Observing and Documenting Children's Learning (page 2)
Children’s literacy learning can be assessed in a variety of ways, including observation, anecdotal records, analysis of written and oral samples, and vocabulary and reading inventories. Teachers and children might create individual literacy albums or portfolios that contain writing samples, tapes of children reading and telling stories, lists of books that the child has read or listened to, and transcripts of a conversation as a way of documenting their achievements. Children often assist in choosing artifacts to include and reflect upon why they want this particular entry to be included. These reflections can also become part of the literacy album or portfolio.
Teachers can gain an extraordinary amount of knowledge about children through careful observation. Following are some questions that can guide you in observing children in the literacy center.
- Does the child know how to handle a book (turns pages one at a time, starts at the beginning of the book, holds book right side up)?
- Does the child look at or read books voluntarily?
- Does the child listen attentively when being read to individually, in a small group, and in a large group?
- Does the child demonstrate the ability to comprehend stories (can retell a story, can add information, can answer open-ended questions, is able to talk about the story and make predictions)?
- Is the child able to name alphabet letters? Which ones?
- Does the child demonstrate concepts about print (English is read from left to right and top to bottom)?
- Can the child identify words (sight words, environmental print, frequently used words, own name and names of friends)?
- Can the child read a book (telling story from the pictures, memorizing the book, reading some words in the story, reading all the words in the book)?
- Is the child able to tell or retell a story (story told in sequential order, story involves characters, setting, problem to be solved, plot, resolution)?
- Does the child demonstrate phonemic awareness?
- Is the child able to clap the number of syllables in a word?
- Can the child give examples of rhyming words?
- Does the child scribble, draw, or write voluntarily?
- Can the child record her ideas through pictures and words?
- What book genre is favored by the child?
- What writing conventions does the child use (left to right, top to bottom, space between words, capital letters at the beginning of a sentence, uses punctuation)?
- What stage of spelling is the child in?
- Does the child engage in conversations (takes turns, uses appropriate eye contact, initiates conversations, responds to other’s initiations)?
Teachers are critical in designing effective literacy environments and then scaffolding children’s learning as they interact in these environments. Early childhood teachers can set the stage for children’s lifelong love of reading and writing.
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