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Observations, which should I use?

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Lucy Greenaway

on 19 October 2015

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Transcript of Observations, which should I use?

NC4004: Communication, Language and Literacy
By the end of this session, students should be able to...
Look at and assess various types of observation technique, what they consist of and how they are used
Describe the positive and negative aspects of each
Look at scenarios and assess the appropriate observation technique to use

How does it look?
Descriptive/ Narrative Observations are written in continuous prose. This means literally writing down everything you see a child do, and then assessing it appropriately. They can also be used as part of a form with quick reference to the EYFS Development Matters or codes related to settings.
The good...
Allows for spontaneity
A lot of information can be gained from one observation over a short period of time
Can easily be linked to developmental milestones such as the EYFS
Easy to write and complete
The bad...
Time Consuming
When trying to focus on a specific area it can be tempting to stray away from the necessary information
Are not good for quick reference
Can be tricky to balance writing with watching
What is it used for?
These observations are great for:
Observing free play
Observing interaction with others e.g Language
Allows for child lead tangents to be documented
Getting a full picture of that child's individual personality.

How does it look?
Tracking observations vary in detail but generally look like the birds eye view of a room, with activities written on shapes representing activity areas. Arrows are then drawn to each as the child moves around. Some practitioners include time stamps of precisely how long children spend at each activity.
What is it used for?
Gauging a mobile child's ability of focus on activities
Gauging the popularity and success of the activity itself
When used to observe many children it can be used to gauge foot traffic around the nursery environment
The Bad
The reasons for the length of time children spend on activities are not addressed
They do not contain a great deal of additional information
Really needs to be used alongside other methods of observation to be used as an accurate assessment technique
Requires forward planning
The Good
Simply implemented
Helps practitioners to see how long individuals can focus on activities
Helps practitioners to see which activities are the most popular and successful
Easy for practitioners to write
(Sharman 2007)
The good
Quick to write
Specific to the target area
Excellent at filling in gaps in the EYFS Characteristics of Effective Learning.
How do they look?
Some settings write Snapshots on sticky notes to apply to Learning Journeys, some have mini templates with the areas of learning on them. This acts as a quick reference. They are a sentence or short paragraph on one specific event.
What is it used for?
They help practitioners to observe behaviour that is not normally observed
They are good for noting spontaneous moments that do not always relate to specific learning outcomes
The Bad
Does not allow for additional information
Can only note specific instances and not the wider context
Does not provide opportunity to show knowledge individual personality
Does not provide practitioner with additional knowledge on their provision as it focuses only on the child's development, not their potential.
What are they used for?
Providing visual information to written observations
Assessing the success of particular activities
Allowing practitioners to make a record of models and physical activity that may otherwise be lost in translation with written observations
The good
Very easily implemented
Can have written accompaniments completed after the event
Can provide the context without the need to write it down
The Bad
Can rarely be focused on a specific area
For students, it can be difficult to obtain permission from parents
Cameras can distract children from their activity and make them behave differently
How do they look?
Photographic observations can be of the child, of their work or several photographs providing a timeline of events. They are very versatile and can be annotated in various ways, or simply applied to another type of observation to provide further detail.
To observe a child you MUST have permission.
Ask the parent to sign the permission form found on MyDay and then give it to Becca upstairs to file. As lecturers, we should not see them.

Descriptive/narrative, Tracking and Snapshot techniques of written observation were explored and how photographs are a valuable enhancement to written observation as well as a method in itself.
The uses and aspects of each were identified
This information was used to complete the table while discussing these points and think about how these techniques are best used.
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