Get Adobe Flash player
4 Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Two Ways for You to Use Observation Information Lillian: Observing children is much more authentic than other types of You gain lots of information by observing children. There are two primary ways for you to use that information: for assessment and for curriculum planning. The two are intricately woven together. You observe children to learn more about who they are, and document what they can do so that you can more effectively plan activities, choose materials, offer adult guidance, and encourage peer interac- tions that support the children’s growth and development. As you implement your plan for activities, materials, and interactions, you observe again to see how successfully your plan meets the children’s needs. You assess that success and plan again! The process is ongoing. evaluations. When you observe children, you are seeing their development in a natural and true setting. Through observations, a teacher can learn what children’s needs are and what areas of development the teacher needs to focus on, and plan lessons around those needs. Observing to Assess Children Assessing children does not mean the same thing as testing children. Assessment involves gathering information about a child’s capabili- ties then evaluating that information. Gathering information may be done through observation and documentation. You may write down notes about what you see children doing and hear them saying, and you may also collect work samples the children have made or photo- graphs of them playing or participating in various activities. You may also gather information through parent interviews. The information you gather provides you with evidence that you can then evaluate. You evaluate the evidence to determine the children’s skill levels, strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, and interests. Using a com- bination of the processes listed above helps you make an informed judgment about children’s progress and their approaches to learning (Council of Chief State School Officers 2003). Observing children for assessment purposes can be done in a spontaneous way or with careful planning for documentation. If you make informal, spontaneous observations for assessment, you must document them so the evidence is not only in your mind. Unless you write down the observations, there is no record for you or for others to follow that documents the child’s changes over time, the child’s progress, the child’s struggles, the interventions teachers have attempted, and the results of those interventions. With no record of observations, bias and prejudice may go unrecognized and influence decisions about the child. Keeping the assessment process as only an internal one is not recommended. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL