Over the summer, I recently started reading this very useful book. The chapter I have been reading (chaper 3) has presented some extremely valid points and information that I have found to be interesting. This sparked up a little bit of thinking…
I found this chapter helpful towards reflection of my own teaching and the strategies that could take place in the classroom. The main focus includes ‘Early Years Education’, this explores: play, the learning environment and forms of assessment.
Within this chapter the focus upon assessment really drew my attention. One of the reasons being that assessment seems to be one of the most crucial resources for progression. From my personal perspective and from observations in placement, I have found assessment to be a core tool in identifying a child’s needs and skills. Assessment seems to allow critical reflection and evaluation to take place. Which then allows the teacher to plan effectively and plan for individual needs in future practice.
During reading I gained more knowledge on the use of assessment, how it should be used and what is used for. Some of these include:
- To identify the child’s needs
- To discern next steps in development
- To evaluate programmes and impact
- To monitor and evaluate the quality within the setting
A perspective I find incredibly useful during and after assessment includes ‘Gibb’s Reflective Cycle’ (1988). This diagram presents beneficial steps in critical reflection. I have found this particularly helpful after observations!
(Also today on TEDedChat there was a super handy video with some tips on critical thinking in general! This really broke down the concept for me; presenting a process that takes place. Thankyou to Samantha Agoos! Check it out!)
Before reading, I already understood that each school has their own methods within formative and summative assessment. This seems to depend on the teaching style, the class and the individual needs of the child. I was aware of specific milestones that are presented in Early Learning Interventions (ELI) from the EYFS and requirements within the National Curriculum. I believe assessment allows you to witness the more intricate understanding of an individual child and their unique developmental journey they’re on.
Chapter 3 allowed me to understand that assessment can be used for early intervention and prevention, as well as enrichment and development to support a child. This made me realise that assessment is actually really important for early identification of issues a child may have, for example SEN/D or medical requirements.
Some forms of Assessment I have observed in previous placements include:
- Two Stars and a wish
- Traffic Lights
- Smiley face (sad, medium, happy)
- Thumbs up or Thumbs down
- Observations (free descriptive, tick chart and post it note)
- Databases, statistics (summative assessment)
I have learnt that assessment is an ongoing process, it is a continuum that allows ‘next steps’ to be identified. One main implication I found from this chapter is the importance of assessment taking place in a natural setting, one that offers real and meaningful tasks (Carroll et al, 2004:36). Staff should not assess just to meet regulatory standards, but to ensure information is gathered so that beneficial planning and next steps can be offered. Assessment could take place spontaneously or informally, it could be during a directed or adult led task as well as a free play task. It is important for the practitioner to remain objective and to record what actually takes place without being biased or influencing the child towards a specific outcome.
Assessment should be a source of enrichment, enjoyment and development!
Anyhoo’ that’s some brief points from reading! After looking at this I began to think about how I could assess in the classroom. I started to think about how I could keep track of observations as well as self-reflection from children. How could I obtain general statistics on what a child may or may not have learnt in a lesson?! Then the idea of FAB (Formative Assessment Books), ActivExpression questionnaires, Kiddicams and Twitter boards came to mind! I found these ideas insightful and engaging and I hope to research them more! I really cannot wait to try out some of these methods in future placements and to see if they work effectively!!
How I would use:
- I would obtain an average topic book that are usually available in the schools stock rooms, preferably a small to medium size.
- I would prepare a book for each child, because these fab books are clearly FAB I may bring in different types of wrapping papers, stickers and pictures that meet different interests in the classroom. For example, car themed wrapping paper, shiny wrapping paper or character themed stickers.
- I would allow children to back and decorate their books, this could be done at the start of the year during a brief introduction to D.T.
Cross Curriculum Link – Design and Technology:
I would start by introducing D.T. as a subject were we can invent and design in order to resolve, improve or create a design. I would discuss the meaning behind D.T, how it can make an impact within society, as well as some of the history behind it. Through discussion I would try to overcome any misconceptions with the children.
During this introduction at the start of the year a quick activity would be “we need to make these very ordinary books FAB! How can we do this, what could we invent, what could we do to make them fab?”. Depending on the Key Stage (adjustments would be made for younger children and the different abilities) children would be guided into making their very own plan and design. After all, these books serve a very important purpose in recording and data! A share and compare could take place in the class room as well as an example prototype of a FAB book by the teachers. Hopefully all of this will promote respect and celebration of different creations and thoughts.
I would take suggestions from the children’s ideas, for example, if a child wanted to make their FAB book ‘invincible’, I would continue to ask how they could do this, they may eventually come up with an idea of ‘by making it waterproof and colourful’. I would guide them further of what materials they could use. Within the next session I would ensure a range of resources and materials are available to make the children’s ideas a reality. The reason I’d put such an emphasis on this and create a theme behind it is to encourage children to take pride of whatever is recorded in this book. I believe by giving them the opportunity to use their initiative, creativity and take leadership of their own books would make it a whole lot more personal and meaningful towards the children. From reading and looking at the context of different theorists: Motessori, Goleman and Maslow I feel as though ownership could promote positive reactions and may be rewarding for the children.
Some examples of how the books could look below:
What the FAB books could be used for:
These books could be used for post it note style observations that may take place in the classroom. For example, if a child shows a form of progress or skill within their social, emotional, cognitive and physical aspects, the teacher or assistant could quickly note it down. This could just be a few simple sentences of what happened.
The practitioners could even write ‘objective achieved in..’ A time and a date could be documented, as well as the initials it was observed from, including a brief sentence about what the teacher observed. This can then be put in the child’s individual FAB book. The practitioners could even make targets for specific children and aim to get a specific number of fab observations done.
