Cross-phase articles about teaching and learning
Pinned Planning next steps in the moment (available to visitors)
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.
An observations and assessments walkthrough (available to visitors)
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.
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.
An early years practitioner in the Millennium: Challenges of technology, austerity, accountability, and globalisation. One practitioner’s perspective. (available to visitors)
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?
“Working with multilingual children in the Early Years.” Dr Rose Drury speaking at The Nursery World Show – February 2017. (available to visitors)
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.
Everything You Need To Know About Observation - and Why We Do It (available to visitors)
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?
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.
The Historical Context of Outdoor Learning and the Role of the Practitioner. (available to visitors)
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.
Development Matters: A landscape of possibilities, not a roadmap (available to visitors)
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.
Creative Diaries: Clay Work in the Early Years (available to visitors)
“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
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!
Creative Diaries: Taking a line for a walk (available to visitors)
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.
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.
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.
Developing Sustained Shared Thinking to enhance the areas of Learning and development – Prime areas (available to visitors)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Objective-led Planning (available to visitors)
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.
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.
Characteristics of Effective Learning: play and exploration in action (available to visitors)
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.
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.
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.
Using the TASC system in EYFS Settings (available to visitors)
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
Educational Pioneers: Susan Isaacs, 1885-1948 (available to visitors)
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.
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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FSF April Newsletter
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