Weekly Learning Outcomes

· Week 3 – Instructor Guidance

Weekly Learning Outcomes

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1. Describe effective methods for instruction and assessment in early childhood settings.

2. Explain ways to communicate assessment results with families.

3. Use assessment data to create a curriculum plan for a child.

 

Week 3 Overview

In this third week of ECE203, we will be focusing our attention on the important topic of assessment. We will extend our discussion from week two regarding developmentally appropriate practices into developmentally appropriate assessment strategies.  We will also connect documentation and planning to assessment.

As educators or caregivers, one of the most important responsibilities we have is to accurately assess those children in our care.  This process of “collecting information about children’s development, learning, behaviour, academic progress, need for special services, and attainment” is at the forefront of decision-making (Morrison, 2009).  The biggest of those decisions is how to progress with instruction.  We might ask ourselves, what does each of our students need individually, and what are their needs as a collective group?  How can we plan effectively to meet those varied needs while still upholding the curriculum set forth by our schools or centres, as well as the state and national standards?  These important questions (plus so many more) revolve around our ability to properly assess children in ways that support their learning.

As you can see this third week contains some important information.  So, let’s get started!

How does teacher use of student assessment data change instructional practice? (Links to an external site.)

 

Discussion 1: Developmentally Appropriate Assessment  

An important role of teachers and caregivers is linking assessment and curriculum to guide planning and decision-making (Kostelnik, Rupiper, Soderman, and Whiren, 2014, p. 15).    During the first two weeks of class, we have discussed in depth the need to plan according to the individual needs of our students.  We have learned ways to get to know our students’ interests, backgrounds, cultures, etc.

 

However, only through assessing children can we get an accurate picture of their academic needs and strengths.

The assessment provides us with yet another tool to inform our instruction and planning and “provides practical, ongoing information and evidence to guide what you choose to do” (Jaruszewicz, 2019, section 12.1).  As stated above, our role is to link assessment, curriculum and planning together.  To link these together, we must align our assessments “with learning standards as well as the goals and content of the curriculum” (section 12.1).  Our findings can then be “used to modify activities and practices to advance the development of each child” (section 12.1).

As teachers and caregivers, we must ensure that the assessments we use are appropriate for the child’s age and developmental stage and is individually and culturally appropriate (Kostelnik, 2014, p.15).  That is truly what is at the heart of developmentally appropriate assessment.

Observing Young Children (Links to an external site.)

One of the key forms of assessment for young children is the informal method of observation.  The reason for this is that young children are typically not developmentally ready or equipped to handle the consistent use of more formal types of assessment.  “Widespread implementation of standardized testing with children under the age of 8, especially if not balanced with the holistic data that informal assessments provide, is considered developmentally inappropriate” (NAEYC/NAECS/SDE, 2003, as cited in Jaruszewicz, 2019, section 12.2).  Observation is a developmentally appropriate option if you take certain developmental factors of young children into consideration.  According to Kostelnik, 2014, p.61:

· Young children have immature language skills. They have limited ability to follow oral directions, read printed instructions, or express themselves adequately in words.

· Children are sensitive to the setting, the timing, and the people involved in the assessment process. The more can design your assessment to document what children are doing naturally in your classroom, the more it is likely that assessment outcomes will be accurate.

· Children tire quickly and are easily distracted.

· Children have no concept of the importance of assessment and may have little understanding or interest in doing well.

Based on these factors, can you see why informal methods such as observation-based assessments are so widely used in early childhood?  Table 12.3: Observation-Based Assessments in your course text provides an in-depth look into each of the observation-based assessment techniques that you will need to examine for this discussion.  Observation: The Primary Tool in Assessment (Links to an external site.) is an article that gives more insight on viewing the whole child when observing. This includes gathering all the information such as what materials were used, and strategies on when to find opportunities to observe. This article is a valuable resource as you continue to work on your observational skills.

Initial Post: Your initial post should include the following:

· Select one informal assessment from Table 12.3 of the text

· Discuss why you feel it is an effective form of assessment to use in your future role as an educator.

· Review all the informal assessment tools from table 12.3 and choose the one that makes sense to you. Ask yourself, why did I choose this informal assessment? What did this one stand out to me? What about makes me feel that this is a useful tool? This is what you are going to explain to your reader. The thought process behind choosing your tool.

· As an educator, imagine you have just administered the assessment. Describe how specifically you will use this measurement to make instructional decisions about curriculum. Support your choices with the course text.

· After you have administered the assessment, think about how your students may have performed. If they performed well, would you continue with the same lesson plan format and curriculum? If students performed below standard, would you change the way that the lesson is taught? How would this assessment impact the way you teach?

· Explain how you will share the assessment results with families considering the following:

· How will you communicate with them (e.g. e-mail, phone calls, etc.)

· How will you explain the results?

· In what ways is your approach inclusive of family, culture and individual differences?

