Saturday, October 11, 2014

The learning wall

Last weekend I had the pleasure to co-facilitate an IB workshop "Inquiry and the librarian across the three programmes with Gary Green (@ggreen7) who has been working at PLC in Perth, Australia for the past 12 years as the Head of Library among many other roles he has undertaken at the school. This was the second workshop we facilitated together.

Gary is all about the learning, and is an inspirational educator to learn from and work with. He is always thinking of new ways to teach better and ensuring the learner is actively engaged in their own learning. 

As part of our learning journey together I have introduced him to some online tools and ways of learning, and he has introduced me to some great paper thinking tools he has created. We are a great team as we are able to work with each others strengths and we are both flexible and reflective. This last workshop Gary introduced me to the "Learning Wall' which he had just developed for his students based on his learning in the Harvard "Making thinking Visible" course. He had enough copies for all the participants and he persuaded me that this was a good idea before we started, so we went with it rather than an online document either as a downloadable or google doc that we had used before as it allowed for a 'jot style' of notetaking.


We introduced it to the participants and explained how we envisioned its use. It was a type of placemat where they could just place short notes into each box or brick. The wall is a metaphor for their learning, building upon previous knowledge.

Over the three days of learning, the participants walls filled up, some even overflowed onto a new wall. At the end of each day we asked them to place their learning walls on the real wall for others (and us) to see what learning was happening in the room.  In the very last session we asked them to circle the following on their wall :- 

Something they will initiate in the next week
Something that will be a short term goal (by end of year)
Something that will be a long term goal (1-3 years)

They then had to talk to a partner about their learning over the 3 days and the goals they were making. 

The learning wall is a very visual way of knowing what is being learned by the class participants, and a great reflective tool for after the workshop. The participants can now take this page and show to their line managers, co-ordinators and pin it on their notice board to remind them of the learning they had a the workshop.

I have thought about how else the learning wall could be used.  A student could carry it with him or herself over a day and uses it to jot down the learning as it happens then reflect on it in the evening (but not every day - this could get a bit painful). Or when students and teachers are engaged in one day seminars they can keep track of their learning in small bite sized chunks. The beauty of the learning wall is that it does not allow for copious notes, so the learner needs to really transform their understandings into small chunk sized pieces. 

What do you think? How might you see this tool being used?

If you do create a modified version of the learning wall please ensure you attribute Gary in this, his creative genius does need to be acknowledged.

Using this page 
Anyone may link to this Library Grits without asking prior permission, I’d be honored and happy that you have found it useful. However, I would appreciate if you cited it correctly if you use any part of it wholly or separately.

This page can be cited as follows :
McKenzie, D. (2014, 11 October)  The learning wall. [Blog] Retrieved from

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