Assessment Strategies for Child Observation Study

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Assessment in the ECE Curriculum – Assignment 2

My Belief

I strongly believe that assessment is not just based on teacher’s observations and comments. Assessment has to be interactive, together with children and families, all of us will be actively involved in the process of documenting and analysing the information. As my school is inspired by Reggio Emilia, I also believe that documentation is important as it builds up a classroom community. It engages parents, children and teachers to think about the process of learning and adding value to the child’s learning (Seitz, 2008).

Assessment Tools and Techniques

Apart being informed by the Nurturing Early Learners, a curriculum framework, my school has also created their own set of cutting edge curriculum that will inform of the school’s programme. The curriculum focuses children’s langauge and communication skills, cognitive skills, creative expression, sensory and motor skills, and personal and social development (The Odyssey Global Preschool, 2014). The curriculum experiences promote learning of skills, concepts and content through play, where children make sense of the world and people around them, investigate the world, form and engage in active social interactions (The Odyssey Global Preschool, 2014).

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The Nurturing Early Learners have provided a framework and highlights the importance of observing and assessing children. It is an on-going and part of the teaching and learning process which includes observing, documenting and interpreting information to find out what children know and understand and plan to build on their learning (MOE, 2012). Based on the learning experience which I had planned, these are the assessment tools and technique I feel that it is appropriate to use to assess the children.

Taking Photographs and Documentation

Teachers can collect information about children’s learning and development through organised observations and documentation. Taking photographs is one of the useful ways to document down what did the child did in a particular activity. When a photograph is taken, teachers would need to reflect the date the picture was taken, together with the description of the specific activity and the learning goals or learning disposition that the child has achieved or developed (MOE, 2012).

Learning Story

The learning story approach focuses on the children’s strengths within a social and cultural context, making children’s ability more transparent and explicit (Arthur, Beecher, Death, Dockett & Farmer, 2015). The learning story sets as a basis to give credit to the child’s competency, narrating the situations when children show interest, and communicating with peers and adults when they are challenged with a task (Arthur et al., 2015). In Hatherly’s research recommended that learning stories helped families to see the literacy that is embedded in everyday experiences within the early childhood setting (Arthur et al., 2015).

When parents have the learning story, they can add comments and make suggestions to the learning story as families provides the child’s learning experiences at home. Learning stories can also be created together with children’s words, drawings and photographs and children can contribute to the analysis and future planning (Arthur et al., 2015). In addition, photographs can be added to enhance the learning stories. Carr and Lee (as cited in Arthur et al., 2015) can be a tool for sustained shared thinking as it helps children to reflect their learning and to make connections between past and present experiences, thus providing continuity of learning (Arthur et al., 2015).

Checklists

Another assessment tool I would use will be checklist. The focus area which I will be looking at will be more on the communication and language area and physical area. This assessment tool serves as additional information and a summary of the children’s development. As I have to observe a group of children, it is useful for teachers and in this case, the checklist allows me to see an overall pattern in what the children are at now (Arthur et al., 2015). However, this checklist will not be used alone. It will support the learning story and as well as the photograph documentation.

There is a combination of the assessment techniques which I will be using based on the assessment tools which I had discussed earlier. Assessment for learning is will be the main assessment technique selected. There is an on-going process of documenting and analysing after observing the children and planning for future learning experiences for the children to be engaged in. As assessment for learning is formative, the process of collecting information, interpreting the information is continuous so that teachers can plan, reflect, and evaluate their learning (Arthur et al., 2015). In this case, the learning, mainly the skills which I would like to achieve in the learning activity will be cutting, pouring of fruits, understand the steps of preparing fruit pancake and introducing other types of fruits to the children. Language skills will also be involved when they interact with each other. The children would definitely need a period of time to acquire the skills; hence, teachers will document the process and plan other activities to support the children to achieve their goals. In this case, if the fruits are slightly harder to cut, teachers can consider changing to softer fruits such as banana or strawberries.

Assessment of learning is also part of the assessment technique when the checklist is used to assess the children. The children will be observed based on the milestone checklist provided by my school. This allows me to have an insight on how many children are able to control the butter knife and cut the fruits.

Children’s Involvement in Assessment Procedure

As the learning experience will spread over a period of time, children will assess their own learning as they develop their own understandings. In assessment as learning technique, children will document their own learning and reflecting on their learning process (Arthur et al., 2015) through various ways such as drawings, showcasing their skills to their parents.

Parents Involvement in Assessment Procedure

In order to have successful collaborative partnerships between teachers and family, both parties have to make a commitment to share relevant information and are built on mutual benefit (Arthur et al., 2015). In my school setting, are involved actively in the assessment procedure and in my school, various communication methods are available to reach out to the parents.

