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Hi hope everyone is having a good term. My little ones are once again fantastic and we have lots of "learning through PLAY" fun each day. Just a question, though maybe there isn't a right answer!!!!!! How many focused observations do people do each week, term etc on one child

Came up at school between different staff, so thought I would see what all you wonderful people do on the FSF

Thanks a lot

Bev

x

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Hi Bev,

 

I don't seem to be fitting in many focussed obs at all with everything else on the timetable. My obs tend to be more random (post-its and photos) which I then transfer to a file with each child in it (having thier own litle section). What do you do?

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Hi BevL,

I think maybe you're right there isn't a correct answer. Some practitioners may do a set amount as requested by their managers.

When I had my preschool, I would do, and expect my staff to do focused observations as and when they felt they were necessary, in other words when they needed to find out something in particluar that they didn't know through any other assessment methods. I certainly didn't feel there needed to be a 'quota' of formal observations, just for the sake of it.

We would also do focused (sometimes called 'formal') observations if required, for say a speech therapist, to provide 'evidence' of our concerns.

We would also do focused 'group' observations, such as sociograms if we wanted to reflect on the dynamics of the current group, or to assess staff interactions etc, as and when we decided we needed this information.

 

Peggy

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Hi BevL,

I think maybe you're right there isn't a correct answer. Some practitioners may do a set amount as requested by their managers.

When I had my preschool, I would do, and expect my staff to do focused observations as and when they felt they were necessary, in other words when they needed to find out something in particluar that they didn't know through any other assessment methods. I certainly didn't feel there needed to be a 'quota' of formal observations, just for the sake of it.

We would also do focused (sometimes called 'formal') observations if required, for say a speech therapist, to provide 'evidence' of our concerns.

We would also do focused 'group' observations, such as sociograms if we wanted to reflect on the dynamics of the current group, or to assess staff interactions etc, as and when we decided we needed this information.

 

Peggy

 

Thank you so much, already feel better about it. We do a some focused obs, sticky labels, WOW moments and take lots of photos of our children. Just panic every now and then and need reassurance

Cheers

x

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Hi,

since the new fsp came in this september we have also been taking lots of different photo in all areas of learning and trying to do short observations along with one language obs per term. Then this term we have been focusing on the more longer focused observations one per child. It is taking some doing but as a team hopefully each child will have one focused obs with photo to stick into their learning journey. Good luck 0258 x

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I work in school nursery and we start each day with C.I. specific time.

During this first half hour, 2 adults are play partners and 1 is doing focused/ planned observations. We pick 1 area from the 6 and work through the children so that eventaully, they have all got one.Obviously if something in a different area arises, then we would change the focsu of the ob and the child invovled.

We find this works for us- we have the required number to give to our FS leader and we take turns to do the ob so that we watch each other interact with the children as well. No easy answer through is there!

During the rest of the morning, we make notes on teacher led activities and again, if we see a good opportunity to do another ob then we will, but this is not then our main concern as we have done our observations as it were.

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Hi,

since the new fsp came in this september we have also been taking lots of different photo in all areas of learning and trying to do short observations along with one language obs per term. Then this term we have been focusing on the more longer focused observations one per child. It is taking some doing but as a team hopefully each child will have one focused obs with photo to stick into their learning journey. Good luck 0258 x

 

 

May I ask what the 'rationalle' (spl?) is for you doing these focused observations, apart from having 'something extra' to place in every childs learning journey?

 

Such observations are not always relevant unless

1/ there is a clear aim (what area of development you need to observe and knowing why) and objective (obs method -narrative, tracker, sociogram etc and whether child will need to be encouraged to participate in an activity which will best serve the aim of the observation)

2/ The childs actions/behaviour/language etc durig the observation actually gives you te information you need.

 

Is it fair to make an assessment of a child from one focused observation? If it's not then why only do one per term?

At least post-its are numerous so give an all round picture of a childs development within a variety of contexts.

 

I'm not saying don't do these but to think about the S.M.A.R.T. use of adults observation skills and keep in mind the purposeful reasons for doing observations.

 

Peggy

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Hi Peggy,

please could you enlighten me- what is a sociogram?

I agree with your comments about needing a rationale for observing. Filling up folders is not good enough reason- they must be useful and form part of assessments rather than be the assessment. We always record speech verbatim, which I presumed everyone did until our new NN started this year and wrote things like "the children talked at the sand..." what did they say?! This is the purpose of doing them! Windows to the mind. What do you think of our system for obs as I described- you obviously really know your stuff so I would value your comments either way!

Thanks.

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On a course a couple of weeks ago, we were told we should do 2 or 3 focused obs during the year for each child, lasting 5 to 10 minutes.

