Assessment, planning and evaluation in Playcentre


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This booklet is the result of a group committed Playcentre whānau who worked on developing their understandings and ideas of what assessment, planning and evaluation in Playcentre involves. This guide provides some possible ways to engage in more meaning and manageable assessment.

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Assessment, planning and evaluation in Playcentre

  1. 1. Playcentre pakiwaitara Weaving our stories, learning together Canterbur y Playcentre Association 1
  2. 2. This resource is the collaborative work of Playcentre people in Canterbury Association who have dedicated their time and energy striving to understand the possibilities of assessment, planning and evaluation within the Playcentre context. These understandings are fluid and will change over time, but the intention of the resource is go guide others in their journey. The ideas and perspectives of many people are captured in this resource, but I would like to thank a few who were instrumental in developing it: • Alex Ireland (Canterbury Playcentre Association) • Anne-Marie Mullis (Canterbury Playcentre Association) • Eleanor White (St Albans Playcentre) • Keryn Davis (UC Plus) • Kim Tenebaum (Landsdowne Terrace Playcentre) • Kirsty Brown (Canterbury Playcentre Association) • Michelle Marshall (Rolleston Playcentre) • Nikki Wellby (Southbridge Playcentre) • Rachel Hill (Canterbury Playcentre Association) • Robbyn Madden (Somerfield Playcentre) • Sally Couper (Canterbury Playcentre Association) Dalene Mactier Canterbury Playcentre Association © Canterbury Playcentre Association 2010
  3. 3. Contents Learning through stories 3 Assessment for learning 4 How do we assess children’s learning? 6 Documentation 8 Stories that grow 11 Individual children’s stories 12 Five steps in observing children 13 Growing children’s stories 14 What about Learning Stories? 15 Writing Learning Stories 16 An example of a Learning Story 17 What about profile books? 18 Collaborative learning 19 Growing collaborative stories 20 An example of a collaborative story 21 Adult reflection stories 22 Example of a reflective story 23 The review story 24 Self Review Board 25 Wise practice at Playcentre 26 Glossary 27 References 28 Storytelling is the thread which is woven deep in our lives, our conscious, our humanity. It has the power to bring understanding amongst the peoples of the world. Tell and listen. Antonio Rocha 1
  4. 4. Stories are the medium through we can communicate meaningfully with each other. Our wisdom, our intuitive knowing is imbedded in the stories we tell. Just after our need for food and even before our need for love, we have a need for story. Storytelling is the oldest form of communication. The first thing people do upon meeting each other is begin telling stories. A wise teacher once said, “The shortest distance between two people is a story.” Another teacher was asked by his frustrated students one day, “Master, we ask to hear the truth and all you tell us are stories.” The Master smiled and replied, “The shortest distance between a person and the truth is a story. “ Stories invest our lives with meaning, they develop and express our creativity. They help us to laugh at ourselves. They give us the strength to face life’s difficult moments. They connect us more vitally with ourselves and each other and they turn ordinary moments into extraordinary ones. “If there were no stories there would be no world because the world is made up of stories,” said a child when asked the question. “What are stories?” Think about it. We create with our stories. We imagine what is possible, we make up a story about it. We bring that story into existence. Our words, our images are just that powerful. According to brain/mind research, we organize information in story form. It is how we make sense of the world around us. And it is how we communicate that understanding to another. Stories allow us to bypass the linear and access whole brain learning. When I tell you a story, I let you into my world. I cannot tell you who I am without telling you a story. Stories illustrate the text of our lives. They go beyond facts into feelings. They engage the whole of us--our minds and our hearts. By storying my life, that is, by telling about the incidents that give my life meaning I make sense out of it. I begin to connect the dots of my experience and as I do, gracefully, artistically, memorably, I invite you to go inside and begin to connect your own dots to make sense out of your own experience. (Gabriel, 1999) Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi. With your basket and my basket the people will live. 2
  5. 5. Learning through stories Introduction Stories are a powerful way to reflect on and develop our understandings of the world and to share our knowledge with others. In Playcentre we use stories to show how children and adults learn. Stories might be written down as learning snippets, Learning Stories, group stories and reflection stories. Often the stories will be told or captured in a photo. Regardless of the type of record, we recognise that stories are a powerful way to share our knowledge about what children and adults are learning and how we can support their learning; as well as reflecting on our practice and finding ways to improve. At Playcentre all the stories are connected to each other. Individual and group assessment and planning, reviewing our own practices in self review and reflective journals – are all part of the collective story of the quality of our centres. The intention of this booklet is to show that connections between the smaller stories grow the bigger story. This booklet show possibilities rather than recipes. Within a socio-cultural context each centre will find assessment practices that will work for them. Some centres might do a lot of documentation, while others might rely more on telling, than writing. These practices will change over time as the community change. Whatever it looks like, it has to be manageable for the Playcentre community and it has to be meaningful in that it affects children’s learning. The focus in this booklet is to use assessment tools and practices that will uncover possibilities for children’s learning, rather than cover all children. It discusses possibilities to do so for individual children as well as encourage children to learn collaboratively. While there is no set standard for good assessment practices, there are some principles that make for wise assessment practices. These are captured on page 26 under the section ‘Wise practice at Playcentre’. Finally remember that this booklets sits next to Te Whāriki, Kei Tua o te Pae, Ngā arohaehae whai hua/Selfreview guidelines for early childhood education and other resources from the Ministry of Education. Kei pai to raranga! Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Want to make a point or raise an issue? Tell a story. Janet Litherland 3
  6. 6. Assessment for learning What is assessment? Mary Jane Drummond (1993) quoted in Kei Tua o te Pae defines assessment as: ‘The ways in which, in our every day practice, we (children, families, whānau, teacher and others) observe children’s learning (notice), strive to understand it (recognise), and then put our understanding to good use (respond).’ According to Mary Jane Drummond’s definition of assessment, it requires us to: • Observe children to carefully listen to children to see what they are interested in, what goals are they setting for themselves and what ideas are they trying to make sense of. • To understand children’s learning we need to have some knowledge about how children develop and learn. • To respond requires us to take action; to plan an action to affect children’s learning. • To do this in every day practice rather than once a term at a planning meeting. When we observe children Te Whāriki encourages us to take a holistic view of the child, to: • Focus on the child’s strengths and interests rather than the gaps in the child’s learning (credit model opposed to a deficit model). • To broaden our lens to notice how the child’s skills, knowledge, strategies, attitudes, working theories and dispositions compose the child’s learning identity. • To see the child as a competent and able learner. The Ministry of Education defines effective assessment as: • • • • An everyday practice that involves noticing, recognising and responding to children’s learning. Formative in that it effects learning and teaching. It requires knowledgeable practitioners that understand children’s learning. It includes and actively involves children and their whānau/families. ( ) Why do we assess at Playcentre? • To create a community of learners where adults and children, Playcentre members and whānau/families learn together and negotiate what learning is valued in their community. • To help children to find their passions and follow them. • To help children and adults to view children as competent and able learners, who have good ideas, who can problem solve and make decisions about their own learning. • To grasp what children are striving to understand so that we can help them to make sense of their world and achieve their goals. • To make children’s world wider, more complex, more compelling. 4 Assessment is a process of making sense and of understanding children’s learning.