Ongoing conversations

After the learning experience which the children were engaged in, I do share with the parents verbally and would encourage the parents to extend their learning at home. The classroom will be the place where parents are welcome in to speak to any of the class teachers on their child’s progress. Apart from verbal communications, emails and phones are available for parents and teachers to stay connected.

Pre Parent Teacher Conference feedback / Post Parent Teacher feedback

The feedback form will be sent to parents before the meet up and after the parent teacher conference. This is to better understand how the child is doing at home and how we can support the child at school.

Sharing Thoughts on their Child’s Work

When the documentation is being put up in the classroom, there will be a space for parents to share their thoughts and comments on the children’s work. These comments will then be read to the children and this created an interactive of involving parents in the assessment.

Evaluation

Vygotsky’s described learning to social interactive, rather to be taught individually (Arthur et al., 2015). Rogoff has also further argued that “interactions and relationships are the core of effective learning environments and that there is a complex relationship between learning and development (Arthur et al., 2015, p. 91.). Rogoff’s three foci lenses have helped me in understanding children’s learning. Social cultural view has to be considering when we understand the child’s learning. Children from different home and cultural context will build on their individual learning through guided participation in social interactions at the school. Drawing on Rogoff’s lenses, social cultural activity can be analysed to understand how children learn through the transformation of participation (Bartlett, 2009).

I felt that the assessment techniques used were appropriate. I am able to give critical analysis of what the children have achieved through a series of documentation and photographs. The parents enjoyed reading the documentations of what the children have experienced in this learning journey. They shared with me that pictures really helped them to understand the process that the children had went through, together with the description.

From the learning experience which I implemented, I took pictures of children being engaged in exploring fruits to cutting of fruits. Apart taking photographs of children’s completed work, in this case the pieces of fruits that they had cut, I also captured children’s action and responses when they were exploring the fruits. These were documented in the classroom where children can revisit and reflect on their experiences. As the children were aged around three years old, the photographs were used to document the children’s learning experiences will be a great way for children to learn. The children were also showed reflectiveness when they looked at the documentations. Even though some of the children are still developing their language skills, the pointed at the pictures shared with their friends. I observed that some of them commented, “I cut banana!” They enjoyed looking at the pictures and also shared their experiences with their peers and teachers.

As my school is inspired by Reggio Emilia, observations and documentation is on the basis constructing new learning for children (American Journal of Play, 2011). Using photographs will also help viewers to better understand the experience that the children were engaged in (Seitz, 2008). When photographs are displayed together with description, teachers and parents are able to see how the child has progressed through a series of photographs.

The format of the learning story has also allowed me to write the story, focusing on the child’s strengths and interest, writing down the interactions; analysing the learning that has happened in the story; providing opportunities and possibilities to follow up the child’s learning at school and at home; lastly, to hear feedback from parents.

When I was writing the learning stories for the children, I recalled on how the child interacted with peers in the learning environment, building on their prior knowledge and skill and it had helped me to understand the child in another level. This is again drawing from Rogoff’s three foci of analysis where I observed how children learn individually, with peers and the context which the child is at.

The checklist has also given me a summary on the achievement of the children’s ability and together with the documentation. The checklist has further assisted me when I wrote their individual learning stories. As I have only have a few experiences in writing learning stories, I felt that I would need more practice so that I can give better critical analysis of the children’s learning and be more proactive in engaging parents in the learning story. Through writing of learning story, I feel that I can better understand each child in my class and drawing out their strengths and finding opportunities and possibilities to further support the child.

With the space on the wall for parents to share their thoughts, I am able to hear parents’ view on how they felt about their child’s learning at school. From there, I can continue to include parents in the assessment to better facilitate their child’s learning at school.

Assess

I would improve by having a variety of assessment tools when I observing the children. Apart from taking pictures, I would definitely consider taking videos of the children when they are engaged in activities. I would also consider being more innovative in documenting children’s learning experience to create interest to the children, families and community. I would definitely assess children through combing the three techniques, assessment for learning, assessment of learning and assessing as learning.

One of the methods which I would want to improve on the assessment will be the adopting a literacy or numeracy quilt where families are encouraged to write, draw or collage on post it notes or photographs of literacy or numeracy experiences that their child engages at home (Arthur et al., 2015). From the sharing of home experiences by the parents, this provides me additional insight to plan appropriate learning experiences at school. In this way, I can build on the connection between school and families.

References

American Journal of Play. (2011). Play and the hundred languages of children: An interview with Lella Gandini. American Journal of Play, 4(1), 1-18.

Arthur, L., Beecher, B., Death, E., Dockett, S., Farmer, S. (2015). Programming and planning in early childhood settings (6th ed). Australia: Cengage Learning.

Bartlett, J. (2009). Fabric and Fanfare: Design and Ideas Technology in Early Childhood, unpublished thesis, Monash University.