And they talked about spontaneous observations being relevant and not just making notes for the sake of it

 

jackie.

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do you think each LA is doing what they want re this? Our daily obs. are insisted on by FS leader who wants to see them in our short term planning- we have to state each day who we plan to do, but can annotate if we change the "planned" child. Apparantly, this is what she was told on course!

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Hi Peggy,

please could you enlighten me- what is a sociogram?

I agree with your comments about needing a rationale for observing. Filling up folders is not good enough reason- they must be useful and form part of assessments rather than be the assessment. We always record speech verbatim, which I presumed everyone did until our new NN started this year and wrote things like "the children talked at the sand..." what did they say?! This is the purpose of doing them! Windows to the mind. What do you think of our system for obs as I described- you obviously really know your stuff so I would value your comments either way!

Thanks.

 

 

This link explains a sociogram HERE,

 

This was the best example I could find at this late hour, the article says it's best for children aged 4+, which I disagree with because I used it in my preschool, for ages 2 upwards. My staff observed which children chose to play with who over a period of a week, making a mark each time they were observed to be spending a specific, notable time with a peer, or adult for that matter. So what I am saying you don't necessarily need to have a child 'tell' you who their social choices are, it can be observed. I did these type of obs when settling in, and it helped with deciding who to place in key groups, including which adult to be the keyworker with which group. Hope that makes sense.

 

The fact that you have a set system for when observations take place is due to your need to meet your FS leaders requirements, and they are planned to occur during the first half hour of each session, so are they child or leader led?

Does your FS leader want you to have one observation on each area of the curriculum (6 in total per child) completed over a period of time or do you decide what area of the curriculum you want to observe?

 

I personally think that it is really difficult to 'plan' for when observations should take place to get the best out of using them.

Obviously your group dynamics in terms of adults available, other adult roles within the course of a session etc will determine how obs are carried out.

When I ran my setting (preschool) the keyworkers were the ones who knew what observations they needed, and what type of observation, and what focus would fill their knowledge gaps about each of their individual children. So, for example Ann (staff) has identified that she does not know enough about Katy's (child) understanding of positional language, Ann can't 'plan' to observe this say on Monday at 9:30am, unless of course she plans an adult initiated activity, at that particular time, to promote this concept. This is ok, but not totally child centrered, which I believe is when you get the best 'measure' of a childs' development. So it would be Anns role to be aware of when a variety of resources and/or activities which promote this concept are available, or she could ask for them to be put on the short term plans, until Katy accesses and shows a keen interest, thus enabling a good observation of the child 'embracing' this concept.

This is really difficult for me to explain. The keyworker will have an idea of a number of things she wants to find out about a child and if the setting is offering a broad curriculum then whatever aspect the staff needs to observe should become accessible to the child for the staff to see within a relatively short period of time. If not positional language opportunity one week then observe something else you want to know, ie: language within the roleplay area if this is required.

My main point is don't do observations that may give you information you already know, do observations for what you don't know.

So now comes the problem of the staff member 'catching the moment' to do a 5 min ( which I think is long enough for say a narrative obs) observation. Continuous provision sheets will give staff an idea of which area/activity best promotes a particular concept, skill. attitude which they need to observe. Then the staff member needs to be available (free) and ready to carry out the observation, and to be aware, observant for when her key child accesses the relevant area/activity. In my setting staff always had pen and observation sheets available at all times, for a variety of types of observations. They then used a 'sign' to let other staff know they were 'busy' with an observation. We tried different ideas, at one time the 'observer' would put on a hat, but this bought too much attention to them from the children :( . We used their interest to then explain to the children when Peggy has a hat on she is doing some writing, so please don't disturb her. They soon got the idea of this and left any 'observer' alone to get on with her obs. Then we had a new staff member who felt uncomfortable wearing a hat, so our next idea for a sign was that the 'observer' took off her tabard.

anyway, I digress, basically all staff, as I'm sure you know need to support the observer from being interrupted. All my staff were expected to know what observations they needed to carry out each week, it could be 3 obs on the same child, or one obs each on 3 or 4 different children, it was their job to 'be aware' of possible observation opportunities that may present themselves during a session, also with the knowledge of what types of activities were being offered in line with childrens interests etc from the daily planning.

Maybe, remember the cycle, plan, do, review, well the observations I believe fit in with the 'do' bit of the cycle, so your 'do' plans will enable relevant observations to take place.

 

Hope I haven't confused you :o Does any of the above make sense?

Basically like everything else in EY's observations should be child led, not a tool for evidence as their primary use, but a tool to gain more knowledge of the child. And don't forget just because something about a child hasn't been formally written in a focused observation, this doesn't mean you don't know it.

