Sample Page Title

HomeSample Page

Sample Page Title

HomeSample Page

Assessment & Intentional Teaching workbook


Assessment & Intentional Teaching in Early Childhood Education

An online course from The Education Hub

Below are your thoughts and reflections from PART 1: Assessment for intentional teaching

Notes and reflections from What is intentional teaching?

Reflect on the following question, and write a personal response:

Notes and reflections from The relationship between assessment and intentional teaching

Have you thought about the different uses of the assessments you make on a daily basis in terms of the concepts of formative and summative? How often are these truly formative (feeding into learning plans and teaching responses) and how often do they remain at a summative level (summarising a current level of competence but not moving beyond that to inform ongoing teaching and learning)?

Often in the time-poor and pressured environments of our early childhood settings, assessment can remain at a summative level – something is documented and recorded for a child and the child receives a learning story in their portfolio. We might even see that product (the learning story) as the act of assessment. However, these written records of what children are learning are only a small part of the assessment process, with the major acts of assessment practice involving reflection, discussion, and decision-making around what has been observed or documented. One of the most important reasons to assess children’s learning is to feed into and inform ongoing teaching and learning. It might also be to report to parents and whānau about their child’s experiences, and to offer children a record of their learning, but even these functions should be focused on enabling parents and children to respond to, extend and enhance learning. Assessment, done well, enables an understanding of children as individuals, as members of their families and communities, and as learners, which facilitates highly intentional actions and interactions with children. This aim for a greater understanding of children as learners should always be at the forefront of our reason for assessment, rather than providing a record of experiences, or meeting an expectation for a certain number of pages in a portfolio.

Think about the assessments used in your centre:

Relate your learning to practice

In each part of the course, we are going to invite you to engage in an assessment or intentional teaching activity in your own setting, related to what we have been learning together on the course. By the end of the course, you will have worked through an assessment cycle in relation to a particular child or group of children’s learning and developed some intentional teaching in response.

For this first part of the course, we invite you to select a child or group of children to be the focus of your assessment practice in the course, and make some notes on what you already know about the child that you can draw on and build into your assessment and planning.

Below are your thoughts and reflections from PART 2: Introducing assessment practices

Notes on The purpose of assessment in early childhood education<br>
Notes and reflections from What is assessment in early childhood education?

Reflect on the following question and write a personal response:

How confident do you feel to enact the principles of _Te Whāriki, _or your national curriculum if you are based outside of New Zealand, in your assessment practice? For example, in relation to _Te Whāriki’s _principles of Empowerment ǀ Whakamana, Holistic development ǀ Kotahitanga, Family and Community ǀ Whānau Tangata, or Relationships ǀ Ngā Hohonga, you might like to reflect upon how well  your current assessment practice:

Notes and reflections from What aspects of children’s learning to assess and Kaupapa Māori assessment
Relate your learning to practice

Think about your local curriculum, or the curriculum goals and strands that you, your early childhood setting, whānau, and community value most for the children you serve, so you can begin to determine what to assess in your context. Find a colleague (someone whom you can trust and who you think will both challenge and support your thinking would be ideal), and use the questions below as the basis for a reflective conversation.

Below are your thoughts and reflections from PART 3: Gathering information about children’s learning

Notes and reflections from How data and assessment support planning and intentional planning
Notes and reflections from What and how to observe for effective assessment practice
Relate your learning to practice

Choose a learning event to observe in your early childhood setting – this will be the focus for the learning story you will write during this course.

The learning event:

Look for and select something that is meaningful. For example, you might choose something that reflects your setting’s curriculum priorities, something in which your focus child shows new, sustained or intense interest, or something that is important to parent and whānau aspirations for your focus child. It should also be learning that you would like to understand more about in order to better support, expand, and extend it. See the notes below for some tips for getting the most out of this observation.

Tools currently available include:

He Māpuna te Tamaiti: a Teacher Reflection Tool for teachers to think about their practice in relation to social emotional learning

Hikairo Schema: published by NZCER, this is available to purchase

Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Wellbeing (SSTEW): In Assessing Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care by Siraj, Kingston and Melhuish (2015), available in bookstores and online.

Remember, the aim here is to use these progression scales and evaluation tools not for creating a summative assessment of a child, but to aid you in formative assessment that feeds into your planning and intentional teaching.

