Transcript of An integrated approach to gathering evidence of children's learning

An integrated approach to gathering evidence of children’s learning video (29:41)

Narrator – Welcome to an integrated approach to gathering evidence of children's learning. I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this recording takes place. The Darug people and the many lands on which this presentation is being viewed. I pay respect to the Elders past, present and emerging.

This session will support early childhood educators to gather evidence of children's learning during the phased return to school stage. Learners will understand the role of assessment within the planning cycle and the critical role it plays, explore formative and summative assessment to improve learning and teaching and analyse methods to gather evidence of learning using an integrated approach to face to face and online teaching.

The assessment and planning cycle. This professional learning session will focus on two components of the planning cycle with a strong emphasis on assessment, reflecting and evaluating and observing and collecting information. Observing and reflecting are both part of the process of gathering evidence of children's learning described in the early years learning framework as assessment for learning, the term assessment refers to the various ways educators learn about the children they work with, the early years learning framework defines assessment as the process of gathering and analysing information as evidence about what children know, can do and understand. It is part of an ongoing cycle that includes planning, documenting, and evaluating children's learning.

When gathering evidence, educators observe and listen to find out what children know, can do and understand. They collect information that shows children's learning. The information gathered describes children's progress and identifies their strengths, skills and understandings.

Evidence of children's learning can be documented by families and children at home, and by educators when children are at preschool. Where possible, children can decide what is to be included as evidence of their own learning and be encouraged to reflect on their learning. This may mean talking with them about the process of documentation, enabling them to take photographs, inviting them to make choices about the information that has been collected, and asking them about the learning processes they engage in.

Here are a few key points as to why it is important to gather evidence of children's learning other than the fact that it is a regulatory requirement. Knowing children well is essential for building strong relationships and helping children feel valued, secure and supported to learn. Having detailed knowledge of each child contributes significantly to plans for the curriculum or program and provides evidence to educators, children and their families about children's progress. This is often documented as formative assessment. Considering different perspectives when gathering evidence of learning enriches assessment. Discussing ideas with children, families and colleagues makes it more likely that assessments will be accurate.

The early years learning framework lists several reasons why assessment is important. It enables effective planning, communication about children's learning and progress, identification of children's learning needs, learning to be visible to children, families, educators and other professionals, evaluation of the effectiveness of the program or curriculum and critical reflection and subsequent improvements in pedagogy.

Educators use a variety of strategies to collect, document, organise, synthesise, and interpret the information that they gather to assess children's learning. They search for appropriate ways to collect rich and meaningful information that depicts children's learning in context, describes their progress, and identifies their strengths, skills and understandings. What I like about this quote from the early years learning framework is the reference to children's learning in context. This could be done at home or face to face at your service. Each of you will have different methods for gathering rich and meaningful evidence of children's learning, and it may look different based on the context.

In this session, we will unpack both formative and summative assessment. As we move through the session, it is helpful to understand that formative assessment is often referred to as assessment for learning and summative assessment is often referred to as assessment of learning.

Document 11 from the educators' belonging being and becoming resource CD describes the term formative as assessment processes that are ongoing and occur throughout the learning process. Formative assessment contributes to children's learning by enhancing teaching.

The New South Wales Education Standards Authority uses the term assessment for learning and defines it as teachers using evidence of our students' knowledge, understanding and skills to inform their teaching. Sometimes referred to as formative assessment, it usually occurs throughout the teaching and learning process to clarify students learning and understanding. So whether we use the term assessment for learning or formative assessment, this form of assessment occurs continuously throughout the learning process rather than at the end. It enhances the teaching process as educators develop a deeper understanding of the child with whom they work with, and it is used to inform plans for ongoing learning.

Within your educational context, you may have children learning through an integrated approach, learning both remotely or face to face. There may be a combination of attendance patterns across any given week, and this requires strong collaborative processes with families. The early years learning framework, unpacks the practice of assessment for learning, it suggests assessments capture and validate the different pathways that children take towards achieving outcomes, with the focus on distance travelled rather than endpoints. It draws attention to collaborating with children, families and caregivers to document formative assessment, recognising families as children's first and ongoing teachers. Collaboration also ensures families are able to support their children's learning more effectively and are empowered as advocates for their child. It ensures educators learn more about children who may be engaging in learning remotely and that children gain an understanding of themselves as learners.

