Observation, Screening, Assessment, and Documentation:
Seek Multiple Perspectives
Uncover and experience the perspectives of children, families, and colleagues.
When your work is informed by multiple perspectives, you have richer experiences, build stronger relationships, and deepen mutual understandings. Listening to others who have different perspectives can nudge you to reconsider your daily practice and worldview, and recognize and challenge your biases. They can also lead to shared inquiry. Finding areas in which you can collaborate with others is a great way to uncover and experience different perspectives. With CompSAT by your side, you may be inspired to seek the perspectives of the children, families, and colleagues in your program and beyond.
In the book, "The Art of Awareness - How Observation Can Transform your Teaching", authors Margie Carter and Deb Curtis explain that the key to observing children is to know that observation is more than just a teaching technique. Observing children closely provides a new way of thinking about learning and teaching.
Collect a variety of objects that have some hidden, moveable parts as part of their function, such as a kitchen timer, pen with a variety of ink colors, wind-up toys, a combination lock, Etch-A-Sketch drawing toy, kaleidoscope, or staple gun. Work with a partner or a small group and choose one of the objects to examine.
Follow this procedure in exploring your object:
- Look at the object closely, exploring and noticing all of the mechanisms and features that make it work. At first, try to do this without talking. Do not take the item apart.
- Share your ideas with one another about how you think the object works. Try demonstrating to one another by manipulating the object or using your body to show your ideas.
- Take a few minutes to sketch your own theory of how the object works. You can use other materials to make it two- or three- dimensional, if that helps.
- Share your drawings with one another to see if any of your theories changed or were supported.
- Discuss how each of the forms of representation (discussion, demonstration, and drawing) assisted with your learning about the object.
- Talk about how this experience relates to children’s use of representation in learning and what they need from teachers in their writing.
- Discuss the role that other people played in helping you understand. What else would have been helpful?
Also Try This!
Observe two children engaged in a conflict. With a partner, put yourself in the children's shoes. Use the following questions as a guide and then notice your different guesses, points of view, and feelings about the situation.
- What do each of the children seem to understand about the situation?
- What do each of them feel strongly about?
- What strategies do they use to get what they want?
- What did you learn about each of the children from the details?
- What is your reaction to how the teacher handled this situation?
- How do you think the children felt about the teacher's response?
Extend Your Learning
Check out The Results Matter Video Project on the California Department of Education Child Development website.
Larry Edelman and The Results Matter Video Project team have recently added two new sections and posted more than 30 new videos to their free Video Library. Take a look around, watch the clips online or download them for free for use in activities such as professional development, team meetings, observation practice, and parent orientation. Below are some highlights of recent additions.
Early Care and Education
There are 10 videos in this section in which teachers share stories and illustrate the ways in which they are using video in their work.
Be sure to watch "Watching Video Documentation with Children."
Clips for Practicing Observation, Documentation and Assessment Skills
Access 48 clips of children participating in typical preschool routines and activities. The clips were produced to be used in professional development activities to give early care and education providers an opportunity to practice observation, documentation, and authentic assessment skills. Five of the clips are in a Spanish-speaking classroom.