Monday, 20 June 2011

A Schema Case Study for the Staff

At the end of the training week, all staff were set an assignment by me. They had to carry out a case study on one of their key children. They had to observe the chosen child  and try to spot and identify any schema/s the child was possibly following.

They then had to use a PLOD to plan for the child's interests and possible lines of development. After five weeks of observation and planning; the staff were to assess the child's learning using the EYFS and produce a learning story. There was a six week deadline.

A colander is a good piece of equipment to help children explore
a scattering, trajectory or going through a
boundary schema

This was well recieved with 100% of staff handing in (on time) a PLOD and Learning Story for the chosen child. The standard and quality of this work across the project was significantly high with all staff (100%) correctly recognising their target child's schema or interest. Well done!

The reports handed in by staff were colourfully visual, pleasing to the eye and full of photos displaying the sequence of the child's learning rather than the end product (which is what we always tend to see).  If I was a parent receiving a report of this quality for my child I would have been over the moon.

For any parent who did recieve a 'Learning Story' it would be great to hear your thoughts on it. We had all manor of schema's taking place in those six weeks; lot's of transporting and enveloping and even one 'On Top' (More about this schema in future posts).

All staff had attempted to evaluate their key child's learning, however, some staff were stronger in this area than others. This exercise has been invaluable in raising awareness of this weakness for some staff and flagged it up as a further training need. As a result, myself and Karen will be visiting staff in their monthly meetings to feedback the journal exercise and to deliver extra evaluation training.

I am looking forward to working with the staff to raise the quality in this area in September. An extra well done to all of you who took part. I can't wait to see more of this kind of stuff.

Incidently, the learning stories will be made into a book marking the launch of 'Schemas in Action at TEYP.'

Trajectory Chairs

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Staff Training Week 6th - 10th June 2011!

During the TEYP staff training week Mandy and I delivered the schema training to 78 participants in two parts.

Part 1) Spotting and Identifing 10 Common Schemas - the objective here was to introduce staff to 10 different schemas that were easily recognisable and ones that were more likely to be seen over and over again in children's play both in the settings and at home.

These 10 schemas have been listed below in earlier posts.

In participating in this training it was hoped that staff would be in a better position to recognise such patterns of behaviour. In turn this would enable them to identify the play patterns of their key children and enhance provision. As it was; during the training session, many staff were able to recognise these characteristics in many children they were currently working with. A high number of staff were therefore stepping on board and begining to understand the significance in adopting a schema approach that enabled them to identify children's 'true interests' and to plan for children's learning and development through possible lines of direction.

All staff recieved a 'Spotting and Identifying Schema Booklet' to use in their daily work.

This young boy has been recognised as having a connection schema

Part 2) training focused on staff making observations of children to collect evidence of schematic play and then to plan for children's learning and development through a PLOD - Possible Lines of Development. They can then use the PLOD and observations, photos, film footage, etc to write and produce a 'learning story' for each child each term as part of the child's assessment journal. (Learning Journey).

This child plays in the centre of the train track (Enclosure)
However, staff were also made aware at training that even though they may have identified a child's dominant schema or cluster of schemas they were NOT to ignore other aspects of learning such as 'letters and sounds' or a child wanting to learn to write their name.

Staff were made aware of the importance of adding these interests to either a child's exisisting PLOD or if the interest (in writing own name) was so dominant; this might even warrant a PLOD of its own. A new PLOD could then be placed over the top of the current PLOD. (It may be needed again in a week or two if the child's interest changes back!)

Let's say, for example, a child visits Dungeness over the weekend with their family and develops a fascination in lighthouses. The child arrives at nursery on Monday and talks about it continuously. The interest in the lighthouse leads to discussions of the sea and before you know it you observe the child building lighthouses from junk material or blocks and painting lighthouses.

This is not a schema? So what do you do in this instance?

