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6 Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL realization that more chairs are needed around the playdough table. You may lift an infant out of his seat as you notice his beginning agitation and carry him across the room so that he can see what the other children are doing. These are all spontaneous curricular deci- sions. You are responding to something you have seen and making changes in materials, environment, or interaction with the child. Being more focused and planned often involves identifying areas of the classroom to observe more closely. You may see that parts of the play area are hardly used by the children, while other areas are overcrowded. Room rearrangement may be necessary to improve traffic flow. Or you may notice that the toddlers are especially fasci- nated with the fish in the aquarium this week. Figuring out ways to follow up on their interest will help you be responsive to the children and develop their engagement and understanding. Sometimes you may need to communicate with your colleagues to decide who will observe specific activities or watch for the children’s demonstration of certain skills. Some teaching teams plan ahead to watch for children’s demonstration of their fine-motor skills by providing the children with a variety of stringing beads and pegs and pegboards so that they can collect information related to that skill. Determining goals for the observation will help you collect information that can contribute to a later discussion or a change in plans. And documenting, or writing down what you notice as you observe an activity or area, will help you remember more clearly what was seen and make more effective decisions for change. In chapter 7, we offer more in-depth suggestions about using observa- tion and documentation for curriculum planning. If a child has identified special needs, you will use your observa- tions to adapt activities so that the child can be successful. You will pay attention to the identified individual family service plan (IFSP) or individualized education program (IEP) goals and document ways that the child is working toward those goals. While observation and documentation cannot be used to diagnose a child’s disability or determine placement, they can be used to improve teaching strategies and implement individualized curriculum. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL