary about teachers' and kindergarten students' learning while engaged in an MLV-inspired study of the Boston Marathon; the video shares the strategies used by teachers and what children learned along the way.
  • Boston Early Civics Curriculum: Blog describing curriculum developed by Mardell and others in the Boston Public School kindergartens that recognizes children are citizens. Examples from BPS K2: Kindergartners' ideas for making Boston a fairer and more interesting place for children.
  • The Color Investigation: 10 short videos by Melissa Rivard that track the development from start to finish of a Boston Public School preschool class's investigation into color, accompanied by a Teacher Study Guide. Also on this site is a 5-minute video of two kindergarten classrooms who participated in a Making Learning Visible course in which children created "how-to" books that were ultimately displayed at the Boston Children's Museum.
  • Children as Citizens: 2-minute video of Mardell and Krechevsky discussing documentation and young children as citizens.

III. Additional Publications

Making Learning Visible: Children as Individual and Group Learners Project Zero and Reggio Children (2001)


This book reports on a collaboration between Project Zero and the Municipal Preschools and Infant-toddler Centers of Reggio Emilia, Italy, on the nature of learning in groups and how to understand, support, document, and assess individual and group learning. The authors argue that systematic and purposeful documentation of the ways in which groups develop ideas, theories, and understandings is fundamental to the meta-cognitive activity that is critical to the learning of individuals as well as groups.

Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Schools Krechevsky, Mardell, Rivard, and Wilson (2013)

A progressive, research-based approach for making learning visible Based on the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, Visible Learners offers a new way to enhance learning using progressive, research-based practices for increasing collaboration and critical thinking in and outside the classroom. Visible classrooms are committed to five key principles: that learning is purposeful, social, emotional, empowering, and representational. The authors demonstrate these principles in six rich learning portraits, a variety of strategies for supporting group learning—in particular, through documentation, and 25 tools for classroom use.

Selected Articles

Selected Videos

IV. Other Making Learning Visible Resources and Tools 

Click on the blue headings below for MLV resources and tools that support learning in groups and documentation.

Supporting Learning in Groups in the Classroom
  • Creating a Community of Learners in your Classroom
  • Definition and Features of Group Learning
  • Looking at Learning Groups: Visual Essay and Classroom Discussion Guidelines
  • Group Learning Features in Practice
  • Helping Students Give and Receive Feedback
  • Graphic Organizer for Transforming Your Bulletin Board
  • The Ladder of Feedback Guide for Classroom Observation & Summary
Supporting Learning in Groups in the Staffroom
  • Sharing Documentation with Colleagues
  • Making Learning Visible Cycle of Inquiry
  • Protocols for Looking at Documentation
Documenting Individual and Group Learning
  • Documentation and Display: What’s the Difference
  • Documentation: Definition and Features
  • Documentation: Features in Practice
  • Documentation: When Does It Make Learning Visible?
  • Me-You-Space-Time (MYST) (a routine to help teachers prepare and reflect on making thinking visible)
  • Making Students’ Words Visible: Speech Bubbles
  • Guidelines for Shooting Better Video
  • Guidelines for Shooting Stronger Photographs
Engaging Families in Supporting Student Learning
  • “Robot Project Revisited: One Parent’s Reflection”
  • “Why Don’t You Tell the Other Kids?” Parent Reflection
  • Refrigerator Reminder: Five Ways to Make Learning Visible at Home
  • Making Learning Visible Family Survey
  • Another Way to Think about Bulletin Boards
  • Posting Work Reflection
Making Learning Visible Beyond the Classroom
  • A Making Learning Visible Menu for Going Public with Documentation
  • Anatomy of a Documentation Panel
  • Creating an Exhibition of Teaching and Learning
  • Sketching an Exhibition
  • Sample Questions for Viewers at an Exhibition
  • Sample Exhibition Brochure
  • Zoom Panel Guidelines and Template
  • Some Core Graphic Design Principles

V. Documentation Examples

Documentation serves different purposes during different stages of learning. The criteria for what counts as quality documentation depend on the context. What seems to remain constant is that quality documentation focuses on some aspect of learning—not just "what we did." It prompts questions and promotes conversations among children and adults that deepen and extend learning.

The links below provide examples of documentation created for three different purposes:

  • to aid teachers' own reflections
  • to share back with learners
  • to be shared more widely

These examples are not intended to serve as models of documentation. Rather, they provide a sense for the wide variety of forms documentation can take. The examples range from visual essays created by experienced documenters in Reggio Emilia to educators in the U.S. who are just beginning to document in their classrooms and schools. The examples are listed in order of youngest to oldest age group represented.

Examples of documentation to aid teachers' own reflections 

Documentation collected for this purpose helps teachers stay close to students' learning and interests by enabling them to revisit a learning experience. It leads teachers to compare what they thought would happen to what really went on and informs decisions about where to go next. Sharing this kind of documentation with others reduces the subjectivity of a single person's analysis and interpretation and can deepen understanding. This form of documentation is the least shaped (or the most "raw") of the three types described here. Reviewing this type of documentation often influences the amount of time a group spends on a topic and the level of student involvement in shaping the learning experience.

Examples of documentation shared back with learners

Making visible images of learning and being together in a group is a way to foster group identity and learning. This type of documentation promotes conversation or deepens understanding about one or more aspects of a learning experience. It can serve as a memory of learning in the classroom, allowing children and adults to reflect on, evaluate, and build on their previous work and ideas. Sharing documentation back with learners can take many forms: a photocopied sheet of paper, words repeated back to students, work brought back to a small group or put up on a wall, or a carefully arranged panel. The examples in this section range from more immediate and "in the moment" to more fully framed and shaped.

Examples of documentation that is shared more widely

Documentation is an act of communication; it makes public a conversation about what we value. When preparing documentation to stand on its own, documenters need to provide enough context and framing so that others can derive meaning from it. Depending on the purposes and setting for the documentation, the context could include logistical information, such as key names, dates, and age group represented, as well as the purpose of the learning experience.

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