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Recording Observations, Your Opinions Pls


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Hi there,

 

I have just finished reading all 15 pages of this section of the forum and have come across many an interesting conversation about recording and noting down observations..so I thought I would ask your opinions before speaking to my boss to see what you all think..Would any of you (DN Managers especially) see any problem with me using a dictaphone to record my pre-school observations.. I had this idea the other day and thought I would see more things that were going on by simply talking into the dictaphone and writing it up at weekend rather than writing quickly, missing something worthy of noting down and then struggling to read my own handwriting at the end of the day. We have 4 focused activities a day and go outside to play twice a day for 45 mins..I thought that if it was ok I could carry it around with me at all times and then I'd be able to build up a pretty good picture of all my children. BTW I have 15 children in my group! (all of which are the freshmens from 2-3's room so are fairly new to our room in any case)

 

Any comments or opinions would be appreciated.. :D:D:D:)

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Ouch !

 

FOUR focus activities!!! When do you interact with the children? Are they FS or BTTM ?

 

Please let me know how you really manage your day!

 

With interest,

 

Sue x

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It sounds good - maybe it is something you need to try and evaluate. Oh and keep us all informed as to how it works out.

 

Lets see what other more experienced members think and we will all read and learn with interest.

 

I was wondering how you can interact or concentrate and record and think about what is happening in these activities, multi-tasking put to the test!!

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I bought a dictaphone about 4 months ago with the same intentions as you. I also had a member of staff with learning disabilities who was knowledgable about the childrens progress but was unconfident in writing observations, I was going to offer her the use of one.

Just 2 months ago our EYAT came to visit and also gave us a dictaphone to use in the preschool. ( so she obviously thinks they are ok)

 

I have not used either yet, my main reason is the time needed to write up the comments at home.

( technology does not always save time, in fact it can actually make more work-ie: what did we do before computors??? :o )

 

I really want staff to write straight into files, thus minimising their workload.

 

I may start to use them in September, possibly as a multi function recorder of observations, memo's, to do lists etc.

 

So in answer to your question. I don't see that they will be a problem except they may be more timeconsuming. I will be interested how you get on if you do use one.

One other issue which you should check is your nursery's data protection policy, it may need to state that information on children will be recorded in audible form, who has access to it, how will it be stored, remain confidential, what it will be used for, etc etc.

 

Peggy

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Do you think you may misinterpret when you are in a different environment listening and writing the obs up?/ When they are done there and then it is so spontaneous, you say what you see, I'm worrying about the hindsight issue??

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Hi wow few responses already!! To explain we use the foundation stage for planning...we have two focused activities in the morning and two in the afternoon...adult led im afraid no child initiated options :o I have been reading about people on the forum who choose to follow the child initiated path - how utterly refreshing :D:D so nice to be able to go along with what the child is interested in rather than to say this is what we have planned for you today my little treasures (sorry for the sarcasm!)

 

I have 1 big file with the FS sheets in, then a page for each child in my group with the 6 areas CLL, K&U, PSE etc..which we use to put our assessments/observations of our daily focused activities in. Then using this info I have to update my 15 development books which have various sections, hand/footprints, action photos, evidence of work and then all sections from FS eg PSE leaves parent/carer independently which I would date the month, year and sign that this was achieved. (If that makes sense??)

 

At the moment my file is too bulky to carry around so I have a small writing pad which I date daily and write my observations in. I then transfer this to my big file either when I get home from work or at the weekend...My only concern about the dictaphone was like Peggy said about

the nursery's data protection policy - information on children recorded in audible form..but I thought maybe saying to my boss that come the end of the week I would wipe the tape clean...I can but only ask..although she's not the most approachable woman I have ever come across! :D:D

 

We like a few others also have THE sheets to give out at the end of the day saying what child A has had for breakfast, lunch and tea, AM and PM activities and now thanks to a lovely questionnaire that was sent around asking for comments it was felt by some parents that there was not enough info being given to them ..so now we have an additional line at the bottom with personal comments where we say Johny has enjoyed playing in the sand and water with his friends...personally I would rather have a chat to the parent and tell them what their child has been up to..often some of the staff read from the sheet parrot fashion..what a waste of paper! xD

 

rant over..sorry went slightly off track!

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Gobsmacked :oxD

 

All I can say is you must have writers cramp at the end of each day. :(

 

I also have issues about taking files home.

 

1/ not a good work/life balance for staff

 

2/ what if they are lost, forgotten when needed next session.

 

3/ Confidentiality.

