One of my roles at Storypark is to work with centres and teachers supporting them to get the most out of Storypark. While undertaking this work I have noticed some trends emerging over the use of learning tags so I would like to share with you some suggestions on how to make learning sets and tags work for you, your centre, children and families.

What are learning sets and tags

Learning sets are folders that contain tags and descriptions.

The learning sets area has two types of learning sets:

  1. Public sets that have been created by Storypark and centres using Storypark. These can be copied and adapted to meet your needs.
  2. Our Learning Sets are the set you have either created yourself or copied from the public set. All sets in Our learning sets area will be available for you to add to stories you and your team create.

Why use learning tags

The purpose of learning tags is to highlight learning outcomes, curriculum, philosophy, and or meaningful aspects of learning such as dispositions, virtues, habits of mind etc. for families and teachers.

By thoughtfully adding learning tags to your stories you can then generate a learning trends report which provides accurate data on what learning tags have and haven’t been used over a selected period of time. This is very useful for individual teachers to inform their teaching practices and for the centre to support programme planning.

How to use sets and tags

The great aspect of learning sets and tags is you can personalise them to showcase what is meaningful to learn at your centre.

As a team it is useful to create and or select learning sets that are useful and meaningful for you, your curriculum and philosophy. For instance I worked with a New Zealand centre recently that had saved Nurturing Early Learners (which is the Singapore curriculum) to their sets; a great curriculum but in no way relevant or useful for them.

I would suggest having 4 to 5 meaningful sets that enable you to highlight important learning and development that is relevant to your programme and curriculum.

Each learning set should have clearly named tags and useful descriptions. The descriptions provide further information relating to the tag to better inform families of the learning etc. their child engaged in. This could include web links to examples or useful readings online.

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Once you have completed a story it is useful to consider what was the main learning that occurred, and or the reason you choose to write the story and select 2 – 3 tags that exemplify this for the families.

Tags were never intended as a tick box method of assessment. We do encourage you to create the story as you would for a child’s paper based story and if using the learning stories framework continue to include the notice, recognise and respond aspects of the story. The tags are great for getting teachers to consider the learning that occurred and in turn highlight this to families thus providing further information through the descriptions.

“We have just recently “cleared out” our tags and linked them to our parent aspirations from our goal setting meetings. We found that the teachers were using way too many tags so we have eliminated a lot to try and get a clearer picture of what is going on for each child in the reports we use at the end of the 6 months of assessment. We also didn’t want the teachers to use tags as an alternative to actually naming the learning themselves, and we feel our team know Te Whāriki (NZ curriculum) well enough to be able to describe this within the learning story themselves.” Helen Nehon Manager of Kids to five Vardon in Hamilton

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Over tagging stories will provide you with learning trends reports that do not depict a true picture of what learning has been occurring. For example one teacher tagged a story with over 32 tags.  My question is – Did the child really experience all of those learning outcomes from the brief time they were digging in the sand pit?

“At Kids to five Vardon the language and terms used in the learning stories themselves reference our curriculum and reflect the language used in Te Whariki (NZ curriculum) so it is embedded in our assessments in a natural way, rather than relying on a tag to show the connection. The learning tag set we are getting our teachers to focus on links to the competencies which reflect teacher goals for children and parent aspirations, the intention of which is to show growth over time in a measurable form using the reports.” Grace Winter Assistant Manager of Kids to five Vardon in Hamilton

Professional Teacher learning sets and tags

Every teacher has a free My Portfolio in Storypark that can be used to organise and store evidence for your teaching appraisal, goals and teacher registration etc. Therefore it is useful to also have tags available to you that are relevant to these i.e. Education Council NZ Practicing Teaching Criteria, Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, appraisal goals. Here is an example of my appraisal goals for this year. Here is an example of my personal appraisal goals

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 11.55.06 amWhen I duplicate a child’s story that provides evidence of my teaching practice I can save it to My portfolio, remove the child’s learning tags and retag the story with relevant tags for me i.e goals, teacher criteria etc.

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I hope you have found this information and suggestions useful, I would really like to hear from you on how you are using sets and tags, please feel free to share your ideas and stories. Want to learn more about all the ways Storypark can improve learning outcomes for children? Sign up to one of our free webinars

Posted by Sharon Carlson

Sharon's early years were supported at home by her Mum in Taranaki. She later became an ECE ICT facilitator for CORE Education, and then Storypark. Sharon has successfully supported the implementation of a diverse range of ICT products and services around the country and is helping make sure Storypark is awesome for teachers and children's development.

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