· Home school connection is vital in education. How would you communicate with your families regarding assessment results? Many programs now offer APPS for mobile devices that allow parents to have instant communication with teachers. Consider communication methods such as classroom DOJO, a parent portal on the school website, or perhaps a direct link for parents to email you.

Guided Response: Read several peers’ responses and choose two peers who selected a different assessment than you. Compare the assessments. Your responses must address the following questions:

· How are the assessments like?

· How are the assessments different?

· What are the strengths of your peer’s chosen assessment?

· What are the weaknesses of your peer’s chosen assessment?

· How can both assessments inform instructional decisions?

· Looking at the assessments your peers have chosen and really analyzing their work will help your growth as an educator. Take time to view their assessments in detail as might be an assessment you want to consider using in the future.

 

 

Assignment: Assessment Case Study

 

For your assignment, this week you are focusing your attention on observation, “one of the most widely used methods of assessment” (Morrison, 2009).  Observation is defined as “the intentional, systematic act of looking at the behaviour of a child in a particular setting, program, or situation” (p. 69).  It might surprise you to know the number of new teachers who feel that observation is “simple” because it just involves watching.  This could not be further from the truth behind what observation is.  In fact, if you reread the definition provided above, you will notice the word “systematic” is used.  Morrison (2009) states, “the significance and importance of critical behaviours may go undetected if the observation is done casually and is limited to unsystematic looking” (p. 69).  Teachers must have a plan for how to conduct observation on any given day, but also overall in their classrooms (you will be tackling this very thing this week).  Subsequently, another mistake in the thought process is that observation is only used to determine if a child is grasping a skill. The video below provides more information on how to observe when assessing children.

Observing With Purpose: Observing Young Children’s Learning and Development (Links to an external site.)

As teachers and caregivers, if you strive to find concrete information about your students to use in planning, reporting, or conferencing with families, observation is a crucial part of this!  As your text shows, there is a definite process to observing your students, as well as many varied types of observation.  That is where your work starts for this assignment.

Consider the following scenario: You are an educator that has finished collecting assessment data on a child, Anna Smith, in your program or classroom.  You must now create a curriculum plan based on Anna Smith’s Assessment Evaluation.

For your assignment, include the following:

· Introduction (0.5 Points): Write a succinct introduction that informs the reader of the topic of the assignment and its organization. Remember, an effective essay introduction tells the reader what you will say.

· What have you chosen to write about and why? This introduction should tell us what this essay will be about. What are you going to teach me about today?

· Assessment Observations (3 Points): In one to two paragraphs, describe the observations that you made from the data on Anna Smith using several examples from the assessments.

· What did you notice about Anna Smith during the observation? What was her learning like? What were her responses like? Where are there notes on her body movements? Give the reader a description.

· Child Observations (3 Points): In three to four paragraphs, describe the strengths and areas of opportunity (i.e., weaknesses) for Anna Smith based on the assessment data.

· Remember an observation is not giving your opinion. It’s a retelling of the information based on what you saw (read). Based on the scenario, what are areas that Anna Smith did well in? Based on the scenario, where did she struggle? You are reporting on what you saw and interpreted, not on how you think Anna performed.

· Short-Term Goal (3 Points): In three to four paragraphs, explain three specific instructional decisions for a short-term goal for Anna Smith based on the data analysis.

· Now is your opportunity to use your creativity. What are three things you can do as Anna Smith’s teacher, immediately to help her with her learning? These are things that you can implement in the next week or so, that will help Anna’s academic performance improve?

· Long-Term Goal (3 Points): In one to two paragraphs, explain one specific long-term goal for Anna Smith based on the data analysis.

· What is something that you feel Anna Smith should work on as the year progresses? This is something that you won’t see an improvement in right away. Choose something that you could reassess six months to a year from now. A long-term goal is something that Anna Smith will take time to master, so it cannot be assessed right away.

· Conclusion (0.5 Points): Write a succinct conclusion that informs the reader of the main points from the assignment. Remember, an effective essay conclusion tells the reader what you have said in a summary.

The introduction told the reader what you wanted to write about and why you chose it. Now you are going to tell the reader the outcome of what you wrote about. How will Anna Smith benefit from your short-term and long-term goals? How has learning about this observational assessment process helped you as an educator? The conclusion ties your writing altogether. It finishes your body of work. What idea do you want your reader to walk away with?

 

 

 “Observation, very general and widespread, has shown that small children are endowed with special psychic nature. This shows us a new way of imparting education!”- Maria Montessori

 

References

All images used under license from stock

Jaruszewicz, C. (2019). Curriculum and Methods for Early Childhood Educators. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. (Original work published 2013)

Kostelnik, M., Rupiper, M., Soderman, A., & Whiren, A. (2014).  Developmentally appropriate curriculum in action. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Morrison, G. (2009). Early childhood education today. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

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