Assessment of children’s learning and development involves intelligent observation of the children. Over the course of the year, observations are documented and shared to provide evidence of increasing knowledge and skills across developmental areas. Authentic and meaningful assessment involves regular and periodic observation of the child in a wide variety of circumstances that are representative of the child’s experience in the program over time.
It is by acting as researchers, and observing and documenting children’s learning, that teachers gain an understanding of how children experience the world. This process involves asking questions, investigating, reflecting, interpreting, and sharing the results with children, colleagues, and families.
The narratives on Storypark offer glimpses into the individual child’s school experience. Each story is a snapshot of a moment, a deep and critical view of the child’s processes of meaning making and dispositions to learn. Teachers observe and record children’s active engagement and participation in learning in order to represent and reflect upon their theory building, creativity, problem solving, playfulness and imagination. In examining children’s experiences, teachers seek to understand what is known and what is yet to be understood, in order to know how to help children’s ideas deepen.
A learning story includes careful listening and observing, and the narrative can be a collection of photography, video, anecdotal recording and artifacts which work together to communicate what the children are experiencing or trying to accomplish. (What did you see?)
The teacher’s interpretation offers connections to development, highlighting the potentials that are evidenced in the children’s words and actions. The teacher may recognize patterns in children’s play, continued interest, repeated use of objects or materials, or common play partners. (What does it mean?)
The offering of questions or possible next steps allows the teacher to consider what can be done to extend and expand children’s learning and development. (How can this be enhanced with new ideas, materials, or interactions?) The teacher may also seek to identify areas for future observation. (In what other ways does the child demonstrate this attribute/understanding?) The teacher may choose to reflect on his or her own practice and choices within the learning situation. (How did I, the teacher, influence this learning through my words and actions? What would I have done differently, looking back?)
Early Learning Summaries
The Early Learning Summary is an overview provided twice a year, which takes into account the full range of development that has been observed. In depth assessment requires teachers to reflect on changes in children’s learning and behavior over time and to link these to developmental learning goals. The portfolio documentation and other informal observation records provide the data and evidence for the evaluation provided in the summary report.
At Barrow Street, bulletin boards are a crucial tool for publicly documenting the work of our students. We want to highlight the process and not the final result of the children’s projects. This is important not just for the children and their parents, but also for visitors and even for other teachers looking for inspiration.
Pictures, charts, schedules and graphs tell a story for each classroom about the work that children are engaged in, the things they are wondering about and the social relationships they are developing.
Documentation is displayed both inside and outside the room and demonstrates the integration of curriculum areas.