Six Key Practices for Effective Observation 1. Make observation a routine part of your work 2. Engage families in the observation process 3. Use strategies that match your purposes 4. Observe as objectively as possible 5. Document your observations 6. Reflect on and use your observations3
The Many Ways To Document • Observation notes • Work samples • Photographs, video, and audio recordings • Portfolios (traditional and online)4
Writing Effective Observation Notes Be Factual: Describe only what actually happened Be Brief: Keep it short, but provide enough detail that you will be able to remember and understand what happened Be Relevant: Include key details such as direct quotes and information about the context5
Observe Henry – 3 Years, 3 Months Old As you observe Henry: – Jot down your descriptions of what you see and hear him do – Describe what Henry does as objectively as possible – avoid subjective descriptions6
Let’s Watch! Click on the picture to view a video clip. You will need QuickTime to view this video. You can download QuickTime for free at: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/7
Review Your Observation • Are your descriptions objective? • Being objective in observing may be new to you. It takes practice to build this skill.8
Other Strategies • There are many ways to document observations. • Technology can be a big help; using a camera, camcorder, audio recorder or an online portfolio makes it much easier to document observations.9
Work Samples/Photographs Work Samples Collections of children’s work Photographs (drawings, paintings, etc.) that represent the best examples of what a child knows and is able to do at a given point in time.10
Online Portfolios (e.g. CC.net)Online portfolios are state-of-the-art in documenting children’s learning and progress11
Traditional Portfolios • Some teachers use a system as simple and easy as a three-ring binder. • This portfolio example includes observation notes, photos, and a scan of the child’s artwork along with the child’s words about the picture.12
Reminder From Lesson 3… • So when we reflect on our descriptions we need to remember that… – We observed the child at only one point in time and we need to avoid jumping to conclusions. – We each have our own “filters” (values, beliefs, or feelings) that sometimes cloud how we interpret our observations.13
Let’s Try That Again…. • Go back to the clip of Henry and jot down your descriptions of what you see and hear him do again. • Open a new Microsoft Word document and answer the questions on the next slide.14
Homework Assignment – Lesson 4 • On a scale of 1-5 (1 = easy and 5 = hard); how would you rate your FIRST observation of Henry? • Was your second observation of Henry easier? Why or why not? Explain your answer fully. SUBMIT YOUR ASSIGNMENT VIA THE LESSON 4 LINK IN THE DROPBOX.15
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