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Assessment & Intentional Teaching workbook

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Assessment & Intentional Teaching in Early Childhood Education

An online course from The Education Hub

<br>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 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, whanau, 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.

To support your conversation, it might be helpful to print out the questions.

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.

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