The observation

For the most effective observation:

  • Use a notebook or clipboard or a pack of post-it notes, and jot down key words and phrases that children utter, or note down the order of the actions they use to complete a task, or the different stages of their activity, such as the way they tackle making a clay house or explore a new object. Write notes or draw sketches, according to your preference. Don’t rely on photographs – an effective observation cannot consist purely of photographs. You might use video or make an audio recording of children. However, it might be wise to limit your recording: a minute or two will give lots of detail for your assessment.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal gestures and actions. With infants, look at small details, such as the direction of an infant’s gaze, or the pattern of their hand and feet movements.
  • Spend a couple of moments thinking about **the significance and meaning **of what you have observed (either immediately afterwards or as soon as you have time – at the end of the day is fine). What seemed most interesting or important to you in the moment of observing? You might highlight or circle some of your notes, annotate them with questions to yourself (such as ‘is N drawing on home experience here?’) that help you to make some provisional meaning from what you observe.
Uploaded File:
Upload a FilePermitted file formats: pdf, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, csv, txt, ppt, pptx, mp3, mp4, zip.

Below are your thoughts and reflections from PART 4: Multiple perspectives

Notes and reflections on Assessment practice in early childhood education
Notes and reflections on Involving parents and whānau in the assessment process
Relate your learning to practice

Let’s now get some additional perspectives for the analysis of your observed learning event. There are two parts to this activity, as you are going to seek the perspectives of both a colleague and a family member. Optionally, you might also like to share some of your assessment data with the child or children for their perspective too. 

Colleague perspectives. Use a reflective conversation with a colleague to generate more ideas for interpreting the assessment data you have collected. Share the observation data (video, photos and notes) without your analysis and ask them for their thoughts about the learning that is occurring and their particular interpretation of the learning that is happening.

Family perspectives. Work through the following steps to invite families’ perspectives on the learning that is happening or the next steps.
• Select the most appropriate way (specific to that family) to share this information. This might be through sending home a paper copy of the documentation with some written questions, emailing the description of the story and asking questions, using an online portfolio communication system, or chatting face-to-face. 
• Share the raw observation data (a video, set of photos, or observation notes) with families to find out their interpretation of the learning. Sometimes families can be discouraged from adding their own interpretation after reading a more polished analysis from the teacher.
• Invite a general comment with questions such as ‘what do you think of this we’ve observed about your child?’ as well as specific questions that invite parents and whānau to analyse and plan for learning. The latter might include ‘What abilities do you see your child developing here?’, ‘Why do you think your child is so interested in dinosaurs?’, and ‘Does this connect with anything your child has been doing at home?’ (although don’t overload parents with questions though, as one or two carefully designed questions is enough!) 
• Make time for a follow-up conversation or dialogue with families in which you respond to their comments and ideas (particularly if your interaction is not face-to-face).

Child perspectives. If appropriate, you might also like to explore the ideas from the reading about involving children in the assessment process and getting their perspective.  

Below are your thoughts and reflections from PART 5: Learning stories

Notes and reflections on Why use learning stories
Notes on using a range of assessment tools to promote children’s learning
Relate your learning to practice

Read this learning story exemplar, which consists of three connected learning stories written over two months. The children involved are four and four-and-a-half years old. Using the rubric provided below, analyse the learning story. Alternatively, if you are experienced with learning stories, you might like to analyse one of your own recently written learning stories. Complete the table below to analyse the story. This exercise will help you to get a sense of the important features of an effective learning story.

Describe important features of the context to support
interpretation of how people, places and things contribute to learning
Describe the breadth and richness of children’s dispositions,
experiences and skills over different contexts
Highlight children’s interests, strengths and knowledge
Detail what children know and what they can do, and what new
learning might be possible
Recognise and describe children’s dispositions and working theories
Show how learning is multidimensional and links learning to
a range of Te Whāriki’s strands and principles
Show progress or how skills and competencies are new or changing
Analyse how people, places and things have contributed to learning
Make some connections to children’s home-related interests,
activities and knowledge
Invite families to actively participate in interpretation of activities
and events and document evidence of that involvement
Include children’s self-assessment comments or questions
to elicit self-assessment
Include the diverse perspectives and interpretations of other teachers
Demonstrate a good understanding of Te Whāriki
Plan ways to extend the interests and learning
underlying children’s activity
Focus planning on developing working theories
or extending dispositions
Connect with interests and activities that are meaningful
to the child and family
Invite families to actively participate in planning from stories and
document evidence of that involvement
Enhance the child’s sense of mana and competence, and provide
the child with a sense of agency over their ongoing learning
Demonstrate reflection on teaching interactions with children,
which leads to intentional practice and improvement
Provide evidence of how teachers’ planned interactions
have extended learning
Show continuity of interest, skill development
or competency over time
Align with the early childhood setting’s values
and priorities for learning

