Q: Preschool Assessment: Child’s Report Card or Teacher Planning Tool? A: BOTH!
Welcome to the first issue of the Preschool Plan-It Primer, a free monthly newsletter from Preschool Plan-It!
My hope is that you find information in each newsletter that is helpful to you- the Early Childhood Educator- as you work with this wonderful group called Preschoolers!
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February, 2011 Issue # 1
In This Issue:
Children’s Assessments as Planning Tools!
Tips & Timesavers: Daily Bins
Interest Center Focus: Writing Center
What’s New? Search It, Find It, Plan It!
Children’s Assessments as Planning Tools!
Child assessments have many names: progress reports, report cards, developmental progress forms. You may complete them annually, semi-annually or quarterly depending on your program’s policy and state requirements.
As early childhood educators, we put much time and thought into completing these for each child. You may have collected items for a portfolio, written anecdotal comments from your observations to share with the families and have carefully completed each section of the form with that individual child in thoughtful focus.
This helps the family to know what the goals of your program are for their child’s classroom as well as where there child is in the areas of social, intellectual, emotional and physical development. Your personal notes help the family realize that you KNOW their child and what they are capable of.
The question: What happens to these assessments after they have been shared with the families? All too often, they are filed in the child’s individual file not to be looked at again or at least until the end of the school year when the final assessment is written for each child. If this is what happens in your program, you are missing out on a great curriculum planning tool!
Your assessments can be used to develop activities based on where your class is as a whole. They can also be used to plan small group activities based on individual abilities and needs. Take a look at your assessments to see if you are planning for your specific group or planning for an age range.
For example, your math area has many themed activities planned that encourage children to develop their one-to-one correspondence up to 5; sort manipulatives by color and/or size; and recognize numbers up to 10.
You review your assessments from the fall and see that, at that time, ALL of your children had strong one-to-one correspondence up to 10 and ALL knew their colors. You notice that about half of your children recognized numbers up to 5 and many recognized up to 15.
Knowing this information would change your plans for the math center. It would also suggest that you may want to have some small group activities for number recognition to work with children where they are at.
Many times we get so caught up in the planning for “three year olds” or “four year olds” that we lose sight of what we know about “OUR” three and four year olds!
February marks the middle of the school year! This is a GREAT time to get a cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa and review your children’s assessments. Notice where they were at that time and how you can use that information to better individualize your program and interest centers now!
TIPS and TIMESAVERS: Daily Bins
Gathering materials for daily activities takes a lot of prep time! Like most teachers, I have limited space to keep these materials in and limited time available to gather them! I, again like most of us, start early or stay late each day to gather and prep for the next day and search frantically for that book I wanted to read or words to that finger play that I planned.
A few years ago, I took on administrative responsibilities as well. I needed to manage my time much better! I wanted to share one tip helped me to save time and stay organized. I began using daily bins.
I purchased 5 bins and labeled them. After writing up my lesson plans for next week, I place the items I will need for each day in that day’s bin. I include items such as the books for story time, the words to finger plays, the paper for art activities, ANYTHING that I can put aside in advance that will save me time.
INTEREST CENTER FOCUS: The Writing Center
Providing opportunities to practice writing is important not only to your preschoolers’ literacy development but also their fine motor development. These opportunities can be provided in any area of play such as having a clipboard and paper in the Dentist Office in your dramatic play area to a journal (papers stapled together labeled SCIENCE JOURNAL) at the science/discovery table.
A focus on practicing print will typically be found in your Writing Interest Learning Center. This center can be a part of your classroom Library or, as in our classroom, a separate interest center all together!
The writing center has developed over the years for us. It used to be more of a cut and drawing table. Because we encourage the children to print their name “as best they can” on every creation, we added name tags.
These tags or papers have their name printed and their picture on it. They are laminated. We added dry erase markers so they could trace their names if they weren’t yet writing their names. This led to them wanted to “write” hence the birth of the Writing Table.
This center is a great way to encourage preschooler’s pre-writing and pre-reading skills. Stock your center with all the tools they need!
Some of the items you can include are:
Paper-lined and unlined; Markers and crayons (both types: wide and thin)
And remember, it is not just for writing! It is for CREATIVE writing! So, include items such as:
Stamps and stamp pads
This may seem like a lot to have available at one time. If you are introducing a writing table for the first time, this many choices may be overwhelming to them.
Provide limited choices by offering crayons and markers. Add new items every couple of days or each week such as stencils one week, stamps and stamp pads the next, etc.
Many teachers have a small shelving unit with a labeled bin for each item (labeled with a picture of the item and the word) to help children keep track of the items and know where to place them when they are done.
When preparing your lesson plans each week, consider what you will add to your Writing Center that will help children develop in this area.
Need Writing Center activity ideas for an upcoming theme? My website has a theme page. Each theme has Writing Center activity ideas, as well as activity ideas for the other interest learning centers in your classroom. CLICK HERE to go to Preschool Plan-It’s THEME PAGE
WHAT’S NEW? Search It, Find It, Plan It as Preschool Plan-It!
The following pages were added to the website during the past month:
Writing Interest Center
Dental Health Theme Page
Exercise and Fitness Theme Page
Nutrition Theme Page
Post Office Theme Page
Valentines Day Theme Page
Comments? Ideas for future newsletters? Feedback?
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Until Next Month,