Group Work. Using randomly selected ‘talk partners’ to enable students to work with someone they might have not worked with before - Encourage the students to draw on the reading in their responses. Each pair to then join up with another pair and share ideas. The groups to identify one person to come up to the whiteboard and write their ideas on the board. Whole group to reflect on ideas presented. Then compare with next slide.
Most important and ongoing use of observation is to plan for learningWhen looking at barriers to learning this might include a focus on the child but would be looking at the environment too and how this could be changed to support that child/ren’s learningObservations can also help us to see things from the point of view of the child. They can help us to understand their perspectives and how they are learning. Compare with the list created by our group – what else have we thought of? Have we considered these points?
The first version of the EYFS placed observation at the heart of teaching and learning. Through observation teachers and practitioners gain valuable insights into children’s learning abilities and needs. Through observation we can understand more about children’s interests, which can then inform effective planning.
The statutory framework for the EYFS maintains a commitment to observation. Here it is associated with formative assessment. Formative assessment is an important part of the teaching and learning cycle. We will be exploring that further next week.
We see observation in the context of the planning cycle. We start with observation – gaining valuable information about the capabilities of children. We then use this information to inform our assessments which can then be used to support planning.
Observation can also be used to support teachers to reflect on practice, identify gaps and consider developments to practice. Without evidence from observation it is difficult to engage in the process of reflection.
Through observation, teachers are able to meet many of the Teachers’ StandardsS2 – observation is used as a way to know children – to be clear about their abilities and then use this to inform planningS4 – observation can be used by teachers to reflect on their own practiceS6 – observation can support formative assessment
Narrative Observation This would be the type of observation you would do when you are observing a particular child or group of children in order to gather information about their learning. During a non-participant narrative observation the observer would not interfere with the learning (unless something dangerous is happening) or interact with those being observed. You would note language used writing verbatim if possible, body language, involvement with task, approach to task,length of time on task, misconceptions etc…Timed sampling With timed sampling the research records whether certain behaviours occurred during a short time period. A checklist of behaviours is drawn up. Time is divided up into short segments, for example a 2 hour sampling period maybe divided into 5 minute intervals. eg involved in activity, on taskBehaviour is checked off during each interval.Event samplingA child is observed over a timed period say a day half a day or a week and each time a particular event occurs it is recorded together with context and results (ABC) typically looking for behaviour issues eg temper tantrums, conflict etcTracking observation particularly useful in Early years when free choice is available. A plan of the room is constructed and then the child’s movements are mapped onto it. So can see which areas visited. Need to write a few notes about length of stay and what occurred to be really useful. Information from tracking observations can tell us a lot about how the learning environment is being used. It can tell us about children’s learning preferences and individual interests. Observations of a particular area eg role play, maths corner; are they used; are they becoming tired; what areas of learning are seen? This information can help teachers to reflect on the appropriateness of the environment – what needs to be changed/adapted? What is working well? Why? Can this information help to develop another area. Participant observations. While teaching and playing you can make participant observations – ie observe while doing very useful immediate feedbackOn the spot observations this is where you note something down as it occurs eg child spends 20 minutes absorbed in construction play, child write name for first time. Ie something noteworthy occursChecklists used to assess children against milestones or to monitor progress against set targets. Little detail about how the child has approached the learning. Remember that not all observations will be written down. Teachers are able to hold some information in their heads (although this comes with experience!). However, it is important to build up over time a record of observational information that can be shared more formally and used as a tool for reflecting on, and planning for, children's learning.
Avoiding previous knowledge to take overNON-PARTICIPANT if possibleIt is important to record objective facts – and avoid making judgements rather than focusing on the evidence in front of you. Observations are important forms of evidence which should be factual.
