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Children's focus weeks


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Hello all,

 

I keep reading about people planning from focus children each week in terms of PLODs and Next Steps. At the moment we use ideas/interests/WOW moments generated by all children in setting rather than focusing on anyone in particular. Just wondering if anyone could let me know how it works? Do you just have a timetable of children and work through them over the term/year? We are a 3-form entry F2 unit so 90 children in total...would you choose a number of children from each class?

 

Our planning needs a bit of a shake-up so would be really interested to see how this way of planning works for others? Any helpful formats or resources would be amazing too!!!

 

Thank you in advance...

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i'm nursery, and each of us has 11/12 children in our 'family group'. each child gets a turn for a week so once a term -ish they are focussed on.

so LL is my 'star' of the week this week. i did a long observation of him (3-5 mins), old narrative type, writing all he said and did. he just talked to me, though there were several children in the post office. he used a stamper as a microphone and took the end off and noticed the echo. was a bit embarrassed when talking into the 'microphone'. and snatched a parcel from a child as he had given it to me earlier. i asked dad what his current interests are apart from known ones and he said he likes you choose book, so said we'll make our own and i'll scribe and LL can draw the pictures. told dad what i had observed and that i have now ordered echo mikes from amazon - my kids used to have one - to follow interest in echo of stamper and that I have also planned in collaborative activities which don't work for 1 child only 2 or more! see-saw and telephone tube thing. will also play alongside in post office to show it's fun to use our imagination!!! and encourage to use timer to negotiate a turn or talk rather than snatching. So then dad fully involver too.

other staff will bring their post-it observations to planning tomorrow so we can plan in more too. so using his interests to develop interest in mark-making, which he avoids, and making relationships. and we all make an effort to watch each others' focus child more than rest of children, who of course we are also observing!! so will get snapshot of activities he goes to and what he does there and how he accesses snack bar/ what he's like with putting on/taking off coat, carpet time obs etc etc

sorry i seem to have rambled on a bit!! someone has probably got other/better ways of doing it..... i did 2/3 per week in reception - i did 2 and ta did one through week in freeflow time. don't know how this would work for you with so many though? x

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Thank you, rambling is very useful as we can begin to see how it actually works in practice. I know this is really cheeky but just wondering if you could elaborate on how it then feeds into planning i.e. do you mention LL on next weeks planning and plan a theme based on his interests, or do whole class stuff based around his next steps or just enhance provision accordingly and carry on with pre-planned topic? Or anything from your days in reception? Planning format maybe? Sorry to bombard with questions....just want to try and give it a go!!

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So this is how it works for us...

 

Every child has their next steps \ plods whatever the current favourite term is on an individual planning sheet - usually one per area but this is flexible so early on we focus much more on the prime areas. These are decided having reviewed previous observations and chatting with the key person. Once this is done I make a master list one per area of the curriculum group children with similar next steps. These are pinned to the classroom wall (in an area where parents rarely go and wouldn't loiter to read everyone elses next steps!

 

We have a loose topic the direction of which the children dictate through their play, choices, ideas etc... I do my daily plan (usually mostly retrospectively) but plan in an activity which may be adult led, adult supported or merely a resource put out for children to access which will support children in working on one of the next steps identified. This may or may not be linked to the topic.

 

For example today we had a group of children with a nursery nurse using a feelings puzzle - the puzzle itself was simple enough that they could all access it but the aim of the activity was to recognise and talk about different feelings. While this didn't fit in with our topic (Good old People Who Help Us - current interests being Police) it worked well to meet the needs of some of our children who have trouble articulating their own feelings (today they used mirrors to copy the faces and talked about when people feel happy, sad, angry, worried, confused etc...) and also those children who have trouble empathising and recognising the visual cues that show us how people are feeling. Today the Nursery Nurse "invited them" to go with her to a quiet room to do an activity but often the planned activity is in the room any and all children can access it if they want to - we just encourage those whose next step it is catering for to participate. Tomorrow I will have the feeling puzzle out again for children to revisit in child initiated time or for those who didn't go out to use it today.

 

Hope this illustrates how we do it in our school nursery setting.