  7. 7. Assessment and planning in Playcentre Playcentre is a unique setting and assessment and planning will be different from other settings. Our uniqueness bring both strengths and challenges to assessment: In Playcentre we have a rich learning community where children and adults work together. The gap between teaching and the whānau/families disappears as whānau/families are the teachers. The community comes into the centre as the whānau/families who forms the wider community participates daily in Playcentre. Children feel secure and have a strong sense of belonging as they work alongside their whānau/families and therefore are willing to take risks in their learning. Assessment sits within the socio-cultural context of the community, society and culture. For every child there is at least one adult at the centre who has expert knowledge about the child and the context in which the child’s learning is taking place. Playcentre is an extension of the home as whānau/families come together at the centre. Relationships usually extend beyond the Playcentre gates and often children will have a strong relationship with at least one other adult (than their own parent) both inside and outside the Playcentre. The mixed aged settings in Playcentre offer unique opportunities for tuakana-teina relationships and ako where children from different ages and adults take the roles of teachers and learners. Playcentre is a community of learners where adults and children share their different perspectives, knowledge and skills to learn together. Low child to adult ratios provide unique opportunities for adults to observe children and develop an understanding of their learning; and engage in in-depth discussions. The conversations of children’s learning on session are often continued at home when Playcentre members socialise together. As a volunteer organisation the requirement of documented assessment can sometimes be overwhelming. Each centre has to work at finding a way of making it manageable and meaningful for their community. As experts of our own children, assessment can sometimes become invisible as we notice, recognise and respond instantly and intuitively to our children. The challenge for Playcentre is to make these actions visible for the wider community. Playcentre is vulnerable to a wide range of perspectives on important learning, and it is an ongoing challenge to develop a shared understanding of the learning that we value. 5
  8. 8. How do we assess children’s learning? How do we assess? Assessment is about telling the stories of how children learn. Assessment is described as a process of notice, recognise and respond (Kei Tua o te Pae Booklet 1, 2004). Every day on session (and at home) we will notice many things children are doing, recognise some of that as learning, and respond to some of what we recognise. This process of notice, recognise and respond entails mindful observation and listening on our part to understand what children are learning. Much of our assessment will be informal and undocumented. At Playcentre undocumented assessment will involve conversations between adults, adults and children and children and children. Documented assessment includes a range of narrative records, photos, videos and examples of children’s work. Documented assessment allows us to make the learning visible, reflect on and revisit important learning and invite multiple perspectives. Documented and undocumented assessment involves a process of observing, listening, thinking, reflecting, speculating. Effective assessment requires us to understand how children learn and develop and the knowledge and skills to use teaching techniques to support and encourage children’s learning. Daily assessment routines Playcentres with effective assessment practices have clear assessment process and daily routines that all the members are aware of. Daily assessment routines might include: • Before session briefing meeting discussing the learning opportunities and possibilities for the session, who’s on session and how to support and extend the children. • An end of session discussion with adults and children to discuss what happened on session, what learning was noticed and how this can be extended to the next session. • Regular meetings to discuss more in-depth what and how the children are learning and what the adults can do to support their learning. • Opportunities for adults to document in a variety of forms, for example learning snippets, photos and Learning Stories. 6 It takes a village to raise a child … and it takes a community to educate children.