Here is a recording from Emily and Maria who are early childhood teachers at Rose Hill Public School. They are joined by Jennifer, the deputy principal and preschool supervisor. They use seesaw class, which has allowed families and children to share their learning directly back to the educators. Let's listen to how they are receiving and documenting evidence of children's learning from home and how they have managed some of their challenges during an integrated approach to gathering evidence of children's learning. So, so how are you? How are you receiving and recording that feedback from families against the outcomes? So our families can send us photos and videos of their children engaging in the learning experiences that we share with them as a part of the program, as well as other spontaneous experiences that they've engaged in. These items that they send us are categorised on the seesaw app into an individual folder for each child. We're currently working on utilising a feature on seesaw that allows us to classify children's work samples against the outcomes from the early years learning framework. We're also engaging in some critical reflection on how we can prepare questions for parents to answer via seesaw in regards to their child's participation in a learning experience. So, for example, how their child is developing their pencil control and ability to write their name. So as a team we're also continuing to critically reflect on how we can utilise all this data that the parents are sending us and the work samples we receive to write learning stories and summative assessments on each child as a part of our medium term plan. We set up a weekly tracking sheet so we can monitor individual participation, and if we see that a child is not participating, we're sending an inbox to the parents on seesaw first so we can contact them directly there. If that's not really working, we've been following up with a phone call to the parents just to see how they tracking at home and what their personal situation might be. Are you able to log in or access the online teaching program? Yes, Donna. We've created a shared Google Drive for the preschool team to upload our weekly plans in the matrix activities that Maria was talking about, as well as all the resources for online learning distance learning and we do communicate through their relating all our communications with parents go onto our Google doc relating to distance learning. I have access to the seesaw class which is really good. I can view the teachers videos, the activities posts and see what the children have been sharing in response. I also contribute some videos myself that the educators upload, you know just greetings, thanking parents for their support. I can also provide voice response and feedback to the children about their learning. Can I jump back to you and say, can you fill us in on some of your challenges or learning curves you found and perhaps what you did to overcome them? Yep, so I had some challenges with some families in my class that, come from a non English speaking background an may not be as confident with using technology sort of similar to what Jennifer was saying. So I worked closely with these families through the phone conversations and meeting with them at preschool to provide step by step instructions on how to download and use seesaw, and we've also spoken with some critical reflection about possibly getting an interpreter if they need some help long-term using seesaw. We understand that technology can be challenging and take that into consideration to ensure all of our families can support their child to learn from home. Like we said, with the at home learning packs, we also have provisions to provide offline learning for children, if that's required. We also had families who wish to protect their child's digital profile, of children in my class in that situation. So I spoke to each of these families personally over the phone to discuss how we can support their child and continue a relationship with them still. Most of the families were happy to post only audio messages and photos without their child's face, just to continue their values and their wishes to support their child and not give their child that digital profile. We're just making sure that that's in alignment with our philosophy and the code of ethics. We want to acknowledge that each family has a right to make decisions about their child and we want to be sensitive to the vulnerabilities of children and their families and respond in ways that empower and maintain the dignity of all children and their families.

There was some great ideas which we heard from the educators at Rose Hill. Now here are some questions to help you guide reflection on formative assessment. How do you involve families, children, your colleagues, and other professionals in assessing learning? How do you record and track feedback from families and children who are learning from home? How do use the information you gather to inform your teaching? You may like to hit pause on this slide for a moment and reflect on these questions, either individually or with team members. If you keep a reflective journal, take some time to record your reflections in it.

Let's move on now to summative assessment. Document 11 from the educators' belonging being and becoming resource CD describes the term summative as assessment processes that typically occur at the end of a learning experience or activity and sum up what has been learned. Summative assessment is also referred to as assessment of learning. Summative assessment brings together all individual pieces of formative assessment and helps to create an up-to-date profile of each child. They capture children's current knowledge, skills and understandings, noting challenges and areas of learning or behaviour of concern. These summaries are useful when educators or families have concerns about children's learning or development. Assessment of learning assists teachers in using evidence of learning to assess progress towards outcomes and usually occurs as defined key points which may be at the end of a learning experience, school term or semester.

We use summative assessment to support ongoing communication and sharing of insights and information in order to build an up-to-date shared picture of the child's learning with colleagues, families and the child. We use it to inform future planning to promote the child's sense of self as a learner and to provide information to educators when the child is transitioning from one service to another. For example, when they're starting school.

When documenting summative assessment educators might write a story to the child in their family, summarising their achievements and what they have demonstrated during their time at a service. This may occur at the end of a term or school semester. They may also use the transition to school statement, which provides a snapshot of each child's strengths, perspectives and personality. Some points to consider are: Do you have a system to regularly and systematically reflect on photos, jottings, anecdotal observations, learning stories, samples of each child's work, online feedback from children and families, or information shared by other professionals? When developing summative assessments, do you gain a greater insight into each child's relationships, cultural context, interactions, learning styles, dispositions, and their understanding of concepts. Has working with families during remote learning helped to gather a rich picture of the child through their eyes and through the feedback that you have received from families?