 

Mel

x

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i'm afraid i just add it to room plans that key worker is in to make it manageable/easy for us all. nursery nurses find it hard if there is too much paperwork. and because we all plan together thursdays, and feedback briefly daily, it works just fine!! we jot down changes on this plan, e.g. new interests shown and what enhancements we add to follow these. also, we all comment on our children who were planned in for - how activity went etc. indoor planning attached. outdoor similar but one page. outside has much more self-selecting as we have sand etc out too. so LL activities on plans for room i'm in and outdoors too - collaborative stuff! and any child who wants to join him in activity can, except making the book, which i will do 1-1 to develop his confidence in writing.

got no stuff left from reception as was 6 years ago, and memory stick it was on broke.......... everything double-backed now!! i feel that however you do it, as long as you show you are following individual interests and building on what you have observed then that's fine. our topic is traditional stories to support communication and language - listening and attention, and literacy - reading. our children come to us with no interest in books and not knowing basic rhymes so we need to build this in to ensure they achieve the 30-50 band statements. but we will do longer if they enjoy a story, and stop if not!! may do this topic till easter if they get a lot out of it.

adult-led/supported activities are planned in to support all 7 areas, so all get coverage through term. we did goldilocks last week and i made teddy biscuits to follow a recipe. only 2 children used word 'long' to describe rolling pin (adult one), called it 'big', so i've planned in problem-solving activity to see if extra work on modelling long/short at end of week has worked!! and consolidate as well as challenge them. will just use big and small for less able. NN is doing name-writing as gone downhill since christmas and all new ones starting. other is supporting role-play as poor this week when no adult in there. and last is teaching snack bar routine to new 10. one of whom needs 1-1 there or milk ends up everywhere...........28th January 2012.doc

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Hi Littlemisspinkness,

I too am in a school Nursery and seem to have tried a dozen (probably more!) ways of working around 'next steps' ensuring that all children are catered for at some point (and I do FINALLY think that I've got my head around it!!)

What I do is: Have a medium term plan that is learning objectives for the class for that period of time - this is informed by assessment and tracking, so they will based on what a number of children need to work on (and then differentiated as appropriate), also some curriculum coverage. Like others above we have open-ended themes which the children can take in any direction they wish - we use the 'Floorbooks' approach but this theme does not take over - we follow individual interest as well. E.g. we are doing Winter at the moment but there are a group of boys into Spiderman - cutting out and making into stick puppets etc,

All the children have 2 or 3 next steps at a time - we tend to focus on one for a couple of weeks, then the next. We have found this to be much more manageable than have 6 different next steps for each child - we can keep the sheet with us all the time and really focus on these areas. We of course support children in all areas of learning but next steps focus on those areas that they need to 'work-on' most. These are added to and changed at least every half-term, usually more often. As we interact with the children we refer to the next step sheet and extend these areas where we can without hyjacking their play.

We then have 3 focus children each week who we basically spend extra time with in that week but we don't tend to plan ahead for these children. What we are trying this year (and has so far been very successful) instead of doing 'long observations' then providing something else from that observation, is to interact with the child in what they are doing, extending their learning (bringing in next steps where possible) then building on these experiences either then and there or the following day. Then we record what has happened (like in Anna Ephgrave's book).

Each week I will plan in further enhancements/changes to provision/extra support etc for individuals to support their next steps as and when it is necessary - and will record anything that comes up through the week. In previous years I have tried desperately to consider next steps 'what can I do next to support xxx?' - spending hours coming up with further enhancements to support individuals then they don't want to engage in what we planned for them (and often spent time. money etc sett-up).

We all have a next steps sheet each which we date when we have worked on a particular next step with a child - this doesn't signify that they have achieved their next step just that we have addressed it with a child. So any child who has been 'missed' is easy to identify.

Our small-group activities 'cover' the weekly learning objectives and areas are enhanced where possible and necessary to support these learning objectives.

 

I'm not sure how I would work it in such a big setting - but I have definitely found it easier to focus on a few children each week.

 

Not sure this will help, just a general overview.

Good Luck

Green Hippo x

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Hi Littlemisspinkness,

I too am in a school Nursery and seem to have tried a dozen (probably more!) ways of working around 'next steps' ensuring that all children are catered for at some point (and I do FINALLY think that I've got my head around it!!)

What I do is: Have a medium term plan that is learning objectives for the class for that period of time - this is informed by assessment and tracking, so they will based on what a number of children need to work on (and then differentiated as appropriate), also some curriculum coverage. Like others above we have open-ended themes which the children can take in any direction they wish - we use the 'Floorbooks' approach but this theme does not take over - we follow individual interest as well. E.g. we are doing Winter at the moment but there are a group of boys into Spiderman - cutting out and making into stick puppets etc,

All the children have 2 or 3 next steps at a time - we tend to focus on one for a couple of weeks, then the next. We have found this to be much more manageable than have 6 different next steps for each child - we can keep the sheet with us all the time and really focus on these areas. We of course support children in all areas of learning but next steps focus on those areas that they need to 'work-on' most. These are added to and changed at least every half-term, usually more often. As we interact with the children we refer to the next step sheet and extend these areas where we can without hyjacking their play.

