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List of Teaching and Learning Articles

Cross-phase articles about teaching and learning

Pinned  Planning next steps in the moment (available to visitors)

by Anna Ephgrave in Teaching and Learning

Planning for individual children is a statutory requirement.   However, such plans do not have to be written down.  A skilful practitioner is making several hundred “in the moment” plans every day.   

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Next steps, choose wisely (available to visitors)

by Rebecca in Teaching and Learning

This is the first article in what will be a series examining questions such as ‘What are next steps?’, ‘Who decides which next steps are appropriate?’, ‘What is the best way to record next steps?’ and ‘How often should next steps be reviewed?’

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An observations and assessments walkthrough (available to visitors)

by Rebecca in Teaching and Learning

In this article we look in detail at two observations and explain, in depth, how we assess and allocate refinements to what we are seeing.  From the article, you will learn how you can use information gathered from observations, in conjunction with the Development Matters document, to assess children's attainment.

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Observing and assessing extended tutorial for Tapestry users

by Rebecca in Teaching and Learning

In this article we look in detail at two observations and explain, in depth, how we assess and allocate refinements to what we are seeing.  From the article, you will learn how we, at Tapestry, use information gathered from observations, in conjunction with the Development Matters document, to assess children's attainment.

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Teacher Choices: Visible and open to question (available to visitors)

by Jill McLachlan in Teaching and Learning

As teachers, we are constantly making decisions. Choosing how to respond, to the events in any given day, is never a neutral undertaking. Our decisions have impact on not only our own experience, but also that of the children we teach and the communities around those children. Our decisions and practice are positioned in a complex web of relationships, influenced by competing and continually changing circumstances and priorities. Stepping up to this responsibility to make decisions wisely, and embracing the opportunity to shape life within our centres and schools, can feel like a heavy burden if we venture into the task alone. The significance of our influence and power in shaping and leading culture, invites us to wrestle together to find wisdom and clarity in the big and small decisions we face daily.

 

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An early years practitioner in the Millennium: Challenges of technology, austerity, accountability, and globalisation. One practitioner’s perspective. (available to visitors)

by WChurchill in Teaching and Learning

I spent over twenty rewarding and stimulating years as a classroom teacher in the North of England and for the most part as a senior manager responsible for the early years foundation stage (EYFS). I delighted in working with children and parents and felt hugely privileged to be able to foster relationships and play a role in such a formative time in their lives.  I was immensely proud of my achievements and my work was very much a part of my identity and who I was.   I did not aspire to be a Headteacher as I did not feel that management was a route I would take to achieve my goals. It was also possible that this path could be at variance with my evolving teaching philosophy. I always thought I would stay in the classroom but as those of you who were followers of my posts on the forum will know, this intention did not come to fruition for me and reaching for goals can take unknown paths.

What are your long and short-term goals?

What are your aspirations for the children that you work with?

What needs to be accessible to you to achieve these aspirations?

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“Working with multilingual children in the Early Years.” Dr Rose Drury speaking at The Nursery World Show – February 2017. (available to visitors)

by Kate Cahill in Teaching and Learning

From Spring 2017, all schools will be required to assess and report on English proficiency in the Department for Education (DfE) census for any child with English as an additional language (EAL). As this will include children in maintained nursery schools and classes, as well as those in reception, Dr. Rose Drury’s seminar on working with multilingual children in the early years was very timely.

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Everything You Need To Know About Observation - and Why We Do It (available to visitors)

by Michaela Machan in Teaching and Learning

As a student getting to grips with the world of early years, the word ‘observation’ filled me with fear and trepidation.  I knew it was important but what exactly, was it that I was being asked to do? I didn’t walk around with my eyes shut so why were people asking me to observe?

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What can Play contribute to Early Years Science?

by Natalie Day in Teaching and Learning

We know that children love to play. Play is an intrinsic developmental vehicle by which children develop a plethora of skills through physical play, playing with objects, pretence and game play. This ‘knowledge’ of the importance of play has gained the attention of developmental and educational research, with growing empirical evidence for the positive impact that play has on a child’s holistic development.

 

 

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A Paradox of Pedagogy

by Claire Warden in Teaching and Learning

Nature pedagogy is defined as a natural way of working with children that embraces nature. It is all encompassing, from the educational environments we create, to the process of assessment and planning, through to the Learning Journeys that we encourage children and families to take throughout childhood (Warden 2012). 

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The Historical Context of Outdoor Learning and the Role of the Practitioner. (available to visitors)

by Michaela Machan in Teaching and Learning

You could be forgiven for thinking that outdoor play is a relatively new phenomenon, driven by The National Trust (2016) and their ‘50 Things to do before you’re 11¾’ project.  Children and being outside seems to be a recurrent theme in the media and with organisations, such as the National Trust, focused on reconnecting people with nature and the outside. Outdoor play is not a new construct; those of us who played outside throughout childhood have fond memories of being at one with nature. 

