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Organising Observations


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:o Hi everyone!

This is my first ever post to Forum so please excuse me if I seem a bit longwinded, but I am now becoming desperate.

I am trying to organise how and when I carry out observations in my Reception Class. Have tried various systems but none seem to work. For this year I am thinking about the idea of each adult (2) to have a targeted group of children for one week. During that week I thought perhaps 1 whole group observation (focussed) and then individual observations also on a focussed area (i.e. PSED). Also for spontaneous observations to take place with our targeted group throughout the week.

 

Do you think this will work? I would really, really welcome any other ideas.

 

Thanks :

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Hi and welcome to the forum,

We have recently had an observation and assessment training in my borough by the head of our EYs and the advice was to not restrict yourself to certain children each day/week and I have to admit I do favour this approach. If you plan to observe certain children and they aren't doing anything particularly interesting and there's someone else on the other side of the classroom doing something wonderful it wouldn't make sense to observe the ones doing nothing much just because they haven't got any obs yet. Informal/spontaneous obs especially should be done as and when any child does something that you think is special. We were also told on the course that to have planned observation time at the same time each week was a bad idea - e.g. on a thursday afternoon children will always be the same level of tiredness, etc therefore you limit what you see. Other advice was not to have key workers but to let a range of different adults observe every child - what one person sees as one thing another person might see something completely different.

However, all that said obviously some sort of track needs to be kept on who has had what (formal, group, informal, photos) otherwise you end up with some children (usually the lower attainers who never seem to do anything special :o ) who have almost nothing and your super confident children who are constantly coming up with new things have loads. To avoid this I have two sheets of paper at the front of my ass file - both have the children's names down one side and the 6 areas of learning along the top. One sheet is for formal obs and one is for informal and photos - each time I add a new piece of evidence into the file I tick it off on the appropriate sheet. I then look back at the end of each week who has no evidence and then made a note of these in my notebook where I write my obs. For next week I have 5 names who have no evidence yet and then 8 names who only have one obs - therefore I know who I need to spend a little bit more time watching however I still observe/make informal obs of anyone who is doing anything worth noting.

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Hi and welcome to the forum,

We have recently had an observation and assessment training in my borough by the head of our EYs and the advice was to not restrict yourself to certain children each day/week and I have to admit I do favour this approach. If you plan to observe certain children and they aren't doing anything particularly interesting and there's someone else on the other side of the classroom doing something wonderful it wouldn't make sense to observe the ones doing nothing much just because they haven't got any obs yet. Informal/spontaneous obs especially should be done as and when any child does something that you think is special. We were also told on the course that to have planned observation time at the same time each week was a bad idea - e.g. on a thursday afternoon children will always be the same level of tiredness, etc therefore you limit what you see. Other advice was not to have key workers but to let a range of different adults observe every child - what one person sees as one thing another person might see something completely different.

However, all that said obviously some sort of track needs to be kept on who has had what (formal, group, informal, photos) otherwise you end up with some children (usually the lower attainers who never seem to do anything special :o ) who have almost nothing and your super confident children who are constantly coming up with new things have loads. To avoid this I have two sheets of paper at the front of my ass file - both have the children's names down one side and the 6 areas of learning along the top. One sheet is for formal obs and one is for informal and photos - each time I add a new piece of evidence into the file I tick it off on the appropriate sheet. I then look back at the end of each week who has no evidence and then made a note of these in my notebook where I write my obs. For next week I have 5 names who have no evidence yet and then 8 names who only have one obs - therefore I know who I need to spend a little bit more time watching however I still observe/make informal obs of anyone who is doing anything worth noting.

Hi Ariel,

Thank you, thank you, thank you - you have made things a lot clearer to me now. I did think myself that I shouldn't try and make observations such a restricted task (certain children each day), but thought that I would be doing wrong if I just "spotted" children doing something (which makes more sense).

I will certainly take on board all the advice you have given.

Could I just ask - would it be OK to have formal observations on a particular area (say K&UW) when working with a small group? Our EYS Advisor did say during one visit, that I should have an Observation Board where it is clearer shown what the focus for the week is.

Thanks

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Hiya

Sorry cant help but welcome :o Somebody will come to your aid fairly soon im sure

andrea

Hi,

Thanks for replying. I have just had a super reply from Ariel, lots of useful advice and suggestions.

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Thanks Ariel,

I am an experienced teacher but returned to Reception after a long time. I have to admit that last year was just trial and error with regard to observations. I have a little more support this year- 3 hrs each day but by the time we have covered phonics/ other literacy/ maths/ assemblies etc- there is very little time left to observe. It is not as though the children are not getting the experiences - I just feel that sometimes I am recording natural progress and that it is the chidlren who are not achieving who need the observations and next steps. However, I am going to try tracking my obs as you do and will see what happens.

best wishes

Edited by heywood
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Centurians, I'm sure that would be fine. My formal ob sheets are different for each of the 6 areas and sometimes I begin writing one out on a Math Dev cause children are in the maths area and actually it would be much more appropriate and children are addressing much more of the PSE side. So I think it's fine if you try to focus on one area - as long as you don't miss out other learning that is taking place that is not that area. By tracking your obs on a form after you have done then is slightly time consuming but it allows you to very clearly see who and also which area of learning is being neglected. I did this for the first time last year and quickly saw that hardly anything was being recorded for KUW. This did enable me to evaluate the provision and expereinces I was giveing children and put this right - I introduced an investigation area towards the end of last year.

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Centurians, I'm sure that would be fine. My formal ob sheets are different for each of the 6 areas and sometimes I begin writing one out on a Math Dev cause children are in the maths area and actually it would be much more appropriate and children are addressing much more of the PSE side. So I think it's fine if you try to focus on one area - as long as you don't miss out other learning that is taking place that is not that area. By tracking your obs on a form after you have done then is slightly time consuming but it allows you to very clearly see who and also which area of learning is being neglected. I did this for the first time last year and quickly saw that hardly anything was being recorded for KUW. This did enable me to evaluate the provision and expereinces I was giveing children and put this right - I introduced an investigation area towards the end of last year.

Thanks Ariel,

I have put some of your suggestions in place today at school. I have devised a couple of pro-formas for tracking formal and spontaneous observations, and although like you say, I think it is going to be a little time consuming I will be able to see the overall picture and be able to identify which areas are not being covered.

I do wonder however, about training for TA's. I explained my new system to her today, and she seemed a little confused as to what she was looking for exactly. Rather than looking broadly at child development, and being able to identify when a child has made progress, I think she would have been happier if I had said "I need you to look for "xyz" today. Anyway, not to worry, I shall see how it goes.

Thankyou again for your helpful and practical advise.

Joan

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