We then have 3 focus children each week who we basically spend extra time with in that week but we don't tend to plan ahead for these children. What we are trying this year (and has so far been very successful) instead of doing 'long observations' then providing something else from that observation, is to interact with the child in what they are doing, extending their learning (bringing in next steps where possible) then building on these experiences either then and there or the following day. Then we record what has happened (like in Anna Ephgrave's book).

Each week I will plan in further enhancements/changes to provision/extra support etc for individuals to support their next steps as and when it is necessary - and will record anything that comes up through the week. In previous years I have tried desperately to consider next steps 'what can I do next to support xxx?' - spending hours coming up with further enhancements to support individuals then they don't want to engage in what we planned for them (and often spent time. money etc sett-up).

We all have a next steps sheet each which we date when we have worked on a particular next step with a child - this doesn't signify that they have achieved their next step just that we have addressed it with a child. So any child who has been 'missed' is easy to identify.

Our small-group activities 'cover' the weekly learning objectives and areas are enhanced where possible and necessary to support these learning objectives.

 

I'm not sure how I would work it in such a big setting

 

Not sure this will help, just a general overview.

Good Luck

Green Hippo x

 

this has given me some ideas. thanks!! i moved to a nursery setting where observation was very low on priorities and displays top priority. and very old fashioned so i'm always on the look out for ideas, especially as i was teaching reception for the 10 years before this and had no nursery experience!!

 

will trial having next steps by me at all times rather than relying on memory! and annotate/date to show i am using, and how it's going/what extras i plan in/do. i'm keeping the long observations though as i find out much more in 5 mins or often less provided it's a 'good' time and in a group of children. it's spotting the moment for that child!! and forces staff to have a conversation with parents and record this in learning journey as evedence and for parents to feel involved, but nothing onerous for them

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Your welcome sooty99! It's actually quite helpful writing it all down like this to explain to others what we do, isn't it?

Sometimes when we are spending time with our focus children we will just observe and interact as appropriate, so often the week starts with a long observation, then we move on from there. What I found with the long observations was that my staff would do the observation, (then walk away from the child!), link it to the EYFS, sometimes add a next step or hand it to me to do. Then these nexts steps wouldn't be implimented until the following week. Where as now they know that it is expected for them to try to extend the child's learning then and there or as soon as appropriate. They have the added 'incentive' of having an A3 sheet to fill for the week so one observation will just not be enough! The full sheet then consists of longer and shorter observations, conversations, sustained-shared thinking 'moments' as well as mini 'focus activities' which follow on from what the child was doing plus photos, creative pieces etc.

I have tried having 6/7 next steps for each child, however, as you've said you have to rely on memory as there are just too many pieces of paper to carry about. In the end of the day, we all do know our children well and don't really need a piece of paper to tell us what level that child is at. The next steps for me are just to highlight their 'weakest' areas (for want of a better word) or sometimes, an area that I really want to challenge them on.

I'm sure you are doing a great job!

Green Hippo x

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Your welcome sooty99! It's actually quite helpful writing it all down like this to explain to others what we do, isn't it?

Sometimes when we are spending time with our focus children we will just observe and interact as appropriate, so often the week starts with a long observation, then we move on from there. What I found with the long observations was that my staff would do the observation, (then walk away from the child!), link it to the EYFS, sometimes add a next step or hand it to me to do. Then these nexts steps wouldn't be implimented until the following week. Where as now they know that it is expected for them to try to extend the child's learning then and there or as soon as appropriate. They have the added 'incentive' of having an A3 sheet to fill for the week so one observation will just not be enough! The full sheet then consists of longer and shorter observations, conversations, sustained-shared thinking 'moments' as well as mini 'focus activities' which follow on from what the child was doing plus photos, creative pieces etc.

I have tried having 6/7 next steps for each child, however, as you've said you have to rely on memory as there are just too many pieces of paper to carry about. In the end of the day, we all do know our children well and don't really need a piece of paper to tell us what level that child is at. The next steps for me are just to highlight their 'weakest' areas (for want of a better word) or sometimes, an area that I really want to challenge them on.

I'm sure you are doing a great job!

Green Hippo x

 

thanks that's all useful stuff x

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