  9. 9. Principles of formative assessment • Formative assessment shapes and informs learning. • Learning is responsive and process orientated. The content is less important than the process. We focus on nurturing dispositions and exploring working theories to help children make sense of their worlds. • Learning is complex, uncertain, multidirectional and multidimensional – maybe it is this, maybe it is that. There are multiple possibilities and pathways. • The view of the child is one of competent and able. We use a credit model to assess the child. • The principle of ako is central to formative assessment. We are all teachers and we are all learners. • Formative assessment takes place in everyday contexts. It closely reflects real life. Ordinary moments offer extraordinary possibilities. Each Playcentre will define what is quality assessment in their own setting. • Responding to children’s learning may require us to continue to listen, or to have a conversation, to scaffold, celebrate and consolidate, or to offer a provocation. • We aim to make the learning visible through narrative assessment, by sharing our stories of what the children are learning. • The child’s perspective is central. ‘Teaching is mostly listening, and learning is mostly talking.’ • We seek multiple perspectives through dialogue with others who might include children, other members, whānau, parents, and family. It is an interactive subjective process. • Assessment is a continuous process. Learning can be as brief as a few moments, or continue for several months. • Assessment is inclusive of all children, regardless of age, gender, culture or special needs. • Assessment can be ‘on the hop’, retrospective or forward. • The purpose of assessment is to support children’s learning to become wider, more secure and/or more complex. • Assessment for learning implies that we have some aims or goals for our children’s learning. Within the context of Te Whāriki these goals are to provide: ÌÌ ÌÌ ÌÌ ÌÌ ÌÌ Interesting environments where children can feel at home (Belonging – Mana Whenua). Trustworthy environments where children will thrive (Well-being – Mana Atua). Challenging environments where children can be stretched (Exploration – Mana Aoturoa). Environments where adults are listening so children share their thinking (Communication – Mana Reo). Collaborative environments where children can learn through working together (Contribution – Mana Tangata). 7
  10. 10. Documentation Why do we document? Documentation helps us to make visible the valued learning in our community. By documenting the learning we find important, we create opportunities to affect children’s learning. We may have different audiences in documenting children’s learning: The children When children see their learning documented they know that their work, ideas and thinking is valued. The documentation encourages them to reflect, revisit and assess their own learning and to repeat the task or adjust to get a different outcome. Children can assess their own work by asking for their photo to be taken or their story to be written, use the camera and select examples of work to be included in their profile book. Whānau/families When we document children’s learning we can help whānau/families to recognise the important learning in seemingly unimportant moments. Documentation explain the learning to help the whānau/families understand how children learn through play. Highlighting the learning within the Playcentre context may support whānau/ families to recognise the learning at home and respond to it. Ourselves Documentation allows us to reflect and grow a deeper understanding of what children are learning, and adjust our actions to improve outcomes for children’s learning. The Playcentre community Documentation in the Playcentre community can be used to start conversations about children’s learning, reflecting on collaborative learning, building relationships and seeking connections; and making planning decisions for children as individuals or in groups to extend their learning. The wider community Documentation highlights the learning that is valued at Playcentre and helps the wider community to understand and value play as children’s work. When we document how children learn through play we can help others to change their lens to see children as competent and confident learners. Lillian Katz said “ ... while we overestimate children academically, we underestimate them intellectually.” (Katz, 2009). The Playcentre community needs to negotiate how much they will document and how they will go about it. This might look different in each Playcentre setting. 8
  11. 11. How do we make the learning visible? We can use a wide variety of methods to document children’s learning: • Learning snippets (anecdotal stories) • Learning Stories • Transcripts • Photos • Photo Stories • Comic strips • Profile books • Video stories While the whole Playcentre community is responsible for documenting children’s learning, centres need inspiring curriculum leaders to make it happen. • Learning artefacts (examples of children’s work) What do we document? Choosing to document is a progressive filtering process: Every day we will notice many things, we will recognise some of what we notice, we will respond to some of what we recognise and will only document some of what we’ve recognised. When we choose what to document, we focus: On the complex learning where documentation might help us to understand the learning in order to make planning decisions. Celebrations of the child’s learning and development – reaching milestones and trying new things. Learning events to look back on for adults and children to notice progress. Stories where we notice children striving to make sense of their world by refining their working theories. Following patterns of learning such as schemas to widen and complicate their exploration. Following children’s passions and interest to strengthen their learning. Stories that make children’s emerging islands of interest and islands of expertise, possible selves and learner identities visible. 9
  12. 12. Notice, recognise and respond Using notice, recognise and respond as a framework for documented assessment in Playcentre Documentation of learning can sometimes be a challenge in Playcentre. While the bulk of what we ‘notice, recognise and respond’ will remain undocumented, this concept can provide us with a possible framework to ensure that we keep documentation both manageable and meaningful. Notice Children’s learning is primarily documented every day on session by writing learning snippets (one or two line stories) and photos. Photos are a powerful tool to capture the stories of children’s learning. Recognise The learning community meet on a regular basis to analyse the learning snippets and photos for individual children and the group. The aim is to find trends, patterns and passions in children’s learning? Looks for the links between the stories. Perhaps there are stories of interest? Or persistence? Or developing working theories? Or making sense of the world? Respond Organising the child’s profile book into trends, patterns and passions and add the photos and the learning snippets accordingly. As the documentation grow, ‘islands of interest and expertise’ and possible selves will emerge, and the child’s story and identity as a learner will become visible and we will be able to respond to the child in an authentic way. Some of the learning snippets and photos might lead to more detailed forms of documentation such as Learning Stories, learning posters or learning story books. How do you make the learning visible in your Playcentre? 10
