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Observation And Assessment


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:D Hope everybody had a good Christmas. Not sure whether I should have put this in section titled 'observation and assessment' but as its in the Reception/Year1 section I thought I'd better ask here instead as I find it to be a lot different now I'm in a FS unit. I'd like to get an idea of what others do as I'm sick of doing what the LEA suggests and then realising that its not for the best after all.

Assessment: I always used to assess at the end of each half term as I found that it gave me a clear understanding of what the child had learnt in relation to what had been taught that 1/2 term (esp in Lit and Numeracy). I know that assessment should be ongoing and feed into planning and we do do this in an informal way-eg adapt activity for individuals if they found it too difficult/easy but I'm not very good at planning in assessments and have been told that we should indicate on our Medium Term plan which activities we will be assessing that term.

Observations:Do you use both formal and informal systems? How do you collect the information? We have scrap books in which we type a brief description of what we have been learning that term and then include examples of work or a photograph. This takes ages but we have got into a system and can manage it. However, our LEA advisor has said that they aren't individualenough and that they should include our notes of observation.. I'd be willing to go along with this if I thought it was going to be beneficial for someone but I just can't see who. I don't like the idea of sticking a load of post-its in and messing up their books! xD Seriously though, I know we have to be accountable and that the childs 'learning journey' is important but I really don't want to make too much work for ourselves and would love to get othr people's ideas and opinions. As there are more chn in a FS Unit organising the collection of observations will be much harder than if I were just in a classroom. :o I'd love to hear what you have found successful/unsuccessful-even those who don't work in a unit.

Thanks :(

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Zim I supervise a pre-school. Each day an activity is the focus. I use previous observations to determine the focus. An adult is with that activity all morning noting down how capable that child is at achieving the learning goal.As long as all adults whether staff or volunteers are aware of stepping stones it is an easy system to keep up with. When we have an extra adult we often observe more that one activity.All adults have the responsibility of this during the term.I use laminated sheets for staff to refer to if they are unfamiliar on the correct 2language to use". Once all of the children have been observed we change it.At the end of term all staff look through the evidence and mark it on their child's ongoing progress sheet. We do have a key-worker system so it makes the task of collating all the evidence a bit easier. If anyone observes anything else at any time they write it on a post-it note and stick on the child's folder for the keyworker to note it down on the child records at the end of term.

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Hi zim, I'm in a playgroup, we have two focused activities per week at which time staff try to spend time with their key children but in effect observe who ever's there. We tried doing more focused obs during the week but with some children coming only twice it meant we had to litrally drag them to the activity or else follow them round until we'd got evidence from something else they were doing. Staff also felt like failiures if they didnt get to observe for some reason. With just a couple of focused activities we can allow for children not turning up on one day, staff being off sick or so many wet pants that the activity just gets pushed aside.

At the end of each half term all the obs are collected and put in each child's folder with their charts being filled in as we have time, to be honest, none of us like to do it without pay and the committee wont pay, and doing it during a session (even a quiet one is an absolute NO NO) A lot of what we do is in our heads and as we work so closely and so well together it suits us. Obviously everything is written in triplicate by the time Ofsted arrive or by the time the children are ready to move onto school, but on a day to day basis it really is organised chaos. And I know this post will have other people jumping with glee, you see there really is always somebody worse than yourself. :D:D:D

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Hi Zim,

We don't indicate what we are going to assess on Med term plans as assessment is ongoing and as early years practitioners don't we tend to assess everything? - thats how we know where to go next. Our Med term plans have never been followed exactly anyway.

 

We formally assess teacher focus activities each week (each child has an A4 sheet for each area where notes can be made - we don't repeat anything that has already been noted - only add new learning or difficulties).

 

Observations - we make anecdotal notes on sticky labels that can be transferred straight to child's sheet (A4 sheet - 3 areas of lrng each side).

Formal obs. - we decided to make a list of the chn. to be observed for the week - that way you are bound to see them at least once in your area during the week - 1 member of staff in each room observes and works alongside chn. in their play.

 

We try to take lots of photos which can be annotated and added to child's 'Development Book' - we use this instead of Profile booklet as it also contains stepping stones/profile statements - we also add pieces of work, assessments, parents and child's comments.

 

I'm not sure if this makes any sense!!

We have an advisor coming in to talk to us about this in January, will let you know what she says.

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Looks as though everyone is getting all busy for next term so I thought i'd join you all and go through my plans for next term.(Bearing in mind I have Ofsted on 11th Jan.)

When most children have been observed at an activity I highlight it on a copy of the E.L.G's so I know I have covered everything throughout a full term.

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We use both formal and informal obs and I put photos and examples in a book for each child. I went on a wonderful course where we were showm documetation of learning journeys- though anotated photo's and obs. These might follwo a group of childen and they were made into booklets or put up on the wall.

My problem now is that we have been asked to assess all out children from nursery entry with Lancashire PIVATS ( mainly used for special needs and mathcing to p levels and NC levels.) in the areas of PSE, CLL and Maths. We started in the Autumn term and on INSET day we have to use the data to inform our planning. We will be doing this once each term. This is as well as ELGs and the two sets of criteria are not necessarily quite the same.

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I hope this is not going to become a trend. Just before the end of term our new HT mentioned P levels in conjunction with a base line assessment in reception. I thought he had just made a mistake.

