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Planning For Observations


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I have been trying to organise my thoughts on how I will do observations when I start my job in September. On my last teaching practice observations were done as and when but I wanted to be more structured in planning for this. I will have two full time support staff and would like to use their time wisely also.

Can I ask if you choose a specific number of children to observe in a week and if you focus on one area of learning or even one particular stepping stone/elgs or do you simply collect evidence from all that you observe and put them into the relevant areas? Also, how soon do you start recording in the profile? As you can probably guess I am pretty clueless so any advice would be much appreciated.

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hi, i dont know if i can offer any advise but this is what i tend to do.

 

my TA and i i always equipted with sticky labels that we record any observations on. i also do some focussed observations if i an working with a particluar group.

i do not always choose a number or area to carry out observations unless throughoout the week i have noticed something. ie that certain children havent got much evidence or assessemnts or a particular area is never played in or always played in.

 

i am always collecting assessements, evidence etc for the profile and i tend to update it every half term, some times termly so that i do not leave it all until july because it takes ages.(i fill in the rpofile in opecil anyway, just incase i make a judge in a term that i cant justify in another.)

 

hope this helps im not much of an expert myslef.

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Hi

Not an expert but happy to share what we do (although always seeking a better way!)

 

I would recommend PLANNING for observations (writing down names on your daily plan) otherwise you might find that quite a few children will 'slip the net' and you have very little evidence for them to support your judgments against the Profile.

 

We have three basic type of obs

 

1. Planned observations - we aim for two children each per Child inititated sesssion, (2 sessions with a TA and CT) so by the end of the day 8 children will have a timed (2 - 10 minute) written observation of what they were doing - we then look at it and see if we can gain evidence for the Profile - it is ususally quite surprising how much you can glean! For this system we use a simple (but very effective) tick list, so you can see at a glance who hasn't been done - it's a safety net. We also tie these observations into the plan do review session so that the children observed are the ones who have planned and reviewed on that day. We write these observations on a pro forma thing that works for us.

 

2. "Catch it if you can" observations - unplanned obs that are usually written on post it stickers/stickly labels/anything to hand - usually something a child has said

 

3. Assessment obs - usually group work where we want to find out if the child can do something.

 

The Profile Guidance and CD rom are really quite useful.

 

I'd also just like to say, that we work in the real world and some days observations just don't happen.

 

Good luck!

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Me again, just read your last question about how soon. Again, through experience I would begin as soon as possible - some schools just focus on the first three points to begin with, but you might have a very capable bunch, in which case you could be looking at the other points too (depending of course on what evidence you have)

 

The thing with the the Foundation Stage is that, quite rightly, there are no easy answers, YOU will know your children best and you will know what works for your children, in your particularly circumstances/school/setting with the resources available to you and also, of course, what works for you and your support staff.

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Matilda, dont worry about getting it wrong.

You will develop your own way of doing things.

You should have ssomeone in school to help and advise you--FS coordinator, HT or deputy? or failing that an advisor within the LEA?

However, that doesnt mean that having some idea of what you want to do and develop is a bad idea. Have you seen the Vicky Hutchins books? They are very accessible and the newest one has been written since the intro of the profile.

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Haven't read the Vicky Hutchins book but will take a look when in town at the weekend.

Bungalow, I like how organised you seem and this is ideally how I would like to be because as you say there is the worry that some 'slip through the net'. I would love to see a copy of the tick sheet you use if this would be possible.

 

Thanks to all!

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We tend to carry out observations on a planned assessment basis and a catch it if you can type observation. We always have a clipboards with observation sheets in around the room so that if a member of staff sees something significant they can quickly make a note. Normally put four per page. Just serves as a quick reminder when we come to write them up. By writing something quickly, normally we can remember the situation and elaborate on it later - that's if we are not having a menopausal moment!!

 

Example

 

Name: Joe Date: 1.1.01

In playhouse Joe counted out six cups and saucers for his friends and made them a cup of tea. Handed out pretend biscuit, dropped it and said "oh dear - now it's broken in half and I have got two biscuits"

 

 

CLL PSEDx MDx PD CDx KUW

 

We then circle the areas of learning and can then post them into their profiles. (I am in a nusery so we don't use the FS profiles but one that has been designed for us by our EYDCP) If we are doing a planned assessment we can write what we want to observe at the bottom of the sheet and then write in children's achievements against that stepping stone/elg. However, I am sure you all do it similarly to this anyway but I find this format useful as it saves having to write each area of learning down and as I cannot always remember each stepping stone/elg know that I can look it up later.