  13. 13. Stories that grow Weaving the stories together Formative assessment is a process. It does not have a beginning, nor an end. The purpose is always about improving learning outcomes for children. Evaluation is linked to our assessment practices. Evaluation is about looking critically at our own and centre practices to improve on how we support children’s learning. In our everyday practice these two aspects together build up the bigger story of assessment, planning and evaluation. It includes • Records of individual children’s learning. • Records of children learning collaboratively as a community. • Records of adult reflections that flow from our work with children. • Records of spontaneous reflections and more in-depth review (ie self review) of how we work with children and how we support their learning and development through play. The challenge for Playcentre is to find and show the links between the different parts of the story and to make it visible for the community. Building stories How do you make the learning visible in your Playcentre? • We can build stories about children’s learning over many sessions, including many perspectives. • The four W’s and an H question is a helpful tool in building stories: ÌÌ What happened here? ÌÌ Why is it important? ÌÌ Who was involved? ÌÌ When does it happen? ÌÌ How can we support/extend this learning? 11
  14. 14. Individual children’s stories Documentation for individual children will include stories about how they use their skills, knowledge, learning strategies, dispositions and working theories to make sense of their world. Documentation that captures the essence of the child will create a sense of who the child is as a learner. Adults often zoom in and focus on assessing children’s knowledge and skills, but Te Whāriki invites us to zoom out to use a holistic lens and focus our assessment on dispositions and working theories. While knowledge and skills can be assessed with a certain amount of certainty, focusing on dispositions and working theories requires us to feel comfortable with uncertainty and being willing to speculate. Documentation becomes a vehicle for speculation about what children are learning. Stories about individual children’s stories are built over time and become rich when we include many perspectives and a variety of documentation: • Photos • Learning snippets • Learning artefacts • Learning Stories • Group stories • Videos, and beyond. To support individual children’s learning we need to know them well and understand their thinking. In order to ensure that we know our children on a deep and meaningful level it’s a good idea to take time out from time to time to observe children with the intention to get to know them and understand their thinking. Doing so in a systematic way might be helpful to ensure that our assessment practices are inclusive of all children – even the quiet ones and the babies. However, having a systematic approach to observing children to ensure we ‘know’ all our children, should never stop us from following children’s passions and interests as they emerge. How does your documentation capture the child’s identity? 12
  15. 15. Five steps in obser ving children Ordinary moments are precursors to more in-depth investigations, they reveal the child’s thinking and learning, they change the adult’s thinking about the image of the child. In reality there are no ordinary moments but rather extraordinary moments for both the child and the adult (if the adult takes the time to value them). The five session plan to observe a child’s learning provides a framework to slow down and listen with care. Session 1 Before you begin your observation journey, write down what you know about this child: How does this child make sense of the world? Who is important in this child’s life? How does this child approach new experiences? What fascinates this child? What puzzles this child? Spend time on the session (2030 minutes) observing without talking. Write down what you observe. Look for strengths and interests; something you did not notice before. Discuss your observation with a peer and the child’s whānau. Talk about something new you learned or excited you. Write your reflections and discussions down. Session 2 Observe the child again. This time do so with a camera. Again 30 minutes, no talking only listening with the lens of the camera. Afterwards unpack the images. What did you capture? What did you learn new about the child? What was the child learning? How was the child learning? What strategies did the child use? What do you think the child is trying to make sense of? What do you think the child’s goals are? Look through the documentation in the child’s profile book. What are the links between what you observed and what is documented in this child’s profile book? Discuss what you’ve learned about this child with a peer and the child’s whānau. Consider how you can get feedback from the child about his/her learning? How could you present your observation in a way that would support the child’s learning on the next session? Perhaps write a Learning Story, make a digital photo story, a story board? Think about how you can share it with a child who is not using language? What do you need to do to ‘listen’ to this child. Write your observations and reflections down. Session 3 Share your observations with the child. Document your discussion with the child. How did the child respond? Did your documentation affect the child’s play? In what way? What else did you learn about this child? Discuss what you’ve learned about this child with a peer and the child’s whānau. Talk about that something new you learned or excited you. How can you respond to extend the child’s learning? Do you need to scaffold for the child? Can you offer a provocation? How could you present the materials differently or in a way that would support the child’s learning on the next session? Write your observations and reflections down. Session 4 Respond to the child by scaffolding, offering a provocation or presenting the materials differently or in a new way and observe and document again with the camera. Again unpack what you captured or documented through the lens of the camera and any notes. Continue documenting with the materials that have been added. Think about whether the materials changed the child’s play from your first observation? How? What did you learn? What were the ah-ha moments for you? What was the child learning? What was your role? Discuss what you’ve learned about this child with a peer and the child’s whānau. Talk about that something new you learned or excited you. Write your observations and reflections down. Session 5 Observe and document the same child again. Rethink, reflect, and reinvent the image of this child. Again unpack what you are learning about who this child is as a learner. What strategies did you see the child using as he/she worked? What did the moment mean? What was the child trying to make sense of? When finished revisit your very first thoughts on that preobservation of this child. How had your thinking about this child changed? Lay the images from each day out. Look and think about what changed in your mind from day to day using the images as a way to revisit and rethink. What were you looking for? What was the new thing driving you to keep 13 watching?
  16. 16. Growing children’s stories Lauren loves being at Playce ntre, but still prefers to stay close to me. She finds it especially hard now that I’m coordinating a session. Encou rage her to join in with others. Dalene, 7 June 2004 Ella found a piece of wrapping paper and said she wanted to wrap a present, but didn’t know what she could wrap up. Lauren said she will help Ella and she suggested that she could wrap up blocks. The two of them went off to find blocks to wrap up. It’s a big step for Lauren to spontaneously join in with other children’s play. Dalene, 26 August 2004 Lauren, Eve and Sara are making drawings of their discoveries on the moon. Lisa, 17 September 2004 I put charcoal out to make drawing and asked Ella if she has ever done charcoal drawings. Lauren said she will show her how to do charcoal drawings. Lauren and Ella don't usually play together. For Lauren being able to take the role of teacher helped her to work and play with someone new. Dalene, 9 August 2004 Lauren played together with the other children today with the parachute. She is starting to join in with group activities more often. Nikki, 13 October 2004 Grace, Eve, Sarah, Ella and Lauren worked together to put on a show for us. Mary, 12 December 2004 14