On return from a prolonged absence, educators are encouraged to gather evidence of learning from families about the children and the learning that has happened at home. Think about what the child has been interested in, what learning the family has observed, what experiences they have engaged in with their child. Once again, you may like to pause at this slide for a moment and consider some of these questions for reflection, either individually or with your team members. Again, if you keep your reflective journal, please remember to take some time to record your reflections in it.

Now here's a question which most educators often think about and ask about. How do you know that your teaching is on track? While this session has focused on the components of reflecting and evaluating and observing and collecting information, documentation can and should occur at all stages of the cycle to ensure teaching is on track. It is important to maintain a profile for each child to record their learning journey for families, for educators and for other professionals to see. This will be different for each child based on how often you see them face to face and how often they engage in remote learning. It will also differ based on the amount of evidence gathered by yourself, by other educators and by family members.

Recognising the unique context of your preschool and this returned phase to school, there is no one size fits all approach. With all children on any given day, there may be a number of observations worth recording. Alternatively, several days may pass when you don't record anything at all. Concentrate on documentation that supports quality outcomes for children. Develop a tracking system to ensure that each child's learning is being assessed, and consider how you will maintain records of those assessments. Trial different methods to find out what is realistic, achievable and relevant for children, families and educators. Be open to change as the dynamics of the group or team will change based on the number of children who attend face to face and those who were involved in remote learning. Keep track of any changes in your reflective journal and review your documentation procedure to reflect any change.

Now let's hear from Midori Jobling, Deputy Principal Instructional leader at Punchbowl Public School. She will share some of the methods they have implemented to ensure they have kept their teaching on track. These methods have helped ensure a smooth transition back to school for their children and continued to be embedded during this integrated approach of online and face to face teaching. Our philosophy and the early years learning framework principles were the driving force behind our decision-making and ensuring the continuity of learning for our children. Key messages highlighted are partnerships with families, how we're connecting, following up and ensuring wellbeing practices are maintained. Continuity of learning using a combination of methods to continue with our planning cycle so you know maintaining that embedded practice that we have, teamwork, really acknowledging that we're all educators contributing and adding value to children's learning. You know we're a community of learners and that's what our philosophy states. This first slide is about our family partnerships, how we remained connected to our families, how we track their engagement and what kind of process we used as a whole school and preschool to ensure the safety and well being of our students. We developed a log accessible through our preschool OneNote notebook to track connectivity and engagement on seesaw. For example, when there was a message from families or we could see that the post had been seen or families share a voice recording or photo, a key was developed with symbols for us to use to keep that tracking. This also included phone calls home made by us, and you know, monitoring school attendance. We ensured we tracked this daily. We maintained a whole school process of a follow up phone call if we had no evidence of connectivity in the same way that we would follow up if a child had not attended preschool. So after 2 days a phone call was made to check in with those families, you know, really ask them how they were traveling, support them with the technologies required. We also maintained our practice of weekly wellbeing meetings, so shifting to zoom platform when we were all at home to reflect on this as a team and come up with ways we could support families and an example of this is a follow through was to provide a video tutorial on how parents could you seesaw for sharing learning so we can see more engagement. This next slide demonstrates an example of how we have maintained our practice around programming and using the planning cycle. We use a combination of methods that was facilitated by using seesaw class up to continue our practice. We were very much aware of the complexities of our setting. 50 percent of our preschoolers have one, two, three siblings in the primary school. So we understand that we're not going to receive feedback from all families due to the complexities of daily life. You know, access to internet and the very real possibility that they are most likely sharing a device to access the learning. What we did do was when children started demonstrating that they were engaging in their learning. You know, sharing what they were doing at home, whether it was through a photo, comment, video, or audio recording on seesaw, we jumped at using those opportunities to pick up on our practice, you know, took that feedback and use it as a jotting that then the educators analysed to launch future learning experiences, really maximising those opportunities to use their interests and keep the learning meaningful. The example here shows how we are still engaging in the same practice as we do when children are on site, you know from the jotting or that initial observation, and in this particular instance, parents shared videos of their children engaging in some literacy activities where the educators could see that particular child was writing their name but they used capital letters. There was another child that held the writing implement in their hand and they took notice how that implement was held and from previous jottings also it was identified that many of our preschools were demonstrating already an interest in writing their names. So this was the proforma of the jottings they used, then one of the educators recorded a tutorial which included how to hold the pencil correctly and model correct formation when writing their name. So this was individualised for each child and uploaded on seesaw using the activity function. In this slide you can see that one of our preschoolers down the bottom there in the middle shared a video of herself engaging in the learning experience. So again, we looked for opportunities where we could continue our practice, always going back to our philosophy and early years learning framework principles to guide our reflection and decision making. At the top of this slide you can see a video of learning from Term 1 in the preschool and that was the children's interest of the didgeridoo, what it was, who played it and questions around the markings of the individual instruments. As the interest continued, the educators started to explore with the children other images and books of different Aboriginal symbols. On seesaw we continued the learning by posting a learning experience through the activity function on the seesaw platform, which allows the children to interact with the educator. So children can respond via photo, video or audio recording. Parents can also use the comments section to give feedback. So here on this slide there is a picture on the bottom left hand side, that's the activity, and we've realised now that our parents and children have become quite familiar with using this to share their learning. So the experience was a guided drawing shared through a video in the activity function where the learning experience was modelled and at the end the children were asked to share their work by taking a photo, so you can see here an example of this on the bottom right hand side of the slide. In this last slide, you can see that all the educators were working collaboratively and contributing to the learning experiences, so that includes our SLSOs and teachers on both the mainstream and early intervention classes, and also our community partners such as our onsite speechy. The paramount importance to us was when we moved to at home learning, that we continued with those relationships that we'd worked so hard to develop between educators and families, so really keeping in mind that when preschool comes into their home through seesaw, it's a known educator that visits and greets the child, reads the stories lead the learning experiences. It's the children seeing and hearing their educators as they engage in at home learning. As you can see on the slide we also have a speechie program that runs all year round and supports the high language needs of our students as well as building teacher capacity, so this collaboration also continued. They continued with the lesson sequence they had prepared based on the observations of our students. Continuity of learning was very important as well as management of teacher workload. So a real understanding around that all educators have a responsibility of contributing to student's learning. So really emphasising once again that those collaborative practices we have embedded within out team.