 

I confess, I took all my childrens files home to add some pictures to. Planned to work on them over a couple of nights before end of term. Yes, you've guessed, unannounced Oftsed visit, files at home. This is now on my Ofsted report, staff do not always have access to childrens development files therefore they don't know their next steps. :(

 

Peggy

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That must be so annoying Peggy! I often take things home to work on them because sometimes there just isn't enough time in the school day but I suppose at least I'd have 2 days notice. was your ofsted recent? how did it go?

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I use a dictaphone when I get the chance to do observations and remembering to have it with me all the time id one of the problems. The chidlren really love it so they we bought one for the nursery too.

If your really wnat to go down this path (and I would pratcie this first to see if it suits you), then to save typing time later I have software that converts speech to text. Its not easy to set up especially if you have a strong accent, and its not 100% relaible in conversion, but once set up it does make life a lot quicker. Its esepcailly useful if you have staff with dyslexia or other reading difficulties.

 

I think its worth giving it a go, it wouldnt suit everyone, but having a choice might me a good idea for your staff. If you have a dictaphone already without needing to invest in one then why dont you trail it for a term?

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That must be so annoying Peggy! I often take things home to work on them because sometimes there just isn't enough time in the school day but I suppose at least I'd have 2 days notice. was your ofsted recent? how did it go?

 

 

We had it in June, It was a very positive experience ( unlike my previous one) we got an overall Satisfactory but I was pleased to get a good for 'positive contribution'. Only a few recommendations and no actions :D

 

Peggy

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I was given a dictaphone to use by my head in my FS classroom to monitor a child who had severe behavioural issues. I actually foiund it very difficult if not impractical to use in the situations whenthey arose and preferred to recall later. So as Mundia suggests you would need to trial its use, I would imagine, like all things no one size fits all!

 

Observations though should never be rewritten, they should go on file in whatever form they were taken. I like to have a spiralbound notebook to scribble in and pages can be taken out and filed where appropriate later.

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I have used a dictaphone in the past and find transcribing a long impractical process but thats not to say it wont work for other people.

 

My first thought is 'what alot of paperwork' I was criticised 2 years ago by the FSP moderator for too much assessment/data and didnt have anywhere near the volume you describe. Our assessment/observations are very streamline now and were praised by OFSTED in January as effective and practical.

 

My next thought was 4 focused activities a day! Is that 4 focused activities per staff member or 4 in total?

How on earth do you fit it all in?

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Thanks Peggy. The reason I'm asking is because our LEA advisor has said we're on 'RED ALERT!' and I've read so many of your posts on here which make so much sense and show you have an excellent understanding of the FS that I was wondering how this looked to OfSTED. what on earth do you have to do to get a good?? :o

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We got a Good Kelly, but there are members who have managed a fantastic Outstanding in all areas!! Another good reason to say in touch with all these wise words of wisdom on the Forum and live up to creating the best provision we can.

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I agree Shirel the Forum is a great place to share ideas and pick up tips.

Kelly there are lots of things can effect the OFSTED 'grade' some out of our control. We got a good at our OFSTED in January and were told they couldn't award outstanding as we werent 'established' as the unit had only been running since September. Never mind it gives a target for next time.

Also agree with Peggy this OFSTED was far 'nicer' than previous experiences. Our team seemed to concentrate on confirming what had been written in SEF.

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We received satisfactory in our Ofsted Sept 2005

with 3 of the outcomes good. I was on a day off that day but after a whispered phone call from my D manger hotfooted it in to work!

I have just read through the NEG funding thread. My funding is £7.87 per child this is Lincolnshire.

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Thanks Peggy. The reason I'm asking is because our LEA advisor has said we're on 'RED ALERT!' and I've read so many of your posts on here which make so much sense and show you have an excellent understanding of the FS that I was wondering how this looked to OfSTED. what on earth do you have to do to get a good?? :o

 

 

Maybe it's just that I can 'talk the talk' but I must not always necessarily 'do the do' xD:( :unsure: xD:( :wacko:

 

Definately have your SEF prepared. :(

 

Just be you, be honest, but don't tell them things they won't find out themselves, ie: I always tend to say, I'm going to do this, and this, and this, etc, which shows I recognise what needs doing but also tells them I don't do it yet, or I only partly do something. :rolleyes:

I'm sure you'll be fine. :D

 

 

Peggy

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Good advice as always Peggy. Think if you are honest and recognise things that may not be perfect and dont try to hide anything but point them out and say this is what we plan to do to make it better.............you have nothing to worry about.

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