Planned observations typically involve the three steps above:1. First there is an objective and this might be just to find our more about what a child does or how an area is used etc2. Followed by the observation itself3.Typically this will be followed by some reflection and interpretation of the findings – this is your evaluation. What have you found out about the child through this observation? 4.And finally a decision on what to do next – e.g planning for further observations or planning a particular activity/ session to suit the child’s learning, interests etc
Using the Siren DVD, Reception Group: Target child technique. Watch the complete uninterrupted sequence (the beginning of the dvd). You might want to play the dvd from the very start as it sets out some information about the purpose of observation and details about this sequence. I would not recommend watching the target child sequences as this is focussing on the use of a different method of observation and might confuse the students. The complete uninterrupted sequence at the start of the dvd is ten minutes long. You may want to watch a shortened version. If so, I would recommend you start the observation at 5 or 6 minutes and watch to the end. But if there is time it might be worth watching the whole sequence. Before you start the dvd sequence, go through the narrative observation format with the students. Note the important information to include in an observation. Some of this has already been filled in for the students – but normally they would need to think about completing all of these parts of the observation. I have not recorded the date or time for the purpose of this practice observation, but the students should understand that this information is important as observations are used as evidence to inform assessments and therefore the date of the observation is crucial. Also, the time might be interesting. If observations at a certain time of day always highlight something about the child (i.e. they don’t seem to engage with activities that are at 11:30 am) this might present a pattern – i.e. that the child is hungry before lunch and therefore not demonstrating their full potential. Highlight the aim of the observation – what is it we are hoping to examine by carrying out this narrative observation – what information are we focussing on. Here we are looking at the PSE (self confidence and self awareness) Early Learning Goal - are the children able to speak in a familiar group, talk about their ideas, choose resources they need for their chosen activity and say when they need help. Ask students to make notes as they watch the observation. They can use abbreviations and bullet points. Remind them to record facts – not their judgements of what they are watching. Recording language, body language, will provide factual information. It may help the students to focus on one or two children for the purpose of the observation. Child B and Child C might be interesting to observe. However, Child D might also be interesting to focus on (because this child is very quiet in the group). Once they have completed the observation, ask the students to work with a talk partner, sharing their observations. What information did they record? Then they will need to discuss the evaluation of the observation (on the reverse side of the narrative observation form). Remind them to look back at the aim. What have they found out about this child/children? What evidence have they gathered from the observation to inform this evaluation? Then they will need to think about next steps. What planning can they put in place to help this child/children to meet the ELG?
What might be some of the challenges of completing narrative observations in a busy classroom? How might you overcome some of these challenges? How might you use observations to support/inform your practice? What value is there in carrying out narrative observations? Would you ever use narrativeobservation alone? What other forms of observation might you use?
EV402 Session 6 - Observation
Semester One 2013
Today we are thinking about…..
The role of observation
in classroom practice
The use of observation
to reflect on practice
types of observation
Engaging with reading…..
What is the purpose of
Why do we observe?
• To understand children’s:
Health care and safety
Development and growth
Social interaction with peers and
Changes in behaviour
Strengths, areas of
interest, schemas, learning
Any barriers to learning
To inform our planning
As teachers we need to know
If the teaching and learning is successful and meeting
all of the child’s individual needs
If children are making progress
If the learning environment is supporting children
and fostering learning
“By watching children and young people:
We evaluate their needs
Extend their experiences
Facilitate their learning”
(Sharman, C., Cross, W. , and Vennis, D. (2007) Observing Children and Young People, London: Continuum)(p15)
Early Years Foundation Stage 2008
“Practitioners’ observations of children help them
to assess the progress which children are making.
Observations help practitioners to decide where
children are in their learning and development
and to plan what to do. This is an essential part
of daily practice in any setting.”
(DCSF, 2008, p.11)
The revised EYFS 2012
“Ongoing assessment (also known as formative
assessment) is an integral part of the learning
and development process. It involves
practitioners observing children to understand
their level of achievement, interests and learning
styles, and then to shape learning experiences
for each child reflecting those observations”.
(DfE, 2012, p.10)
Observation, assessment and planning
Observation and Reflection
“…teaching practice is
constantly evolving in the
same manner that children’s
(Fiore, 2012 p. 51)
Pollard, 2005, p17
Observation and the Teachers’
• S2: be aware of pupils’ capabilities and their
prior knowledge, and plan teaching to build on
• S4: reflect systematically on the effectiveness
of lessons and approaches to teaching
• S6: make use of formative and summative
assessment to secure pupils’ progress
Some types of observation
Timed sampling observations
Event sampling observations
Observing an area or an activity
Should be for a reason – are purposeful
Should focus on what a child CAN do
Should record what actually happens
Should be objective and unbiased – the
observer should stand back from personal
values and beliefs (avoiding value-laden
• Observers should try to avoid ‘influencing’
Presenting a planned observation: an
Date and time.
Age/s of child/ren being observed.
Names of child/ren and adults. Be mindful of how you
store sensitive information whilst on placement. Use
pseudonyms if you are removing the observations from the
Context (eg. The activity the child/ren are engaging with).
Aim (eg to identify fine, manipulative skills)
Record of the observation
Evaluation/interpretation (assessment of achievements)
Recommendations for Next Steps/Actions
• Record a narrative
observation of the
• Share your observations
with your talk partner
• What evaluation can you
made, in light of the aim
of the observation?
• What might be the next
• Observation is an important part of the
learning and teaching process
• Observation enables teachers to understand
the unique abilities and needs of each child
• Observation is used by teachers to plan
• Observation supports teachers to reflect on
For Next Time….
• Clarke, S. (2005) ‘Defining formative assessment’, in Formative
Assessment in Action. Weaving the elements together, London:
• Nutbrown, C. (2006) ‘Assessment for learning’, in Threads of
Thinking: Young Children Learning and the Role of Early
Education, (3rd ed), London, Sage
What is your understanding of ‘assessment for learning’ as explored by Cathy
What are some of the key elements of formative assessment? What might this
look like in the classroom?