Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

Observation Help Please


Guest suziees
 Share

Recommended Posts

Guest suziees

Hi all

 

As the owner/manager of a preschool i am finding it harder and harder to support the staff with ways/methods of observing and recording information on their key children.

 

now i know many of you will think our problem is not a problem but here goes!!!

 

The mroning runs very fast, time escapes us constantly and the staff are telling me that they cannot gather enough info for each of their children.

they ahve approx 8 children each, some who only attend 2 days each week and others who attend more often. age range from 2 - 4 at present.

 

i am also a keyworker (so hands on) and i grab snippets here and there, do obs when i can and usually by the end of the year i have enough info. but they seem to be struggling with it all.

 

what would be helpful wpuld be some great ideas of easy info gathering that maybe i havent yet thought of?

 

i also use photos an awful lot to document development stages, we do obs, we use post it notes for quick reference, and each worker has a book for notes on each child, we also pass on info, so if i see a child doing something they havent before i will jot it down and pass on to the relevant keyworker.

 

any ideas?

 

 

regards

 

suziees

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Suziees

You have beaten me to it. We are having a purge on observations at the moment. We seem to go in real fits and starts. We have stickit pads all round the place and things get noted then staff go off the boil.

I was wondering how people organise their observations. Is it child based or stepping stone based? Do you give staff an allotted time each week? Do you have specific activities that you observe?

We, like you, have children in on different days and some are 2 days others ar 3 etc. It makes life difficult to say a certain member of staff to observe their keyworker group on a Monday as they won't have all their children in on that day.!!!

I am tearing my hair out at the moment trying to find an easy and organised method of doing this.

Linda

PS Sorry I couldn't help Suziees!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We are having same sort of struggles at our pre-school. We have recently changed the way we do things. In the weekly planning document I detail/roster one member of staff to plan each day (although everyone observes all the time anyway :-)lol), this is done on a rotation system so if you observe on monday one week you observe on tuesday the next week and so on, so eventually all staff will see all children a couple of times a term. Staff observe on the stepping stones planned for that week, and also anything else they see around them. The person on Obs duty has no other responsibility that that session only observing, although inevitabley they do end up getting side tracked sometimes. To write the observation on, we use small bits of paper with a chart on detailing name , date, stepping stone, observation, learning area.

 

Observations are then collected through the week in a container to be read by the person doing the planning at the end of the week, so we can pick up on anything particular that needs to be followed up on next weeks planning. Then they are filed in the childs folder to then be taken by the childs key worker and inserted and noted into the profile.

 

We also have recently done a matrix (in excell) with all the childrens names on and all the stepping stones in all the areas, when a obs is completed in a particular area a check is made in the relevant box, so that all staff know which children have completed a particular stepping stone/ or need to focus on an area. We did this because we found that we were duplicating observations and particularly photographs for some children. And were making more work for ourselves.All the staff observe all the children not just their 'key' children.

 

I'm not sure if this helps as we haven't had our ofsed yet and I'm only new to all this planning and profile buisness! So we may be doing it hopelessly wrong! I hope not though, any thoughts gladly recieved.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hi

 

what i am about to suggest sounds like hard work but once up and running works really well. I have implemented this since november and it comes from my accreditation officer.

 

We used the stepping stones from the foundation stage file and made an individual play plan under the 6 elgs. each 1/2 term we highlight certain stepping stones that will fit in with our topic over a 2 yr period. We then have sheets with slips on which say the goal we are observing, name of child and most importantly the date (i can send you copies of these).

at our staff meetings when we do our short term planning for the week a member of staff observes what activity we are doing and write on these slips all the children that they cover doing this goal. these slips are then cut up and given to the keyworkers to date against thier IPPs (so in the childrens files they have the evidence and dates.

(any other observations that are noted from children but not on our list for observing that 1/2 term are put on post its all colour cordinated so we know which term is what(eg this 1/2 term is green so highlighted in IPPs and post its green).

 

I know this may sound complicated but honestly its not once you have your head round it and its in place.

 

We are finding it really easy now and it realy does work.

 

If you need further explanation or examples let me know. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After the children arrive one keyworker chooses 1 of their children to observe throughout the morning on each of the learning goals. When I do the room plan I have an activity for each of the learning goals. Sometimes connected to a theme, sometimes connected to a group of childrens schemas. I find a stepping stone within the 6 goals and the keyworker will focus on this. I work my way through all the stepping stones and mark them off on a large group list. In between the keyworker notes them down on a list in the childs folder.

None of the staff like doing observations including myself.