Below are your thoughts and reflections from PART 6: Narrative assessment techniques

Notes on using new assessment tools
Your learning story

It is now time to write the description part of your learning story. Try to be clear and concise – think about what information is really relevant and meaningful to understanding the learning. You might like to include:

  • Information about the context, including the relationships with adults, peers, and materials.
  • Links to children’s interestscapabilities and culture. For example, ‘This reminds me of what you have told me about the way your dad plays the drums in church’.

Remember, too, to use a positive tone to describe children’s learning processes and to present children as competent and confident in their learning. It can also be useful to offer a sense of incompleteness and limitation to show that there is much you do not and cannot know about what you observed, as this invites others’ interpretations and emphasises that the learning is a work in progress rather than a finite event. For example, ‘I’m not sure how you knew when you had enough water, but after six trips to the tap you picked up your spade and continued digging’.

In the remainder of this part, we are going to be working from your observation of learning, and the description that you have written for your learning story, to create the analysing section (recognising learning) of your learning story. 

In early childhood assessment practice, the analysis of children’s learning is often about inferring meanings about what you’ve observed so that you can make a good guess about how to strengthen and further this learning. As well as identifying concrete skills, dispositions, and knowledge, you are also developing a theory or hypothesis about what is happening for children and what they are interested in and learning about. This is a process of critical reflection that can be aided when you gain the perspectives of others, including other teachers, family members and the children themselves, as we did in Part 4. Remember to include these different perspectives in your analysis, which will enable you to present children’s abilities as shifting and fluctuating over time and context, in line with what we know about the way children develop and learn. 

Uploaded File:
Upload a FilePermitted file formats: pdf, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, csv, txt, ppt, pptx, mp3, mp4, zip.
Notes and reflections on Strategies for analysing children’s learning

Which of the strategies you’ve just read about might be most useful for analysing the learning story you are writing now? Try answering the questions posed in the reading in relation to your observation:

Relate your learning to practice

Using your answers to the above questions as a guide, write the analysis section of your learning story. You won’t want to include everything you have identified, but just the parts of your analysis that seem pertinent to ongoing learning and further assessment. Start by using a heading for the analysis section, which helps you to make the shift away from description, and ensures that learning is quite visible and obvious for families and children. You might also try to include: 

  • How knowledge and skill are growing and changing over time
  • The ways in which you value the learning that you have recognised
  • Alternative understandings and interpretations on the learning that is occurring, and the meaning that this activity/event had for the child. Multiple hypotheses add to the strength of your learning story by helping you to be open to many potential ways of taking the learning further. Ask yourself how else you might view what is happening here? Are there alternative understandings or interpretations? (This is where you draw on the conversations you had with families and teachers in Part 4.) For example, you might just add extra analysis to your analysis, simply listing your colleague’s hypotheses in addition to your own, using a tentative tone (‘Or maybe you’re interested in understanding how water can carve out its own path?’). You might also add connections that your colleague may have made to other learning events ‘Raewyn told me you shared this book with Raoul last week too’.

Remember to use tentative language, including questions (‘Perhaps you are thinking …?’, ‘Could it be the sound that interests him most?’ and so on) to reflect the fact that in analysis you are creating hypotheses, and you can never really know what is going on inside a learner’s head.

Uploaded File:
Upload a FilePermitted file formats: pdf, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, csv, txt, ppt, pptx, mp3, mp4, zip.

Below are your thoughts and reflections from PART 7: Responding with intentionality

Notes on assessment practices

Have another look at your learning story.

Now that we are sure that we have really tailored our assessment documentation to highlight the present strengths, interests and needs of children in their learning, we are well placed to think about how to respond.

Notes and reflections on responding to children’s learning

Share this reflection with a colleague as the basis for a reflective conversation.