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Development Matters: A landscape of possibilities, not a roadmap (available to visitors)

by Nancy Stewart in Teaching and Learning

How many times have you thought that it would be easy to use Development Matters as a 'tick list'? Which managers have had heated meetings with staff who say that 'ticking off' aspects makes it so much easier to plan next steps? I know that here at FSF HQ we get many many requests to create a tick chart on Tapestry for staff to use, we always say 'No, absolutely not'. In this article, Nancy Stewart, who co-authored Development Matters, explains brilliantly why the tick sheet approach is not appropriate and explains the rationale behind the Development Matters statements.

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Creative Diaries: Clay Work in the Early Years (available to visitors)

by Ruksana Mohammed in Teaching and Learning

“Only through the arts and by being creative can children explore the inner world of their imagination and feeling – the world that is uniquely them”.

Sir Ken Robinson, Patron of Earlyarts.

 

‘One day a grandma was a parent helper teaching in one area of the room. After she watched me working with the children she pulled me aside to tell me her first experience with clay. She told me that the only thing she still has today from all her years of school is a little pinch pot she made when she was in her first year’. (Post, Date unknown). What is remarkable of this story is the importance that this grandma attached to this little object she made in clay some sixty years ago. All the maths, writing, worksheets she may have done as a child is all gone. The only artefact she valued enough to keep from her time in school is the one thing she made with her own hands. This demonstrates that things and experiences we value as human beings stay with us and we keep them close, but also the value of clay work in the earliest years of childhood

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Capturing Children's Sparks

by Ruksana Mohammed in Teaching and Learning

It is often noted in literature that planning and teaching should be based around children’s interests. Through doing so, practitioners can enhance development and progress in each area of learning. The National Strategies for Early Years suggest that ‘children’s choices and interests are the driving force for building knowledge, skills and understanding’ (DfCSF, 2009, p.6). Therefore practitioners need to be attuned to children’s play, their conversations, and the activities that they participate in. This is so they can search for clues to each child’s interest, thus becoming what I call the interest catcher!

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Creative Diaries: Taking a line for a walk (available to visitors)

by Ruksana Mohammed in Teaching and Learning

The provision of mark making opportunities can help children develop imaginatively, creatively and physically. Mark making is important for many reasons. It is a visible way for children to tell stories and express feelings, record what they have to say, solve problems and discover solutions – and sometimes it is just an outlet for pure physical enjoyment.

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Individuality Matters: The Curse of Development Checklists

by Ruksana Mohammed in Teaching and Learning

The use of milestones in the form of development checklists do not take on the individuality of each child. They are generic and imply that all children go through the sequential process. This article aims to introduce the concept of individuality of each child with a focus on stepping away from the curse of the checklist.

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Developing Sustained Shared Thinking to enhance the Specific areas of learning and development

by Kathy Brodie in Teaching and Learning

Kathy Brodie examines how Sustained Shared Thinking can be used to enhance the four areas of learning and development in the EYFS known as the Specific Areas: Mathematics, Expressive Arts and Design, Literacy and Understanding the World.

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Developing Sustained Shared Thinking to enhance the areas of Learning and development – Prime areas (available to visitors)

by Kathy Brodie in Teaching and Learning

In this article, Kathy Brodie focuses on how sustained shared thinking can support each of the Prime areas of learning and development, as defined by the EYFS – Communication and Language; Physical Development and Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

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Choosing 'Next Steps' from your observations

by Kathy Brodie in Teaching and Learning

It is not always clear  how observations should be used to inform planning, assessments and evaluation of children's progress. Sometimes the huge array of choices can make choosing a next step a really confusing task.

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Children, play and digital technologies

by Christine Stephen in Teaching and Learning

This article is about young children playing with digital technologies at home and in their educational settings. It draws on a series of research studies conducted at the University of Stirling over a period of 10 years with my colleagues Professor Lydia Plowman and Joanna McPake.

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Characteristics of Effective Learning: creating and thinking critically

by Ruksana Mohammed in Teaching and Learning

This article is the third and final in our series on the Characteristics of Effective Learning, following on from Play and Exploration in Action and Active Learning in Action.

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Give your book corner a makeover!

by Michael Jones in Teaching and Learning

What children need in settings is a chance to spend quality time with an adult, with reading material that excites the children’s interests, in a space that is inviting.

 

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Objective-led Planning (available to visitors)

by Alistair Bryce-Clegg in Teaching and Learning

Many of the FSF members follow Alistair Bryce-Clegg's blog and have attended his very popular presentations. Following a discussion here about his innovative 'objective-led planning', we invited Alistair to explain this approach.

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Understanding and Developing Reflective Practice

by Penny Borkett in Teaching and Learning

This article will focus on the need for early years practitioners to develop their knowledge of reflective thinking. It will focus on some of the history and theory of reflective practice considering and discussing how theory can help develop practitioners knowledge of how and when to use reflective thinking in day to day situations. It will then go onto to discuss how reflective practice relates to the plethora of policy and guidance documents used within early years practice. The final section will draw on specific examples to illustrate how reflective practice has helped make early years practice more inclusive.