So it is hard to motivate others to enjoy doing them. You cannot give children all your attention when you are recording what they have just said. Imagine holding a conversation with an adult and having to record it in the correct collumn. Or if you sit alongside a child and try to ignore them whilst recording that is not portraying a good image either.

I enjoy it when I open during the school holidays and can listen and speak to the children without having to record it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the Nursery school that my sons attended one child was chosen each week to be the fruit monitor and they would wear a badge. That child was then targetted by every member of staff throughout the nursery in which ever areas the child visited over the week. It was possible to see child's preferences at any time and to observe what learning took place etc.

At the end of the week every member of staff had a collection of observations about one child to internally record and report to parents on.

Although this was some time ago the nursery in question still operates this system and the profile evidence etc is collected in this way.

It works for them. And children enjoyed/ enjoy the special attention and priveleges they get that week without knowing why!

 

Susan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest rhodessj

Hi Suzees & Others

 

Our group has "focussed" activities several times per week in which the staff are supposed to choose an ELG and record obs on all children attending the activity. The problem we have is that 2 staff get bogged down in recording information that has nothing to do with the ELG in question... They also both insist on "encouraging" all the children in the group that day to do the activity - and have a tick-list of names!! Much as you may struggle to get information on a particular child on a particular topic - if they don't choose the activity, there is little value in the obs.

 

The other problem we have is that our staff take it in rotation to do the planning, and I find my children don't get specifically planned for unless I mention it several times just before they run off with the planning folder!!!!

 

When I take an observation, I try to do a narrative type and follow the child around as much as possible (though inevitably, you get sidetracked). I have observed many children (not only my keyworkers) and have discovered you can gather a host of information relevant to a lot of different ELGs in this way (unless of course you have a really unco-operative child!!). I did one on Thursday - child booked in for 3 sessions per week, only one of which is my work day; she's attended about 8 times since September and leaves this September... I worked with her for 1.5hours and gathered information in almost every area. Before working on her, all I knew was that she would prefer to stay in the sand all day - in fact, I found that she worked with the sand, dough, craft, mathematics and large physical...

 

I like Jo & Halli's ideas; but whatever system you have, I think you'll discover some staff like it, some don't and some will be better at it than others. Personally, I love it and find the whole thing fascinating - just the staff that cheese me off!

 

If you have one staff member who seems good at it, or at least enjoys it - why don't you try to allocate her specifically one day per week? If all other staff members are made aware that she's doing this for everybody's benefit (not least the children!), they may take up the challenge and try it themselves - you could try a system that incorporates both ideas (matrices, tick lists, post-its and full-on 1hour obs on each child). We have 35 children in our setting, so to do one observation on each child would only take a couple of months.

 

Hope you sort it out soon; and if anybody has any cheery ideas to sort out my staff let me know (I don't own a shotgun licence)!

 

Sandra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest suziees

hi hali and all who replied

 

i am glad its not just me then!!!! all the ideas are great, i just feel you need extra staff most of the time to be able to free up someone for obs.

 

i know loads about the children in my own group and the rest of the children, most of the children i could say yes they know that or this, but its gathering the evidence to support a persons claims that becomes the prob.

Same old story, paper work paperwork......takes us away from what we should be doing.

 

i do think observations are useful mind you and important, if we didnt have so much other paperwork at the same time!!

 

i told staff that they could try choosing 1 child from their group each day and carry out obs, use the post it notes when they see something when not observing directly. its the way i find is better, otherwise its all such mayhem.

 

will try some of these other ideas you all suggest and Hali can i ask for more info on your method please?

 

Suziees

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi

 

it doent work out badly as when we plan a member of staff who is not doing any thing imparticular does the obsevations....

so we usually have one set of obs done in our 1st freeplay session and another set in our 2nd freeplay session....

 

if its an ob that needs to be done in either singing, milk time or story we just make quick notes on paper then transfer them to the ob sheets....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everbody for the ideas! Am going to have a shot at working out a matrix on Exel some time next week-inbetween everything else of course!!

Linda

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Good book

 

A Practical Guide to Observing children

Carole Sharman, Wendy Cross, Diana Vennis

ISBN 0-8264-7238-9

 

about £12

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use sticky labels instead of post it notes and then I stick them straight into the correct area of learning in the child's file. Another idea is to print the learning intention on a sheet of stickers to ensure that you complete one for each child.

 

I went on an observation course ran by Ros Bayley (who was fantastic) and she recommended a brilliant book which I have and it is full of fantastic, practical, do-able ideas: Vicky Hutchins, Observing & Assessing for the Foundation Stage profile.