Relate your learning to practice

Determine which aspect of the learning recorded in your learning story you want to focus on to extend, expand, or strengthen for this child. What would be your goal for their ongoing learning? Formulate some plans for extending or expanding children’s learning, and write the ‘respond’ or next steps part of your learning story.  You might find it helpful to follow these steps.

  • Use a heading for the planning section, which helps you to be quite intentional about planning. If planning is absorbed into the main narrative, it has less prominence and significance for readers.
  • Think about the different ways in which interests and dispositional learning can be extended. For example, a disposition can develop by becoming more frequent, while an interest can become more complex. Both interests and dispositions can be supported to become more wide-ranging (across different areas or activities). Ask yourself:
    • What do your understandings and hypotheses imply about the next steps for children’s learning? For example, if you hypothesised that it is the movement of water as children pour between containers that interests them most, what kind of experiences could you plan next for children?
    • What are different ways in which children can explore the ideas underlying their play? Exploring ideas in different ways and making a shift from one language/activity to another helps children to create and consolidate concepts and conceptual maps.
    • What challenges could you offer children that involve them in transferring learning to a new context or to add complexity to an interest? For example, you might strengthen a disposition to take responsibility by offering children an opportunity to take on a new responsibility. The ability to transfer knowledge and skills to a new context demonstrates secure learning for the child.  
    • In what ways would it be useful for children revisit this learning? In what ways could they improve on a product, or on a process for creating something?
  • Don’t restrict planning to activities in the same area or with similar resources. It helps to look for underlying interests and motivations here. For example, a child who is interested in building train tracks may be exploring and motivated by ideas of connection and length. This interest might extend to using masking tape to create lines on the floor, or using long pieces of string wrapped around trees and posts in the outdoor area.
  • Planning can also include planning to carry out further observation or documentation. For example, look at whose ideas and actions have been documented, and whose ideas and actions are missing. What can you learn about the children and what do you still need to know? How can you find out?
  • Refer to the pages in Te Whāriki about ‘Examples of practices that promote these learning goals’ and ‘Considerations for leadership, organisation and practice’ for ideas for practice in relation to the learning goals which are most prominent in children’s learning. 
  • Ensure there are clear links between the learning described in this story, the analysis of this learning, and what you are planning.
  • Be tentative and express a sense of diverse possibilities and uncertainty about how the child’s ongoing learning journey will develop. This will reflect an understanding that dispositions and working theories evolve in unpredictable ways.
  • Use your planning section to provoke the ‘next steps’ conversation with children and whānau. Encourage reflection and see the assessment as something that can inspire as well as inform continued learning and exploration. Try using questions such as ‘do you think you will need to check on the progress of your plant regularly? How will you do this?’ 

Let’s now get some additional perspectives for the analysis of your observed learning event. Your first task is to engage a colleague in a reflective conversation about your observed learning event, to gain some additional perspectives for your analysis. Then you can choose the most appropriate way to engage children and families in co-analysing the learning that is happening in activities you have documented.

Uploaded File:
Upload a FilePermitted file formats: pdf, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, csv, txt, ppt, pptx, mp3, mp4, zip.

Below are your thoughts and reflections from PART 8: Assessment and intentional teaching in daily practice

Notes from Tracking continuity and change through assessment
Notes and reflections on Learning notes

In the previous part of the course, you planned how to respond to the learning you recorded, analysed and reflected upon in your learning story. After putting this intentional response into action, write a follow-up note to your learning story about the actions you took to further that child’s learning and their effects on the child’s learning, or on other ways in which the child has continued to explore similar ideas or areas of learning. Think about how you are going to demonstrate continuity and show the connections across this story and the last, and about the best way to record this follow up. Does it need to be another learning story, a shorter snippet, or perhaps learning note?

Uploaded File:
Upload a FilePermitted file formats: pdf, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, csv, txt, ppt, pptx, mp3, mp4, zip.
Notes on assessment and planning in action
End of course reflection

As part of this course, you have written a learning story over several weeks, responded to your assessment of children’s interests and learning, and written a follow-up story or note. How successful was this story as a piece of formative assessment?

Take your learning story and use the rubric we introduced in Part 5 to evaluate it. Then consider how well the assessment that took place with the production of this story informed your intentional teaching.

Reflect on your achievements with the learning story you have written during this course. 

Close popup Close
Register an Account