  17. 17. What about Learning Stories? What is a Learning Story? • Learning Stories are narrative records of children’s learning, based on the framework of Te Whāriki. It is line with the principles of Te Whāriki and the five strands provide a structure for the stories. ÌÌ Mana whenau/Belonging: Taking an interest ÌÌ Mana atua/Well-being: Being involved ÌÌ Mana aotūrua/Exploration: Persisting with difficulty ÌÌ Mana reo/Communication: Expressing a point ÌÌ Mana tangata/Contribution: Taking responsibility • The Learning Story format was developed by Margaret Carr. • Learning Stories are credit based – they focus on what the child can do. • Our socio-cultural context – location, people, culture – becomes visible through Learning Stories. • They highlight the child’s learning dispositions, working theories, strategies, skills and knowledge. • One aspect of a child’s learning could be foregrounded while another aspect can be backgrounded. For example a story might focus on the child’s working theory (foregrounded), while persistence is backgrounded. • Learning Stories can be quite short stories or several episodes of learning linked together. Why write Learning Stories? Everyone enjoys a good story. Learning Stories are a powerful tool to make important learning visible, so that children, families and coordinators can foster ongoing and diverse learning pathways for the children. Who writes Learning Stories? At Playcentre both undocumented and documented assessment is a collective responsibility of the Playcentre community. It is for the centre to negotiate how many stories will be written. At some centres more experienced members support less experienced members to write stories. The focus should be on the process, rather than the product. The question is not how many stories should we write, but how effectively are the stories supporting our children’s learning. Learning Stories capture the extraordinary learning in the ordinary moments. 15
  18. 18. Writing Learning Stories How to write Learning Stories? There are three parts to a learning story – story, analysis and what next/possible lines of direction. The story [Notice] The story is written retrospectively. The story (what we noticed) is a description of the child’s learning and the context in which the learning took place. Describing the context of the story helps the reader to understand the importance of the story. What makes a good Learning Story? Think for a moment about the elements of good story: • Good stories usually take place over time, sometimes days or months but the time can be condensed. • Rather than minuting every detail, just the main really important events are included. • Details about the context and background to engage the reader are included. • It describe actions, feelings and interpretations (Hatherly & Sands 2002). The analysis [Recognise] In the analysis you try to make sense of the child’s learning. Ask yourself: • What are this child’s goals? • What is the child trying to make sense of? • What patterns of learning are visible? • What theories are the child making sense of? The analysis sits in the context of the principles and strands of Te Whāriki. What next? [Respond] In the ‘what next’? you ask what the adults need to do to support the child’s learning? To make this child’s learning deeper, richer or more complex? How can the adults support the child to reach her goals? Make sense of his world? You might need to scaffold for him to enable him to succeed. Or you can choose to provoke further learning by wondering out loud, looking at a book, bringing an interesting object in or sharing your story. Or you might encourage higher level thinking through supporting the child in developing his theory. Or you might encourage an in-depth investigation through questions and provocations. Or you might simply choose to consolidate and celebrate – opportunity to master the new skill through practice. Or continue to observe and discuss to develop a deeper understanding of the child’s learning. How do we support people writing? Group writing together 16
  19. 19. An example of a Learning Stor y Teaching others Lately Lauren really enjoys playing board games. Today she asked me to play the shopping list game. I was busy with someone else and said I will join her when I’m finished. When I came back she has organised Eve, Sarah and Zane to play. They giggled while they changed the rules of the game to suit them. Lauren told me with great pleasure that Zane won. She said “I thought I was going to win, but Zane did!” What is important here? Lauren took responsibility for the group and organised a board game. She took great pleasure in helping Zane to understand the rules of the game. I think this was a first for Zane. He prefers to be outdoors exploring. She negotiated with other children and they changed the rules. Later they changed the rules back to the original rules. What next? Lauren is very aware that she is now the oldest. She enjoys taking responsibility and we can give her more opportunities to take responsibility for the group. She has come a long way since the time that she did not want to join in with group activities! 17
  20. 20. What about profile books? Why do we have profile books for children? Profile books are a documented journey of children’s learning. It shows how children have grown and developed over time, and progress in their learning. It is compelling evidence that the children are competent and confident learners. For profile books to be used effectively they need to be accessible to children – both physically and intellectually. What should be included in profile books? To create an authentic picture of the child’s journey at Playcentre, profile books should include a rich variety of children’s learning, for example photos and photo stories, learning snippets and stories, Learning Stories, transcripts of conversations, working theories, reflections, questions, drawings and other examples of children’s work. How can we use profile books? It can be used as a communication tool where adults and children can look back, revisit and reflect to consider opportunities and possibilities for the child’s learning and make collaborative decisions about where to go next. While profile books are more often organised chronologically, organising it according to ‘islands of interests’ or ‘islands of identity’ – trends, interests and passions, can help to make the links between visible learning and therefore support the adults in responding to children’s learning and supporting them to develop ‘islands of expertise’. Who is responsible for profile books? It is for the Playcentre members to discuss who is responsible for keeping profile books up to date. However, it has to be a collective responsibility, rather than just the coordinator, supervisor or curriculum team’s responsibility. Who do the profile books belong to? The profile book ultimately belongs to the child, and the adults in the centre should respect this. Children should be involved in the decisions of what to put in their profile book. Do children read their profile books on session? 18