 

I teach reception, so it is obviously different and I teach in the Channel Islands, so we don't use the profile, but when I do an observation, although I have a focus from one of the Areas of Learning, I still include and cover most of the other areas if there is evidence.

 

One of the ideas in the book I suggested, is to make a sheet with a space for a photo and divide the page into the 6 areas and write what has been covered for each of the areas, you then add the photo when it has been printed.

 

Hope that helps :D

 

Shelley

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In our Nursery we target a child a day and make observations on him/her throyugh the morning. We don't use learning objectives or ELGs as these are just observations of the child and not assessments. At the end of the week I sort out the postits and plan activiites that would address the nedds of these chidlren.

Our LEA has advised us not to get bogged down by too much paperwork and note to note down the 'wovs' :o and 'oows' xD of children. I fill in the profiles once a term.

The staff find it easier to note down everthing they see about the child being observed as they find they are not having to make assessments. This is also giving them the opportunity to observe the way in which children access the different areas of the nursery.

My unqualified TA finds this easy to undertake. Hopefully their enthusiasm continues .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Leo,

 

What lovely, sensible advice from your LEA! :D That's similar to the way we work ( I'm in the pre-school Unit of a DN) and I agree it makes life much more managable, as well as the planning really reflecting the needs of your children at that particular time.! the staff don't get too 'hung up' either :o

 

Keep up the good work :)

 

Sue :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Everyone

It is really great or not great as the case may be to know there are others struggling with doing observations. We have plastic holders around the room with small pieces if card and a writing implement in them to record observations. like others we have a blitz every so often. at the end of the day we talk about what we have seen but unfortunately the written observations don't reflect the amount of knowledge we have about the children. We are going to review our methods of making observations and one suggestion was that we each had certain children to observe . My main comment about this was that staff would become too focused on their own children that if they saw another child doing a "wow" thing it might get missedl Any comments ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I work in a reception class and am struggling with the whole observation thing too, so it's nice to read what everyone else is up to!

Myelf and my TA both use class lists to note obs down when working with focus groups, but it is the more focused observation I am not sure of.

We have the LEA coming in soon to moderate our profiles and I'm worried they'll tear us apart for not doing properly :o . Does anyone use a prepared sheet which is quick to comlete and easily transferable to the dreaded profiles?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome Thomas,

I had the same fear for a while, and really fought against having a keyworker system for that very reason. But, we tried it a couple of years ago (the keyworker system) and it's very effective. We don't just concentrate on "our" children, but it certainly takes the pressure off having to complete records for 36 children. There are five of us, and we split them between us, now. I'd highly recommend it! As well as the "catch-as-you-can" observations, we choose one child to observe each session, and each member of staff usually has a comment to add either during or at the end of the session. It's also helpful if a child has a particularly close relationship with one member of staff and not with others. H/she can often give much more detailed observations on that child, whether or not the child is in their keyworker group.

 

Welcome too, to Sally. :)

When you say focussed observation, do you mean of one child?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As an Area SENCO I have found that settings who have adopted the keyworker approach are providing a very good service to the children, like you say children develop good relationships with their keyworker and parents/carers, they are more than equipped to provide good support as they know their children well.

 

Our team are all having keyworker training to enable us to support key workers in our designated settings.

 

Also it's part of the recommendations laid down in the Victoia Climbie and Every Child Matters documentation and thus recognised as good practice

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi everyone

it is good to get some feedback. One of the comments we have had from some members of staff is that they can't work with agroup and write observations. i know it's not easy but we all have to find a balance somewhere and it is trying to give staff owenership of the ideas. Anyway it is Monday tomorrow and I am going inwith renewed vigour and enthusiasm.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Helen,

 

Yes, by focussed, I do mean the individual observations of children, usually for PSED.

Actually I have chatted with a few people today and got a few ideas which I am going to try out this week, so if anyone wants a copy I would be happy to email them. There is an observation sheet, a parent helper/TA recording sheet and a focused group activity sheet.

 

Sally xx

 

Got some bad news today; OFSTED are coming in the last window of this term AAARRRGGGHHH!!! :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Phew!!! Thought it was just us having trouble fitting in ob's. We note anything and everything throughout the week on index cards (or scrapes of paper!) then we use a highlighter pen to mark off on the record sheets when we are sure a child has reached a particular 'stone'. This way was given to us by our EYP teacher. Finding time to do the highlighting is the problem we have although we would like time to do more varied ob's much more often.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)