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Please Help Me Understand Observations?


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Hi,

having just completed my first half term in reception I feel I am coping quite well but I am not 100% sure that my assessment is up to scratch.

I have been doing individual observations when children are having child initiated play and I observe exactly what they are doing. I also have been trying to use post it's for incidental observations, however I'm not sure I have really got my head round these. I have lots of CLL and MD ones where children have used numbers or letters etc in their play, but I'm not entirely sure what i should be looking out for the rest of the time? Also what about group and whole class observations? I seem to always focus in individual children and am not sure when to do these types of observations.

Could anyone give me some examples of types of activities where you have done class/group observations and how/what you recorded for them? And also examples of what sort of things you note on post it's?

Sorry if I sound a bit stupid, but we have ofsted looming and I want to get it right. Thanks for any help.

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MrsL it sounds as if you are doing fine. It takes a while to get to grips with observations, post its are useful for writing anything that you think is significant that is happening as children work and play---you may hear a snippet of a conversation that shows that the child is sharing well.

You will find as you become more familiar with the profile points that all this sort of thing becomes easier. Do what you can now or you will drive yourself mad?

The Vicky Hutchins books are very easy to read and could help.

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Mrs L,

 

As said by previous person, you are doing fine. It is difficult to understand if you have not had early years training (no disrespect meant). This might sound complicated, but it actually works really well. I have a small notebook (diary size lined) for each child in the class. The book is divided into the six areas of learning. Each day I have 6 focus children (30 by end of week) and I write snippets of information about each one within the relevant area of learning. It gives you a record of the areas children are working in and the areas you need to help them develop in further, especially if you find you have nothing recorded under KUW or PHY for example. I use photographic evidence, post-it notes and work samples to back up my observations. At the end of each half term I transfer the information from the observation book onto a stepping stone tracking sheet and again I can see gaps in the child's learning experiences or interests.

 

I also do Individual Learning plans for each child at the beginning of each term and get parent's to input so I have a clear vision of what I hope my children will achieve each term. Anything not attained is carried over to the next term.

 

Remember though that it is important to have a reason to observe. Long narrative observations timed with children's movements don't really mean anything. The whole purpose of your observations are to find out how you can plan ahead to help children develop further.

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I can recommend a really good book about observations - it's not heavy reading and explains everything very clearly - "Observing and Assessing for the Foundation Stage Profile" by Vicky Hutchin, published by Hodder and Stoughton.

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I agree with Susan, its a case of becoming familiar with the documents you have to work with. There was a time when I could observe something and know which stepping stone it was without looking it up! Sad I know, but it was just from working with the FS all the time that I really did know what I was seeing.

Rome wasnt built in a day :o

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  • 2 weeks later...

I feel alwful :o I'm now in my second year of teaching and still haven't got my head around observations! I have a fairly busy class of 30 reception and just don't seem to find the time to write observations. I have started but I know I have no where near enough and some children still haven't got any so late on in the term. I'm just finding it overwelming! anyone else feel the same?

 

Thanks

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frequently Rachel!

 

Perhaps you are trying to do too much. Try shorter obs that give you info to inform your planning and the assessment. What do you do when the children are working with you? If you write anything down, those are observations too.

Try some play tracking to see where the children go and who they are with.

 

Dont beat yourself up for what you feel you havent done, as Im sure you are doing more than you think you are. Focus on one thing at a time and build on your success.

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In my local reception class the TA oversees for 15 minute slots so the teacher can do some obs. If the session has some good planning, then you should be able to get some obs in.

 

I don't teach reception, but we do the same type of thing, I write obs into the planning so one person has a whole sesion to do as much as they can (including logging up 15 mins before and after the session).

 

There are times, of course where it all goes downhill and we end up doing other duties, but on the whole it works.

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