  21. 21. Collaborative learning Why do children need to learn to work together? Children do not learn in isolation, they learn in context of their relationships with others. While it is important that we notice all the children and respond to them individually, it is also important to see their learning in the context of their relationships with others. A framework for collaborative learning ‘Notice, recognise and respond’ provide us with a framework to support children’s learning in groups: Notice • Notice the trend, interest or passion. • Reflect on the documentation over time – learning snippets, Learning Stories, photos. • Observe the children. • Discuss the possible learning with the adults and children. Recognise • Strive to make sense of the children’s learning and understand their goals. What are they trying to achieve? Why are they fascinated with this? What is this interest really about? • Discuss further with adults and children to deepen your understanding. • Seek expert views. Do a literature review. Respond • • • • What do the adults need to do support this play or exploration? What do we need to change in the environment to support this play? What provocations or experiences can we provide to the children? How can we use documentation to promote the continuation of this exploration? Reflect and revisit How did it go? What did the children learn? What did the adults learn? What could we have done differently? Where will we take this next? Making the learning visible To support and extend a group interest it is important to make the interest visible to the wider community. This can be done in several different ways: • Talk about it. Word of mouth is very powerful. Tell the children and adults about it. Ask their opinion about where to next? • Document the interest in a visible manner – poster size photos, posters with photos and text, large captions on the wall prompting ideas about the interest. Centres with quality practice will have children working together, sharing and discussing their ideas to be creative and problem solve. • Use email, online forums and blogs. • Discuss in meetings with children and adults. 19
  22. 22. Growing collaborative stories Lauren, Jack and Zane were digging in the sandpit and they had a very big conversation. Lauren asked Zane: “Are you still digging? You will be digging for ages!” Zane answered Lauren: “I’ve been digging all day. I’m digging ... a hole down ...” Jack asked Zane: “Are you digging to the bottom?” Zane said: “Yes, I’m digging to the bottom.” Lauren said: “I’m older than Jamie.” Jack said: “I am too. I just had my fourth birthday.” Jack said to Lauren “Hey you have a blue and blue spade.” Lauren looked at her metal spade and said “Yes there is blue under there and there ... I’m digging your sand.” Jack answered: “No that is not my sand, this is my sand.” How can we encourage our children to work together more often? Liz, 16 February 2004 We played with the parachute today and everyone had to work together, trying to keep the ball on the parachute. Erin, 3 March 2004 Today the children played with the ‘bus’ Instead of asking an . adult to pull them, they decided to pull themselves. it took a lot of team work to make it work. Ka pai! Marie, 20 March 2004 Lauren, Eve, Jack and Mark wanted to set up the challenge course. Everyone had different goals - Lauren wan ted to balance, Mark to jump and Eve to climb. After some negotiation and a lot of patience from Jack they worked it out and set up a challenge course that satisfied everyone’s needs. Erin, 2 May 2004 20 s story Following on Monday’ Eve and play, Lauren and show. decided to put on a a stage They wanted to build everyone for their show. Soon d ticket was involved. We ha builders coordinators, stage course and managers and of performers. Erin, 2 May 2004
  23. 23. An example of a collaborative stor y Making it work Jamie (3½) was playing with the fire hose. He had the one end in the water trough and the other end in the tree, pretending to put out a fire. One of the adults wondered if the water might actually run through it if they put the gardening hose in on one end. Matthew (7) jumped at this idea – he quickly put the hose in on one end and asked who will turn it on? Zane (4½) was busy digging in the sand, but left everything and offered to turn the hose on. Mark (4½), Jack (4½) and Lauren (4½) joined them and waited excitedly for the water to come out at the other end ... but nothing happened! After waiting for the water to run through for a while, they started thinking about why the water didn’t run through and making plans to get the water to run through. Someone suggested that Jamie manned the water trough and held the hose to run the water into the fire hose. No water! Someone suggested that they lift the hose on the other end. They tried it, but it didn’t work. Jack put a ladder against the tree to check if the water was running through. I asked “What are you doing here?” Jack responded “There’s a big fire in the tree. We have to put it out.” Every now and the children shouted excitedly “It’s coming! It’s coming!”, but alas, no sign of the water coming through the hose. They took turns climbing up the ladder to check if the water is running through. Lauren climbed up a couple of times saying “Excuse me! Let me have a check!” After some deliberating, they decided to jump on the fire hose to help the water run through. Mark, Jack, Matthew and Lauren all jumped on the hose together to pump the water through. Still nothing happened! An adult suggested that it might work if they put the hose a little lower in the tree. They quickly organised the hose lower down in the tree and started working again. Matthew put the gardening hose in on the one end of the fire hose, while Mark, Jack and Lauren checked the other end. Matthew shouted “Is it coming through?” Mark answered “No ... but it’s trying!” “And then the water came through. They all jumped up and down excitedly, shouting “It’s coming, it’s coming!” How can we support this interest? The children were very involved and it was wonderful to watch them all working together. You could literally hear their brains ticking over! The weird thing is at the end of the session we had a real fire in the next door paddock! We had to phone the fire brigade. We heard the fire alarm, saw the firefighters arrive, saw a lot of smoke, watched the firemen putting out the fires, helped to spot hot spots and had a chance to talk to them when it was all over! I’m sure this will lead to more firefighting play and a really good opportunity to talk about fire safety. 21
  24. 24. Adult reflection stories The stories of our work One of the joys and the challenges of being involved in Playcentre is that every day brings something different. What worked yesterday, might not work today. What suited last year’s families, might no longer suit the families we have now. What supports one child’s learning, might not support the next child. So how do we deal with this challenge? We learn to practice reflectively by: • Committing to continuously learn about what we do, and then think about what we and others do, how we do it and why we do it, and • Thinking critically about our own practice and identifying our own strengths and challenges to build on it. Reflective practice requires us to think deeply about what happened. We use all our knowledge about learning, teaching, development, relationships and cooperative processes involved in the event. We identify the aspects of our own practice and analyse why it worked with the people involved and think about what did not work and how we can do it differently in the future (O’Connor & Diggins, 2002). Which stories will you write down? By writing stories of your practice down, you will be able to reflect on a deeper level and engage in a more indepth investigation. When documenting, write down: • The context – who was there, what happened, when it happened, why it happened, how it happened. • Your feelings – how did you feel before, during and after. • Consider your knowledge about this. • Investigate your values. • Recognise your assumptions. What are your hot spots? How is this challenging your beliefs? (O’Connor & Diggins, 2002) 22 The purpose of reflection is to allow the possibility to learn through experience. Everyday on session you will enjoy many successes, some dilemmas and sometimes struggles. All these offer opportunity for reflection and growth.