 

Half termly we then put all the obs into the child's files and write them up into their profile. Any longer than this and it becomes a nightmare. It also serves as a prompt when we only have a handful on one child in one or two areas, the keyworker can then plan and look to working with that child to develop other areas through focussed activities.

 

Not sure if this is really very helpful as I am sure I am teaching my grandmother to suck eggs!! But just thought I would put my penny worth in.

Nikki

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I think its always useful to hear what others do even if its something you are aware of or do!

 

However, you shouldnt need to rewrite observations, even short on the spot observations should be sufficient as they stand, scribble and all. You can cross reference and make notes when more than one area is covered by the same observation, but we were clearly told NOT to rewrite under any circumstances! :D

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Yes, we have been told the same as Susan, you don't and shouldn't need to re-write or write up Obs - they can stand as they are.

 

In reply to Matilda (I think it was Matilda) my tick list is very basic - I'll try to copy it and also a copy of our Obs sheet (but we are in process of making a few changes to our obs sheet) Have never tried to attach things before so wish me luck.

 

Have just remembered only my tick list in on my home computer, the Obs sheet is on the sch computer. So just attaching tick list at the moment.

Observation_Tick_List.doc

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Do you ensure you have assessed each child in each area of learning every half term? Or do you try and assess each strand, for example, dispositions and attitudes etc and then tick the PSE box? Finally, do you provide evidence for each stepping stone or simply tick some off based on your professional judgement?

It seems like a huge undertaking, can't think I will have time to just relax and play with the children because I will need to be constantly collecting evidence.

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Matilda

I have a 'Look what I can do 'wall with a biro permanantly blu-taked to the wall next to it.

Each half term each child has a shaped paper and we date and write observations down. Opportunities for assessment are noted down either in my medium term or short term plan

These are for incidental observations. They can then go straight into their file where I just add area of learning/strand on afterwards. I do not rewrite them up. Being on the wall acts as an overview of where all the children are at present which is easier than several lots of papers. All adults and children can easily share in this process and can see the value of it too. It can form the basis of supporting target setting with them. It is also something the parents can read and add to as well. Some planned observations can go down on these assessment sheets too. However I do also take photos (often planned for) have a reading and sound and vocab check sheet and intend to make a number tracker. All this is flexible and I find manageable, Often the children make their own assessment sheet as a P.D activity cutting skills too. It also can then tell you if you need to do observations on specific children.

I like this as it serves many purposes at one go.

Hope this is of some use

Lynda

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I like this idea of the wall i did something similar in year onr last year and was thinking of a way of doing it in reception this year. :o

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Matilda, you do not need evidence and observations for every point for every child.

Some of your evidence will be in your head, ie what you know about that child. You will have lots of evidence about some points and not so much for others, likewise you may feelthat you have lots of evidence for some children and not so mch on others. The latter you will probably find are not acheiving, which is why you do not know that about them but you may need to observe these children more carefully to back this up.

It is very clear in the profile handbook that you do not need to have individual portfolios for every child, although obviously you will be record keeping in some way or other.

I found it easiest to have a class file in which I recorded with photos for the children thngs that we had done as a class; ie walk to the park, cooking etc. I also kept an A4 notebook with me in which I recorded things that I had seen or heard, about incidentals or about focused activities. This was all my evidence. Children had individual records for reading etc which I updated half termly as this was my school remit.

 

I know it seems daunting but you will and you must have time to enjoy, do not let yourself be pressurised by this or you will go crazy.

 

DO you not have someone in school who can help you with this?

Do try and take some time to relax and enjoy the last few days before school starts as it is also important that you are as relaxed and energised for the start of term.

Good luck.

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Thanks Susan, that was a reassuring post. I know I need to calm myself down and relax abit but I seem to have so much to do. I will have two full time support staff and twenty nine children, but they are only part time to begin with.

 

Thanks to everyone, you are all so supportive!

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