Pedagogical Documentation with iPads to Support Inquiry in the Junior Grades

Area(s) of Focus: technology
Division(s): Junior
Level(s): Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6

Using technology to document student learning and thinking in the junior grades.

  •  Following the model outlined in the Ministry Capacity Building Series on Pedagogical Documentation, we will apply pedagogical documentation in our junior level classrooms
  • As the monograph recommends, we will use a collaborative inquiry approach as a junior level team to choose a focus for our documentation and choose our approach for inquiry in our classrooms
  • Students will build their 21st-century skills, effectively integrating technology into their inquiries

Team Members

  • Erica Armstrong

    Peel District School Board

  • Sapna Gandhi

    Peel District School Board

  • Tanya Hind

    Peel District School Board

  • Lisa Cation

    Peel District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

  • Explored existing best practices for pedagogical documentation and transferred that knowledge to our context in the junior grades
  • Explored various digital tools for pedagogical documentation, piloting two different tools and ultimately deciding to focus on the one that best fitted our needs
  • Developed strategies for implementing and documenting inquiry, with a focus on empowering student choice and voice, as well as developing 21st-century skills in our students
  • Created a resource for suggested strategies and tools (iPad apps, etc.) to best support pedagogical documentation in a junior context




Activities and Resources

First half-day release

Second half-day release

  • Debrief, assess and reflect on our progress so far
  • Co-plan next steps
  • Now that we had some experience trying pedagogical documentation in our classes, we explored a new tool with the lens of our specific needs; however, we decided it did not suit us and narrowed our focus to the one digital tool we found was best-suited to our needs and goals

Third release, full-day

  • Debrief, assess and reflect
  • Co-plan and create a resource to share with colleagues that is useful for presentations, staff meetings, Lunch and Learns, etc.  
  • We re-read the ministry documents that guided our initial planning, which helped us recognize the areas in which we had grown very comfortable and areas in which we’d like to continue to grow

Unexpected Challenges

We certainly had some initial periods of trial and error in testing out various tools; however, we were able to “fail fast” and quickly discard options that did not suit our goals in favour of sticking with options that did. Ultimately, we’re happier to find strategies and tools that work rather than being perfectionists in search of the “perfect” strategies and tools. Any of this that might be seen as a challenge was ultimately helpful in reaching our goals and not a complete waste of energy.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

  • If we as teachers become more proficient at using pedagogical documentation, then students will benefit from increased opportunities for rich technology-embedded inquiry that empowers student voice and choice
  • Through their inquiries, students will have opportunities to grow in 21st-century skills such as using technology to support collaboration, critical-thinking, communication, creativity, citizenship and character
  • Students will be supported in engaging with their strengths and interests, creating a differentiated classroom environment that embraces universal design for learning because their teachers will be more equipped to effectively and efficiently assess a wider range of student-centred activities




  • Creation of a website to share resources and reflections:
    • This site will aid us in sharing with our colleagues (inside and outside our school) through staff meetings, professional learning days, presentations or social media
  • We have also been sharing with colleagues inside our school through “The Pineapple Project,” whereby teachers invite other colleagues into their rooms to see interesting practices in action, ask questions, observe, etc. There is no formal presentation – it is more hands-on and interactive. We have found this form of professional sharing to be low-risk, engaging and productive.

Project Evaluation

Our project was some of the most valuable learning we have ever done. We appreciated being fully in charge of our own learning – a fact that is not lost on us when we reflect upon the type of meaningful learning opportunities our students desire!

Reflecting back on our initial goals for our project, we have met many of them. We have become so comfortable and proficient at using the technology that makes pedagogical documentation possible that it is now second nature.

We have all become more aware of differentiating assessment, especially capturing observations and conversations as part of a culture of learning. The process of learning, which is not as easy to capture with more traditional tools, has become as easy to “see” as the products.

We have been surprised by successes in the area of parent engagement. Parents enjoy being a part of the conversations around what their children are learning. Integrating new and innovative projects or styles of learning has been more embraced by parents because they can see their children’s excitement through photos and videos of the learning journey.

We are all also excited to continue to support one another as a team and continue to grow together to deepen the opportunity of student-centred learning that pedagogical documentation enables. We know this project is not our final step in this journey, but it was an important part of our first steps.

Resources Used

Capacity Building Series: Pedagogical Documentation Revisited

Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Schools

By Mara Krechevsky, Ben Mardell, Melissa Rivard and Daniel Wilson

ISBN: 978-1-118-34569-6