  25. 25. Example of a reflective stor y 28 March 2009 20 May 2009 I noticed some of the children are not included in the play. Today Sadie and Phoebe were playing together and when Sarah wanted to join they were not keen. Jenny (adult) intervened and said “We’re all friends and we can all play together.” I disagree with the idea that we’re all friends. While some children’s idea of friends might include everyone, others have more complex ideas of what it means to be a friend and saying ‘we’re all friends’ is not true, and to be honest slightly patronising. As an adult I choose my friends, should children also be allowed to choose their friends? Today on session we had another scenario of a child being excluded and I decided to try the deconstruction technique. I had a reasonable discussion. 7 April 2009 I spoke to Jo (from Woodville Playcentre) today about the dilemma of children excluding others from their play. She felt that we should deal with this behaviour in a very firm way – similar to how we will deal with physical hurtful behaviour such as biting or hitting. She suggested asking them to let others join in and if they do not agree to then be firm about saying they can no continue their game unless they alow the child to join in. I’m not sure about this? It feels a little harsh ... 2 May 2009 I went to a Course 4 workshop and we discussed the dilemma of children excluding others. One of the students suggested we get the book Our house by Michael Rosen to help children understand that it is not okay to exclude others. We also discussed ‘deconstruction’ as a teaching technique. I think I will give it a go. together with everyone, even though we might not be friends. Can we expect the same from the children? 20 July 2009 [I stayed calm and instead of justifying I deconstructed] At tonight’s meeting I discussed Vivian Paley’s ideas and suggested that we implement her ‘You can’t say you can’t play rule. There was some resistance (sharing my initial feelings that we’re not all friends), but we agreed to focus on ‘working together’ rather than ‘everyone are friends’. Me: In what way is Jemma like a baby? 27 July 2009 Me: Jemma would like to play too. Sadie: No she can’t! Me: Why won’t you let Jemma play? Sadie: Because she is a baby? Sadie: She cries when we play. The conversation continued from there and while I didn’t really solve anything it did give me new information about Jemma. I have noticed that Jemma is often upset. Does that cause her to be excluded by her peers? We need to think about how we can support her to regulate her emotions. However, that still does not solve our problem with exclusion. 6 June 2009 I went to another workshop today and the facilitator suggested I read You can’t say you can’t play by Vivian Paley. 12 July 2009 I read Vivian Paley’s book and she totally shifted my thinking! While I always felt children have a right to choose who they play with, Vivian raises the issue of does children’s right to choose their friends override other children’s rights to be included? Thinking about this I realised that Playcentre is a public place and while we as adults are at Playcentre we will work Today we had another scenario of ‘Jemma can’t play’ to which I replied ‘At Playcentre we can all play together. Who can Jemma be?’ and to my amazement after a brief resistance, they found a role for Jemma and Jemma was happy! It seemed like being able to continue the game was more important than keeping Jemma out! 4 September 2009 It’s been a few weeks now since we’ve implemented Vivian Paley’s rule of ‘You can’t say you can’t play’ and I’m amazed how smooth it went. It is as if the children just instantly accepted the rule. Almost as if the confusion was more with different adult understandings and the moment we had a shared understanding, the children accepted it too! Once again it shows how important it is to have shared understandings. 23
  26. 26. The review stor y What is self review? Self review tells the story of the quality of our practice. It is a deliberate and ongoing process of finding out how well our practice enhances children’s learning and development, and what we can improve on. The focus of self review is to develop a shared understanding and work towards a common goal to transform our practices to improve the learning outcomes for children. It can be both planned and spontaneous. Some reviews might be highly complex and in-depth, while others will be much less complicated. Why should we do self review? • The purpose of self review is always to bring about positive outcomes for (and with) children and their learning. • Self review creates a culture of inquiry; a culture of asking ‘how can we do this better?’ • In Playcentre we can use the self review process to define quality for ourselves when we ask the question: ‘What will it look like if we are supporting our children to be competent and confident learners?’ • Self-review closes the gap between what we think we do and what is really happening. Who is involved in the self review process? • Self review is most effective when it is a community activity. • It requires one or two people to take leadership, while other members of the community can move in and out of the review process. When should we do self review? • Self review should be an ongoing process. • Self review can be both a spontaneous or an annual planned process as part of the centre’s strategic plan. • We should use the self review process to think ahead of time. A useful review process is outlined in Ngā arohaehae whai hua / Self-review guidelines for Early Childhood Education, Ministry of Education (White, 2007). “... it has been my experience that where services are willing to embrace a systematic process which frees them up to play with their own ideas and to challenge assumptions about ‘quality’, meaningful, systematic inquiry will be achievable in an ongoing manner.” – Jayne White 24
  27. 27. Self review board Quality indicators: What we would like to see: 1. Children working collaborative on big projects. 2. Group interests being sustatained over sessions. Focus question: o How effectively d n e support childre w ? to work together What exa m working t ples of children ogether d id you see today? What k within: tly Loo urren are we c doing? g atherin G data at’s view: Wh t Expert abou n written bee this? hout: Look wit other What are ng? oi centres d Action plan to be implemented: • Actions to improve the knowledge, and change the competencies and attitudes of the adults. • Actions to better use the environment. • Actions to provide learning opportunities for the children. Making sense (trends and issues) • Adults don’t know how to support socio-dramatic play • Plenty of resources need organising Document, reflect & review 25
  28. 28. Wise practice at Playcentre What would we see if we were effectively noticing, extending and responding to children’s learning? • The adults at Playcentre have a shared understanding of assessment, planning and evaluation processes as a collective responsibility of all Playcentre members with the leadership of a few members. • The Playcentre is a community of learners where children and adults revisit and reflect on children’s learning. • Children’s learning is being analysed and adults are speculating about what children are trying to make sense of, what their goals are, and how they can support them. • Adults get together before and after sessions for a brief time to discuss and reflect on children’s learning. • The adults are enthusiastic about children’s learning and often engage in planned and spontaneous discussions about children’s learning. • Adults get together regularly for more in-depth discussions of children’s learning. • A rich variety of assessment tools are being used. • Documentation is visible for adults and children and provoke discussion about children’s experiences. • Documentation include a wide range of perspectives of both adults and children. • Documentation is used to identify trends and patterns in children’s learning and share this understanding with the learning community. • Planning revolves around children’s emerging interests. • There is evidence of continuity for children’s learning, as children’s interests are sustained over different sessions. • Children contribute to their own assessment. • Links between stories show progress and increasing complexity in children’s learning. • Children’s profile books are used as a learning tool to extend children’s learning. • Group stories show children’s collaborative learning in social context. • Adult’s strengths and interests are respected too. • There is evidence that adult’s role with children is regularly evaluated and improved on (self review). 26 The purpose is always about improving learning outcomes for children.