No, it's not a schema BUT it is an interest (which is all a schema is) and of course staff will still need to plan for this interest. They could plan some adult-led activities or even a mini project (there are bound to be many others interested in lighthouses and the sea?) After all, the project would still be child-initiated; NOT adult-initiated and this is therefore acceptable.

This two year old enjoys a safe place to climb 'on top'
The feedback from the training week has been very positive with 90% of respondents to the evaluation feeling that the potential impact of adopting a schemas approach on future working practices would be outstanding!

Many staff who were previously sceptical about schemas in children's play had changed their thinking since the training and were able to recognise some aspects of behaviour in the children they were currently working with and even in their own children!. A huge majority were also keen to get back to their setting to spot and identify schematic play and to make observations. A case study assignment was set for all staff to identify one child's schema, produce a PLOD for the child, and then a written report (in a learning story). And all within a certain deadline.

Staff rose to the challenge... (Next Blog)

The return was MASSIVE!!!!

Well Done Everyone!  This is all positive stuff!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Piloting Schemas in the Nurseries

In order to assess any potential problems with adopting a schema approach and before I launched it across TEYP in September; I decided to run a pilot study in two of our baby rooms. These were at Hand in Hand and Growing Together.

Both rooms were given some short training and I discussed my plans with the staff. The staff working in the rooms (four staff) were happy to take part (although a bit apprehensive). However, they carried out a magnificent job.

All the children attending the rooms had schemas or interests quickly identified and before long, designated wall space contained lots of PLODS. The staff planned and assessed the children compentently. They  filmed children and learned to create movies; to be honest it was actually good fun! If staff needed help or support they confidently asked for it. I believe their growing confidence, their own knowledge base and a belief in what they were doing and seeing enabled them to run the pilot study successfully and they certainly got the most out of it.

A child exploring rotation in during play with cornflour

One nursery commented:

We began schema planning on the 26 April, we had a basic knowledge on schemas and were interested to learn more. Kim had recognised a baby in our unit who had a rotational and on top schema and when she played the video back this was clear to see. She then went on to show us an example of schema planning which to begin with looked like lots of paper work, but in actual fact it was less and so simple.

Both us staff members have taken to the new planning really well. It's easy and enjoyable. We feel you get a lot more from the children this way because its their interest and something they (children) want to do.

Both nurseries approached the task and tested and piloted the observation, assessment and planning in a positive way. They were open minded about what they did and when they came across any concerns or problems these were either sorted immediately by themselves or they asked for help.

I believe time will be an issue for many rooms: time to write learning stories and time to create and burn movies onto disc.

Time is something that I am now thinking about and mulling over. I want to get this right before September.

Any suggestions?  It would be great to hear from you all :0)

  • TTO staff have time out leading up to the writing of stories and holiday staff get time out during the holiday periods as this is a quieter time.
  • Learning stories can be done in the room with the children, anotating, cutting and sticking alongside the key person.
  • The deadline for the learning story each term is the first day back after the holiday. That way children's stories can be written in the holiday.
  • BEING GIVEN A DEADLINE will help staff keep focused and on track - like it did during the pilot learning stories - everyone kept to the deadline and it was a big success :0)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Thanet Early Years Project Schema Vision

In adopting a schema approach to children's learning and development our nurseries and creches will achieve:
  • Enriched observations where practitioners understand what learning is taking place.
  • The key person will keep richer learning stories of individual children in their care.
  • There will be an enhanced environment which includes more risk taking; tuning into children and just 'letting children be'.
  • Children will be leading the practitioners as opposed to practioners leading the children in activites.
  • Practitioners will be more relaxed, knowledgeable and highly motivated.
  • There will be strong partnerships with parents and sustained shared dialogue about children's schemas, learning and development.
However, in order for TEYP to achieve this vision and the above success; 70 plus staff need to be trained and I  have been given the mammoth task of writing and producing it.

Once the schema training  is written by myself and colleague, Mandy we are to deliver it to all nursery staff (and some creche staff) during our TEYP Staff Training Week June 2011.

Rotation Schema