We've now heard some examples of how Rosehill and Punchbowl Public School are receiving and documenting evidence of children's learning from home and how they have managed some of their challenges. Here are some other things you may like to consider to ensure you keep your teaching on track during this integrated approach to face to face and online learning. Once again, you may like to pause at this slide for a minute and reflect on these questions.

A suite of resources has been developed for teachers, educators and families which may be used to support teaching during the integrated approach of face to face and online learning. To locate additional resources and activities, go to the learning from home page which is constantly being updated with additional resources. You will also find a series of podcasts that unpacks important early childhood concepts, theories and practice, and an extended recording from Rosehill Public School. Here is a list of the projects for learning written for educators on the learning from home site. These outline learning outcomes and teaching strategies to support conceptual development in line with the outcomes of the early years learning framework. Family resource booklets outline learning outcomes and play experiences that can be offered in the home to support children's learning. Prompts are provided within these resources to support families and educators to reflect on children's learning and support families to provide feedback to demonstrate learning.

Now finally complete this task based on your reflections during this session. What might you do to improve your approach to gathering evidence of children's learning during this integrated approach across two settings. You may like to pause at this slide for a moment.

I'd like to sum up with this quote taken from the NQS PLP eNewsletter. No matter what processes and formats for recording are used, what matters most is that assessments of children's learning and development contribute to the quality of children's experiences. Educators need to critically reflect about how to assess children's learning more effectively and efficiently in order to know them well. They need to be certain that the return from the amount of time and energy they invest in assessing makes it worthwhile.

A list of resources. The department's learning from home site provides support for teachers and advice for parents and carers to keep children learning outside of the classroom. If you click on teaching at home and then on early learning, you will find resources to support young children who are learning at home. You may have previously completed the professional learning session found on this site titled planning and assessing learning remotely, and noticed that this session has focused a little deeper on assessing children's learning.

An integrated approach to planning and teaching is one of the most recent sessions found on the departments learning from home site. Much like this session, it aims to support teachers to facilitate an integrated approach to planning and learning across two settings.

You'll find an additional resources that accompanies this professional learning session on the learning from home site also. The resources supports an integrated approach to gathering evidence of children's learning across multiple sources, particularly while children are experiencing long absences from the education setting and during the blended learning phase of transitioning back to school. It also dives a little deeper into assessment that may be used to support professional dialogue and facilitate deeper understandings for all educators.

If you have not yet joined the statewide staffroom, please follow the links on this screen.

We would love to hear your feedback about this professional learning and provide suggestions for future development of professional learning. Please use the QR code or link below to access the evaluation through Microsoft forms.

I would like to thank Midori and the team from Punchbowl Public School and Emily, Maria and Jennifer from Rosehill Public School. Your contributions to this professional learning session are greatly appreciated. Thanks for joining us and please feel free to contact us at earlylearning@det.nsw.edu.au should you require any assistance.

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