I do agree with you that the quality of the observation is important, such as writing what a child actually said at the sand, rather than the child 'talked'. If post-it observations are as detailed as possible this will reduce the need to do many focused observations. xD

 

and last but not least, the time to 'evaluate' the information within a set of observations is paramount, one observation is just a piece of the larger picture. Just a peep into your proverbial window to the mind. :(:(

 

Peggy

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just had a thought, maybe you could write your observation plans retrospectively, just like retrospective activity plans. ie: list who you have observed today at the end of the session, rather than who you are going to observe today at the beginning of the session. :o

 

Peggy

 

p.s. This worked for me, it may not with your 'class' dynamics. There is not right or wrong way, it what works best for you and your children.

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Mozart, I think different LAs do recommend or advise slight differences in the ways things might be done and that is because they are also made up of differing personalities with different experinces behind them, but I also think you will find similar threads running behind what they say.

 

I agree with peggy in that I only realy managed to do focussed observations where there was a 'need' to, rather than following a 'its so and so's turn today..' That need could be for SEN purposes, it could be a child who has been absent a while, it could be a child you just dont know very well (we all have them if we are honest), or it couldbe a child who's behavour has recently changed in some way.

I an ideal world I would have loved to have regular long obs of my chidlren as they tell you so much that a 'wow' style one doesnt. But we dont live in an ideal world and whatever you do must be manageable, hence us turnng to 'need' as the defining factor for us.

 

I come back to this one oever and over again, what matters is HOW you use them and not how many you do.

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Thank you everyone. Glad it's not only me who gets so befuddled!!!!!!!! Still always the paperwork that gives me more grey hairs, than what we do with the children. Learning through PLAY is so valuable and we all know the children learn and move on, just wish I could write it all down a bit better!!!!!!!!

Oh just to share a WOW moment. As most of you know I work with little ones with pmld and complex medical needs. Last week we set up a sensory igloo - white balloon filled duvet, white and blue sheets, polar bears, white tinsel, bath pom poms as snowballs, real white objects to explore, dangly, shiny icicles etc etc. One little girl who can hardly move opened her eyes in wonder when we lay her down and she reached towards an object for the first time ever WOW. Those are the special moments which keep me focused and help me get through all the confusion with the paperwork

Have a good week everyone and lots of WOW moments with your children. Thats the magical bit about our job!!!!

x

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Thanks everyone for your really helpful and interesting replies. You are both so right in what you say, sometimes, my need to have the evidence for FS leader- yes, each child does have to have one in every area as part of their evidence, probably means I miss more worthwhile stuff elsewhere. I shall mull your thoughts over and obviously will have to do as I'm told for the foreseeable future, but I could find some way of trailing a more spontaneous appraoch without FS leader knowing and then present the suggestion that way.

The obs are all either child led or child initiated by the way. Thanks for the sociogram info peggy.

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just wish I could write it all down a bit better!!!!!!!!

 

Your 'observaion' and more importantly the relevance of it for this individual child has been written perfectly, catching the moment and celebrating this WOW achievement of physical dexterity, awe and wonder. xD:(

Thanks goodness the staff had the little girl in her arms to lay her in the igloo, rather than a sheet of paper elsewhere writing a possibly less relevant observation. :o

 

A great summing up of the value of observation. :(

 

Peggy

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Like Peggy and mundia I plan to observe formally (clipboard at the ready) when I consider there is a real purpose/need not just for the sake of saying I've done it. That isn't to say all of us aren't observing all of the time (just not writing it down at the time). We all make mental notes that "x can do that" or "y needs more support to master". I think it's all too easy to get drawn into the clipboard and post it culture and forget we are there to interact and "teach" children.

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what an interesting thread this has turned out to be. I am a post NQT in Nursery, so have to do as I'm told! My FS leader works in Y2 and the best CPD she has ever given me was the LA password to this site to get info and read thoughts and debates from all the experts out there. Thank you again

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what an interesting thread this has turned out to be. I am a post NQT in Nursery, so have to do as I'm told! My FS leader works in Y2 and the best CPD she has ever given me was the LA password to this site to get info and read thoughts and debates from all the experts out there. Thank you again

 

 

I think maybe Steve would like to use your lovely quote for any future PR of the forum. :o

Thanks for taking the time to acknowledge your interest in this thread. xD

 

Peggy

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Peggy- the pleasure is all mine. The professionalism of regulars on the site who share info, opinions, ideas and suggestions, which all takes up time, seems to know no bounds and should be used as an example to "not my job" teachers who will not put themselves out one jot for the good of the children in their care. Long may it continue!

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Im definately sure there are no 'not my job' teachers residing in the FSF xD:o

 

and if there are any out there (ie: non FSF members) they must feel quite lonely :(

 

Peggy

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