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I must have an addled brain! I thought the baseline assessment had been superceded and that the P scales were 'still to come'?!

 

I have been looking into P scales just out of interest but according to the QCA website they are currently in the process of 'developing exemplification materials to support teachers, schools and LES's in making sound judgements by using best-fit approaches for each P level. The materials will be available to schools in Spring 2005 and will be in a boxed pack containing a DVD and booklet advising on moderation procedures.' The QCA are also inviting schools to send in any examples of work that have been assessed to be between P levels 4-8. Case studies of P levels 1-3 will be considered at a later date.

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I'm told that it is to measure progress and support 'benchmarking'. The levels have a point score which can be translated into a NC score. Each average child must move on 3 NC points every year. Stepping Stones cannot be used for this but PIVATS can. I just do not like to have to keep two sets of records.I expect it is really to check that we are doing our jobs! No allowance for the spurts and lulls in young children's learning.

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This seems to be a real problem everywhere. I think it also stems from teachers being accountable and having assessment systems in place that will allow SATs to be discontinued.

It is a major headache though for us, as practitioners in FS settings within schools.

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  • 2 weeks later...

:) Thanks for your replies. Hope your OFSTEDs went well by the way. My school sent me on a PLevels course because they were under the impression they were for Foundation (the year 1 teacher had a copy of the literacy ones to use for target setting as children are of low ability in our school) but when I got there I was told I had been mistaken and that they SHOULD NOT be being used with Foundation Stage chn (don't know what PIVATS are though? What does that stand for?) 2 sets of assessment would just be ridiculous but in schools there is a lot of pressure for value added and its really hard attending whole staff meetings about levelling when I can only put the children into one band-working towards level 1 as FSP does not correlate.

Back to collecting evidence-have you got a copy of the laminated sheet with lang for assessment/observation Bubblejack? Can you also tell me a bit more about how you highlight ELG? Is that to assist your planning so you know what to cover next?

Think I like your idea of having a list of children that are to be observed that week Magenta. How exactly do you organise this? Its just that I'm finding working in this team really hard at the moment and we're only just keeping our heads above the water as it is, we've made that many changes and I know we should be flexible but I want to get into a routine of sytems for focused groups/rotas/observations that we can then be flexible wth! One member of staff made the ;i'll just stick a brush where the sun don't shine and clean up' comment the other day!! xD so any new sytems of observation/record keeping I needto keep as simple as poss. Also feel a lot of pressure from LEA but as you say Magenta, as EYS practitioner we doassess everything so why set it in stone on the Medium term plan? :o

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Our HT has introduced the tracking of children from nursery entry using PIVATs which is based on the P levels. Although they are not designed for FS children it is possible to use them for assessment, but they are different but the 2 assessments have alot of items in common. We have to do them for value-added and pupil tracking. A lot of work actually but they are designed for SEN so are used anyway for writing IEP's later on.

If you go to the QCA site and go to FS pupil profile second pre-test materials you will find that the profile statements have been matched to the P levels. Quite an interesting document as the ELGs are mainly p8 but with one or two statements being NC 2c!!

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Hi Zim,

I know what you mean about the 'brush' comment! We are definitely working a lot harder in the Unit than as separate Nursery, but luckily for us all staff are still enthusiastic at the moment!

Formal observations - very simple - each child has an A4 sheet in each area, observing adult makes very short/to the point comments when a child is in their area - can then be used for planning as well as assessment. We don't have specific things to look at yet, but may do this in the Summer Term if there are gaps? Not sure if we're doing this right, but we seem to be getting plenty of info.

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Thanks Jacquiel-will look up that on qca soon. Thanks Magenta-I see now-each area as in room? so 3 files with all children's sheets in basically? Or just the ones you're focusing on that week? Does that go in same thing with photos/egs of work etc which goes home? We have to start something similar but are conscious that if its their learning journey and will go home eventually then all comments need to be positive. I find it useful to note that a child is still saying 'me want one' or that they wont share the glue but I can't let parents see this can I?!

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I think you can write things like " found glue sharing difficult" or "difficulties with glue sharing", afterall you need evidence that they have not achieved that ELG or that they have, because you can then track this "shared glue more readily" or somesuch. Why would or should a parent object to that?

What you cant write is " this child is an absolute monster, completely obnoxious and always objectionable"

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Zim I highlight using a pen so I can see the stepping stones/E.L.G's that I have covered.I do this when I know all children have had ample opportunities.Ofsted were very happy with my planning.

All my laminated sheets are at pre-school. I know I have one for the writing area but it may be too basic for you as my children are age 3/4.

As Susan says, it is O.K. to state the obvious when recording an observation without being offensive. Although you have to be positive you can make statements in a tactful way i.e. "needs lots of adult support to...... or "working to wards......." If children are having difficulty in acquiring a new skill I always tell parents A.S.A.P. as they are often the best people to help their child.

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I agree with Susan and Bubble, you need to write these sorts of comments too, otherwise there would be some chn. who are making very slow progress who would rarely have anything written!

We only have obs. sheets in each room for chn. being observed that week. The files containing all obs. sheets are in our office - aren't we lucky!!

We don't keep obs. and Development books together at the moment as each member of staff has their own big pile - we tend to choose a few phrases from obs. that the chn. have used and add them to the book in speech bubbles.

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