During one of my final practicum visits, I (Cathy) was excited to see one of my student teachers had created an audit trail. When I mentioned this to her, she replied, “I thought it was just a bulletin board.” But it was far more than ‘just a bulletin board’. The student work Melissa had beautifully displayed represented an entire science unit of learning from pre-diagnosis to final summaries.
Audit trails were popularized by Dr. Vivian Vasquez, in her ground breaking critical literacy work with 3-5 year olds. Vasquez says, An audit trail or learning wall, as my three to five year old students called it, is a public display of artifacts gathered together by a teacher and their students that represents their thinking about different issues and topics. This strategy is useful for creating spaces for students to re-visit, reread, analyze, and re-imagine various topics or issues. It is also a powerful tool for connecting past projects or areas of study to newer projects or areas of study. Further, it can be used as a tool for building curriculum as it visibly lays out the journey of the group’s thinking and learning over a period of time.