 

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Characteristics of Effective Learning: play and exploration in action (available to visitors)

by Ruksana Mohammed in Teaching and Learning

Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL) are a revived element in the current Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). CoEL advocate that in planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn, and then reflect these in their practice. A child’s individual learning characteristic will determine the way they respond to both the teaching and learning taking place in the environment. The focus of the CoEL is on how children learn rather than what they learn i.e. process over outcome. Underpinning the CoEL is the understanding that during their earliest years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, and adventurous learners throughout their lives. Children who do not receive this sort of support and interaction are likely to have a much different attitude about learning later on in life. Hence, why the supportive practitioner, and the environment they provide, need to nurture these CoELs to occur, but without forgetting that children are individuals who bring their own needs, talents and histories to the learning environment.

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Festivals: Hanukkah

by Juliet Mickelburgh in Teaching and Learning

Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is the Jewish Festival of Lights. The word Hanukkah means ‘rededication’, and it is a time for celebrating a great miracle in Jewish history and for showing hope and dedication against all the odds. The festival lasts for eight days, and this year it begins on the evening of Saturday 8th December and ends on the evening of Sunday 16th December. Juliet Mickelburgh outlines the festival and suggests some lovely activities to carry out with your children.

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Which Came First, the Forest or the School?

by Sara Knight in Teaching and Learning

Sara Knight, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Anglia Ruskin University, discusses the historical meanings of "schooling" and their relevance to today's young children. She outlines four ways in which we learn, and explains her concerns regarding an over-reliance on one of these ways: instruction. Sara argues that the Forest School approach helps children acquire the learning skills and dispositions essential for them to adapt to an uncertain future in the 21st century.

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Using Music to Support Foundation Stage Learning

by Mary E. Maunder in Teaching and Learning

Mary E. Maunder presents musical activities to support young children's development and learning across the six areas

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Using the TASC system in EYFS Settings (available to visitors)

by Belle Wallace in Teaching and Learning

Belle Wallace, creator of the TASC framework for developing children's thinking and problem-solving skills, explains how significant the relationship is between the acquisition of language and the development of thought.

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Educational Pioneers: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778

by Juliet Mickelburgh in Teaching and Learning

Rousseau's understanding of the early years of child development as being a profound time in our lives is still relevant today. His appreciation of how much a child learns through finding things out for themselves, and of the role of observation and thoughtful interaction with the child in facilitating this kind of learning, are central to our current understanding of good practice in the early years.

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Educational Pioneers: Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, 1746-1827

by Juliet Mickelburgh in Teaching and Learning

Pestalozzi realised that children feel safe and secure at home and that it was this atmosphere that was most conducive to learning. However, he founded a number of educational establishments as he was aware that not all children could spend time learning in the comfort of their homes. Pestalozzi believed that the early years were a time of influence in children's lives and that a safe, loving and stimulating environment would ensure a successful start to their education.

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Educational Pioneers: Friedrich Froebel, 1782-1852

by Juliet Mickelburgh in Teaching and Learning

As the name of his system of schooling suggests, the 'kindergarten' or 'children's garden' allowed time for outside play and experiencing nature. Froebel felt that play should have a purpose if the child was to learn from it. He devised specific playthings and activities for young children, which he called the 'Gifts' and 'Occupations'.

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Educational Pioneers: Rudolf Steiner, 1861-1925

by Juliet Mickelburgh in Teaching and Learning

Like other educational theorists before him, Steiner divided childhood up into distinct phases. They fall in seven year cycles and are marked by physical changes in the child. He explained that the early years of childhood are a time of learning by being shown as opposed to being told.The importance of play imitating real life is still key to Steiner-Waldorf kindergartens today.

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Educational Pioneers: John Dewey, 1859-1952

by Juliet Mickelburgh in Teaching and Learning

Dewey partitioned childhood into different stages of development, the first stage being from the ages of four to eight years. He believed that during this period the key factors for successful learning were play, conversation, physical activity and storytelling.

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Educational Pioneers: Maria Montessori, 1870-1952

by Juliet Mickelburgh in Teaching and Learning

In her lifetime, Maria Montessori was regarded as one of the foremost female educationalists and her legacy continues today in many Montessori schools worldwide.

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Educational Pioneers: Susan Isaacs, 1885-1948 (available to visitors)

by Juliet Mickelburgh in Teaching and Learning

Isaacs had a passionate belief in the place of nursery education in society. She felt that attending a nursery school should be a natural part of a child’s early life: the early years setting was a place that should both mirror the family through love and warmth, as well as offering new and exciting opportunities and resources that might not be available at home.

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Educational Pioneers: Loris Malaguzzi, 1920-1994

by Juliet Mickelburgh in Teaching and Learning

A brief history and summary of the theories and practical aspects of the Reggio Emilia approach. Malaguzzi had a deep sense of respect for children's ability to be partners in their own learning, and this is at the heart of the Reggio approach to education. He is well known for his expression ‘the hundred languages of children', by which he meant that children understand the world and communicate their thoughts in so many different ways.

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