Ministry of Education. (2012). Nurturing early learners: A curriculum framework for kindergartens in Singapore.

Seitz, H. (2008). The Power of Documentation in the Early Childhood Classroom. Young Children, 63(2), 88-93.

The Odyssey Global Preschool. (2014). Nursery 1 Curriculum.Retrieved March 21, 2015, from http://theodyssey.sg/nursery-1/curriculum

Appendices

Diagnostic Assessment

Age: 3 years old

Setting: Classroom

A group of five children were engaged in play dough activity. They were using the hands to knead, roll the dough. The children were given tools to manipulate. They showed interest in their favourite fruits and began to serve their food (play dough) on plate. Bananas, watermelons and apples were some of the fruits which were mentioned. They will pretend to wash the fruits, cut the fruits then to serving them.

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With that interest in mind, I would like to implement a little chef project with the topic on will be on fruits! From this learning experience, children will gain experiences in exploring more fruit choices such as dragon fruit, star fruit, strawberries etc through their senses – smell, taste, touch, sight; and finding out the different ways of preparing the fruits – mini fruit pizza, fresh fruit popsicles or fruit yogurt. In this project, children will be developing cooking skills and process while preparing the dishes and exploring different ways of eating.

In this learning experience, children will also learn about food safety and hygiene when handling kitchen utensils and be informed of healthy eating through food pyramid.

The plan that I have developed for the Learning Activity

Learning goals

Children will learn about healthy eating based on the food pyramid. They will discover the types of food eaten at different times of the day. They will also learn new fruits such as kiwi, dragon fruit. Children will gain experience being a little chef while preparing the food dishes and exploring how fruits can be eaten, as well as selling their food as a culminating event – Little Chef Day.

Skills which the children will be learning

Children will develop fine motor skills through:

  • Scooping the fruits on the pancake
  • Cutting fruits (Kiwi, Strawberry, Banana)
  • Peeling Banana
  • Spreading maple syrup on pancake

Listening and Speaking skills – Children will be sharing their thoughts in short phrases or 3 – 5 word sentences. They will listen to one to two step instructions and songs.

Math – Children will explore colours and shapes of the fruits such as banana, dragon fruit, kiwi and strawberry.

Music – Children will participate and sing to the song – Fruits

In this project, children will be developing cooperative skills as they work in small groups to present their dish. The skills that will involve during the activities include turn taking, sharing, accepting and sharing responsibility. The children will have to take turns when they take on different role on little chef day or being engaged in a task such as washing hands, tasting of fruits, cutting of fruits. They will be sharing utensils and be responsible of their task.

The children will also develop self-management skills when they handle fruits and utensils. The project also challenged their perseverance, and engagement on a task. This project also created awareness for children to understand about healthy eating, personal safety and hygiene.

In terms of communication skills, the children will be listening to instructions and to others, expressing their ideas verbally, speaking in front of their friends.

Activities

All about Fruits

Children will be introduced to more fruit options such as strawberries, dragon fruit and kiwi. They will then explore these fruits through their senses – smell, taste, touch, sight.

Children will discuss what these fruits can be made into- with the help of pictures of fruit dishes such as fresh fruit pops, mini fruit pizza, and fruit yogurt.

Children to source for the ingredients once they have decided the fruit dish which they want to create.

The Fruit Song

The children will learn a song about fruits:

Fruits are yummy

Fruits are juicy

Fruits are tasty

Just eat them go healthy

So Many colours

So many shapes

So many flavors just eat them go healthy fruits

Handling Kitchen Tools

Children will be introduced to the types of kitchen tools that they will need to prepare their dish. They will be exploring with the tools and find out the function of these tools and the kitchen safety through dramatization.

Applying information and knowledge

In small groups, children will be involved in preparing the dishes in which they have decided, and tasting it.

They will be applying the skills and knowledge, which they picked up from the first few weeks.

The skills which they will be involved in –

Pouring, cutting, mixing, decorating, washing of fruits.

Fresh Fruit Popsicles

These are the steps involved in making the fresh fruit popsicles!

  • Washing the fruits
  • Cutting the fruits into cubes
  • Placing the fruits into a mold (a plastic cup)
  • Pouring white grape juice into the mold
  • Placing an ice-cream stick
  • Freeze the popsicles for at least 6 hours

Mini Fruit Pizzas!

These are the steps involved in making the fresh fruit pizzas!

  • Washing the fruits
  • Cutting the fruits into cubes
  • Spreading cheese cream on the base
  • Placing the fruits on the base

Concluding and Culminating

Children will revisit the processes they went through looking back at the documentations displayed in the classroom. To reflect on what they have done, children will share their responses based on the key questions:

– Why is eating fruit healthy?

– What can we make these fruit into?

Teacher will record down children’s responses in LEA.

An example of Assessment Tool

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Names: Loo Si Hui (25687514) Page 1

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