Tim’s Story Part Two!

abc doesChild Initiated Learning, Continuous Provision, Planning and Assessment15 Comments

The work I did in Hampshire is going to form part of a case study that I have been asked to write so I emailed all of the participants to ask them for a photograph to use in the book. So far, only Tim has obliged. So, for anyone who was wondering…this is Tim.

Tim BarberOn receipt of this image I did ask him if it was his application photo for America's Next Top Model! He  assures me it is nothing of the sort!

Other than personalising his environment Tim and I were looking at the use of the other adult for maximum impact.

I have been looking at this with a number of settings and have now got a planning system that is proving to be very effective.

The basic principle is that you identify WHAT you are going to teach, based on assessment and observation.

You group your children into 4(ish) broad groups based on their attainment in that area

You identify what their current skill level is in that area

You plan a next steps OBJECTIVE for each group (NOT AN ACTIVITY)

You go into the children's play where their engagement is highest and apply the objectives to individual children.

It is a very powerful model that is achieving high level results.

Tim and I looked at his current planning and discussed the 'ideal' model. The next step for him was to come up with something that would allow his team to transition into a new way of planning without jumping in with two feet on day one.

Slide23This is how Tim used to plan. The groups would be called to the adult to complete a pre-planned activity.

Slide24Now the staff have kept the groups, but the children are unaware which group they are in. The colours are used as an identification system for staff.

One a key area has been identified (in this case PSRN – positional language) then the children are grouped for that area. A statement of current attainment for each group is made and then CRUCIALLY a next steps statement. It is this next steps statement that the staff will be teaching.

Now if I get a group of children who want to come and 'play' with my activity, I just amend my expectations and outcomes based on the child I am talking to at the time, and what their next step is.

So, as the session starts the children go off into continuous provision and (on this occasion) each member of the team begins to play within an activity they have set up. There was  dressing a doll's house, Bee-Bots and building an obstacle course (outdoor).  Because there is an adult 'playing' the children are more likely to come over to see what is going on and then to join in.

The 'transition' here for Tim's team is that the adult is still starting with an adult led activity. It is not at a table and is very much centred around play. The content of the activity will be based on children's interests but it will still be instigated by the adult.

The next step it to mix that apporach with one where the adult doesn't have an activity – just the next steps objectives and they then take those into appropriate 'pockets' of high interest play around the environment.

If there are any children who don't visit one of the 3 activities then the adults will go and join children in their areas of interest and use their skill to introduce the next steps objectives. This method of practice is NOT about hijacking children's sustained thinking or deep level learning. It is about engaging children in their areas of interest and leading their learning.

Tim then shared another practical example of this planning in action.

This one was all to do with racing cars inside…

and a car wash outside. By identifying the interests of difficult to engage groups of children and taking the learning into their play, you get a much higher level of engagement and attainment.

He had also tried it with repeating patterns.

At the moment Tim and his team are trialing this approach so only apply it to certain sessions which allows everyone to get their head around it and also see the impact. Over the next term he will be rolling it out across all sessions.

I have really enjoyed working with Tim and look forward to visiting him again at the end of the Summer term to see how he is getting on with it!

Thanks again Tim


15 Comments on “Tim’s Story Part Two!”

  1. Hi,
    Great site – thank you! Can I ask – using the above planing format, how would you record evidence of how the children did? Would you be making individual observations for each child and adding to their learning journals, or recording on the sheet?

  2. Hi Louisa
    I have had another look and I am not sure, so I have emailed Tim to ask him. I will post what he says when he gets back to me.

  3. Hi Alistair,
    Was on a course today about about AFL being a aspect of outstanding teaching. What is your thoughts on Assessment for Learning good practise in the early years? Not just thumbs up/thumbs down but how to make the children aware of what they need to do to improve?

  4. Hi
    Great post!
    Please could you tell me what the last column says in Tim’s now planning – I cannot read it

  5. Hi Jen
    This is a bit of a tough on because in my experience no amount of trying to divert gun play actually works – it always ends up re-surfacing in some way, shape or form. Even if you did embrace it as part of an activity on positional language, it is still gun play!
    If there is no chance of gaining the seal of approval from your SMT to embrace it then you could try taking elements of it like the aiming and the firing and channelling them through activities like paper aeroplanes that might have enough appeal to distract from the guns!
    Good luck

  6. Hi – I’m forever checking your blog…and have been using lots of your ideas (we tried the gloop and food colouring today in reception – they loved it, especially the boys! So thank you!! :O) I wanted to ask for ideas/advise really…I have a handful of boys who insist on being pirates and/or knights, they make themselves swords/guns and begin to play quite roughly…i work at a CofE primary and any reference to guns is not ‘permitted’ if you like, but what can I do with them to maybe turn it into constructive play that they will be engaged in? Has Tim used this idea of swords to link to positional language or (in the photo above)? Thanks v much…

  7. I have found these last 2 blogs very useful – a really clear way of developing the role of the adult – thanks

  8. Hi Hettie
    The what evidence column is ONLY for evidence of a child in that groups showing that they have moved from the ‘now’ criteria to the ‘next’. Nothing else. It is not a general observation sheet, it is specifically linked to this particular aspect of development so the focus needs to be kept tight.
    I always encourage settings to record the usual info of who, what, where and when but then also to make a judgement as to how secure the child was in the development of the skill. This usually means the practitioner recording E for emergent, D for developing and S for secure.
    Another good thing about doing this way is that staff have to have the often difficult but crucial discussion about what doe emergent ..etc look like.
    It also clearly identified which children need more consolidation within a skill and which need to pushed forward. You can also show that children are making progress within an area albeit from emergent to secure.

  9. It should work well for you Erica. To get the greatest impact you have to be sure the you have split ‘writing’ down into its composite parts and target each one differently as lots of children do not perform at the same level in all aspects of writing.

  10. Hi Marion
    I think WALT and WILF may serve as a good reminder for EYFS practitioners who, for whatever reason, need to be crystal clear about exactly what objectives they are teaching and what the success criteria might look like in practice. For the majority of children of this age, I think it is a complete waste to time. THe children that I have worked with neither understand their WALTS and WILFS or can apply them to their activity.
    Lots of schools use them as a ‘whole school initiative’ so you are stuck with it whether it is useful or not!

  11. Just had another thought…I’d be interested to see what kind of information and how much gets put into the ‘What evidence’ column.

  12. Really interesting. We are looking at encouraging more writing and I’d like to try a similar approach.

  13. I like this – makes sense to me. Can I just ask…does the last column on the ‘new format’ say “Children who found this difficult? I think I’ve been putting too much in to my planning in a week – will go and look carefully at this.

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