  29. 29. Glossar y Assessment Stories were developed by Margaret Carr. The process of gathering and discussing information from multiple perspectives in order to develop a deep understanding of what children know and understand, and how they apply that knowledge to their world. Learning story books Dispositions Strategies that children acquire and employ to support them in their learning. Dispositions are described as ‘habits of mind’ or ‘patterns of learning’. Story books compiled for children showing their learning, eg board books and picture books. Learning strategy Narrative assessment Evaluation Assessment that is documented in a story format. Assessing and appraising the effectiveness of the teaching practices. Possible selves Formative assessment Profile books Assessment that takes place during the teaching and learning process. Group stories Stories that focus on a group of children’s learning within the social context of their everyday experiences. Islands of expertise A collection of knowledge, interest, and activity around a specific focus (Crowley & Jacobs, 2002). Islands of identities A strong identification with a specific view of oneself, influenced by social and cultural experiences. Islands of interest A strong interest with a specific focus – academic, social, dispositional, moral or spiritual. Learner identities A learner’s knowledge or view of themselves. Learning artefacts Examples of children’s work or their learning, for example art work or a photo of a construction. Learning snippets Short one or two line stories describing specific learning anecdotes. It is also referred to as anecdotes or ‘magic moments’. Possible selves are our imagined future selves. A documented collection of children’s learning. Reflective journal A documented collection of adult reflections and learnings about their Playcentre practice. Reflective practice The action of stopping and thinking about how we do things, with the aim to learn and improve. Reflection stories Stories of our teaching and children’s learning with the aim to analyse and strive to understand the learning. Self review A systematic approach to reviewing and reflecting on Playcentre practices. Schemas A recurring pattern of play and learning. Video stories Stories of children’s learning and play captured on video. Working theory An understanding of the world based on the current, knowledge, beliefs and experiences that is used to explain and predict the world. This understanding is fluid and is refined over time. Learning Stories Stories of children’s learning that is based on the dispositional framework of Te Whāriki. Learning 27
  30. 30. References Crowley, K & Jacobs, M. Building Islands of Expertise in Everyday Family Activity. Available: http://mlc.lrdc.pitt. edu/mlc-05a.pdf. Last accessed 7 January 2009. Gabriel, M. (1999). Learning and Growing Through Stories . Available: childhood/gabriel.htm. Last accessed 10 September 2009. Hatherly A. & Sands L. 2002 ‘So what is different about Learning Stories?’ The First Years: Nga Tau Tuatahi New Zealand Journal of Infant and Toddler Education Vol 4 (1) pp 8-12. Markus, H & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist. September, 954-969. Ministry of Education. Kei Tua o te Pae/Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars. Ministry of Education. Ngā Arohaehae Whai Hua/Self-review Guidelines for Early Childhood Education. Ministry of Education. (1996) Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa. Early Childhood Curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media. O’Connor, Angela and Diggins, Cathy (2002). On Reflection. Reflective Practice for Early Childhood Educators. Lower Hutt: Open Mind Publishing. White, J (2007). Systematic inquiry as evaluative activity. Self-review in early childhood education. Early Education. 42 (Spring/Summer 2007), 26-29. 28
  31. 31. What is Playcentre? Playcentre is an internationally recognised early childhood organisation unique to Aotearoa New Zealand. It began as a parent co-operative during the 1940’s to support families and promote new developments in early childhood education. The New Zealand Playcentre Federation formed as a national organisation in 1948 by providing parent education, equipment and facilities for quality early childhood education. For more than 50 years this voluntary organisation has met the changing needs of families and their communities, and today remains highly active in New Zealand’s early childhood education sector. Playcentre is a non-profit organisation which is managed cooperatively by the parents of the centre. The parents collectively share running of the individual sessions and are also responsible for the organisation and administration of the centre. With families sharing responsibilities and decision making, Playcentre brings a sense of belonging and community. The members of the centre are responsible for the management and governance of the centre as well as the teaching and learning of the children. Playcentre philosophy? Playcentre philosophy is based on a few core beliefs about how children learn: • Parents are the first educators of children, and this is enhanced in Playcentre as both parents and children learn and grow together. • Playcentre views children as people who are strong and capable, who learn through play and who are competent to make their own choices about how and where to play. • Playcentre acknowledges Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document of Aotearoa and strive to work within a bicultural framework. Parents as teachers • • • • • Parents are children’s first teachers. Playcentre believes that children benefit from their parents playing an active role in their education. Playcentre sessions are run cooperatively by Playcentre parents. To accommodate the whole family, Playcentre offers mixed age group sessions. Parents are valued and they can choose to stay on session with their children when they are not rostered on for a Playcentre duty. • Playcentre offers a free adult education programme to support Playcentre parents in their roles as parents and first teachers. • Parents support their children’s learning through extending their play. Children learn through play At Playcentre: • • • • Children learn through active exploration in a rich learning learning environment. Open ended activities offer children the opportunity to be creative, problem solve and make choices. We offer a self-choice programme where children can choose the activities that they are interested in. We offer a rich environment with a wide variety of learning opportunities and we constantly reflect and discuss how we can support children in their learning and help them to sense of their worlds. • We strive to offer sufficient challenge to engage them in their learning. • We believe that a long-term consequence of this philosophy is that children grow up as adults who can make their own decisions, direct their own lives and maintain positive relationships with others. For more information see: 29
  32. 32. Playcentre pakiwaitara Weaving our stories, learning together In this booklet it is discussed how to keep assessment, planning and evaluation meaningful and manageable by focusing on the stories about children and adult’s learning, through: • Using a variety of documentation tools. • Using a notice, recognise and respond framework. • Building relationships by becoming familiar with others’ stories. • Building stories over time. • Connecting children’s individual stories, collaborative stories and reflection stories, to show the bigger picture. Canterbury Playcentre Association 17 Buchan Street, Sydenham, Christchurch 8023 P O Box 7787, Sydenham, Christchurch 8240 _ _ Whanau Tupu Ngatahi Families growing together 30