As time progresses the teacher could summarise and analyse next steps from reoccurring themes or absences in the childs FAB book. This could also allow children to see how far they’ve come at the end of the year, allowing them to look at all the positive skills that have been noticed.
Parents could even get involved with this. For example on some weekends the child may be asked to take their books home where a parent could write a FAB. This encourages a partnership with those who are comfortable doing so. It also allows regulatory bodies to witness a daily routine of spontaneous observations, showing that the teacher and teaching assistant are practicing their assertiveness and looking for the potentials within the children!
To gather statistics on lessons and recognise relationships between the teachers and children, ActivExpression questionnaires could take place at the end of a lesson. Activexpression devices are brilliant resources that can work in relation to software on a computer.
I have found ActivExpression to be a very flexible and lesson enhancing resource from what I’ve witnessed so far!
How I would use:
- After children are in a routine of using devices, set-up questions at the end of each lesson.
- Depending on key stage these could be very simple yes or no questions or questions that gather a little bit more information.
- Examples could be ‘Did you enjoy the lesson?’, ‘Did you enjoy the teaching?’, ‘What have your learnt?’ and ‘What didn’t you like about the lesson’, ‘what did you like?’. Adjustments could be made for varied children for example reading could be assisted and guidance on the use of the device.
- After the children have answered (this could be a routine at the end of lessons a quick 5 minute task as a form of a plenary), compliments and appreciation of responses could be given by the teacher as the information appears on the Interactive Smart Board. Trying to create a sense of enthusiasm, respect and fun!
- The information could then be put onto a pie chart or bar chart and saved into a file. This could make statistics of each lesson easily accessible and allows the teacher to reflect at any given moment.
- This could also be handy for a child to share their concerns, depending on the question. For example a child, may write ‘I found this hard’, which the teacher can then reflect on. This makes it useful for the teacher to evaluate on their own teaching and capture a childs thoughts, which then can be easily accessed for evidence.
- This could allow the teacher to review what worked, what hasn’t worked, what lessons appear enjoyable and which lessons don’t, without having a biased opinion, but having factual evidence of the children’s viewpoints.
Personal Target – Become more familiar with working the devices and creating various types of questionnaires before next placement.
Reflection – I’m looking forward to trying out this idea to see if it work successfully and whether reoccurring themes and objectives can be identified.
Within todays Digital Age and the recent transformation on ICT to Computing I believe it could be beneficial to promote different sources of computing whenever we can. Not only that, but children may have witnessed Social Media use from their families or friends, or depending on their age may even be engaged with it themselves! This is where the idea of Twitter Boards came from as a source of formative assessment came from (with a little influence from Pinterest!)
How I would use:
- Set up a display of a ‘Twitter Board’, making it realistic to the actual website.
- For children who are not aware of it, give a demonstration of a professional or classroom Twitter that is set up and explain the concept of ‘Tweets’, explain how celebrities even use this to encourage children.
- At the end of each lesson ask children to write a tweet about the lesson roughly no more that a few sentences (140 characters)
- Children could then stick their Tweet on the Twitter Board.
- Similar to the ActivExpression questionnaires, the teacher could then gather information from the childs viewpoint about the lesson and then reflect, reflect, reflect!
- To take this even further at the end of each lesson a picture could be taken of the Twitter Board, put onto a class blog so parents can interact and witness ideas from the lessons that take place
- The teacher could work with the assistants to ensure that QR’s are printed at each lesson and stuck into the children’s book leading to the tweets as a whole!
- Comments could even be added by the teacher on the blog for example ‘This Tweet made me realise… I am so impressed with what you have learnt today’.
- QR scanners can be used for regulatory bodies or members of staff to witness the reflection that takes place at the end of each lesson.
I believe this gives the teacher more ideas on the children and how they can improve in the future. For example, when marking the books the teacher may identify something about the childs skills and then looking in comparison to their tweet, can then make further connections and correlations for next steps and planning.
Twitter Board Examples:
The use of Kidicams is something I observed two years ago when working with a lovely Foundation class! With appropriate guidance and direction on how to use the Kidicams when to use them, they appeared effective and rewarding amongst children. It also allows practitioners to witness activities and skills that they may have not picked up on during free play or directed activities.
How they were used:
- Two Kidicams were avaiable in their own box at the front of the classroom. Due to routine children behaviour around these were astounding and the equipment was used appropriately. Children didn’t appear to use these just for novelty.
- With clear direction at the start of the year and reminders children were taught how to use a Kidicam (a camera designed for children to take pictures with) and when to use it.
- They were directed to use it whenever they had completed a task or made something that they were proud of during free play. Each child had their own name tag in a box by a displayed register.
- Children were able to collect their name tags when they had completed a task independently or created something they were proud of, place their name tag next to it and take a picture.
- At the end of the day the teacher was able to look at these pictures, stick it in their book and write some feedback. (Teachers also had pictures from directed tasks when they were working with children). This appeared to be a good source of evidence!
- Teachers were able to make adjustments to Early Learning Interventions and planning when enough evidence was gathered.
- This also gave an insight of what the children enjoyed doing and were proud of during free play activities.
- Feedback from a regulatory body who came in suggested that it was good for promoting independence and initiative for the early stages of the children.
- Not only this, but it was a skill children were learning in using different medias and technology!
Personally from what I witnessed, I absolutely loved the idea of Kidicams in the classroom, it offered partnership between the children and the teachers and children just seemed to thrive! Through behaviour management if there wasn’t a camera available the children knew to wait patiently and be directed from the teacher.
I believe behaviour management is an important factor in allowing children to have independence in using equipment and resources, trust should be shown towards the children and if rules are repelled against explanation and discussion in a calm and gentle manner of what the child should do can take place.