Posted on 12/13/2011 at 12:03 PM by Global Reach
Preschool teachers receiving state dollars have recently been feeling the push to use the observation-based Teaching Strategies GOLD system for assessing the children in their programs. They have been writing observation notes and collecting artifacts to demonstrate what level children are at in the 38 objectives in the areas of social-emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy, mathematics, science and technology, social studies and the arts. Most of them are already entering the assessment information into the on-line system and learning of the many ways to run individual and group reports that can help them to link that assessment information with their curriculum.
Recently preschool teachers are also feeling the nudge to transition from a solely theme-based curriculum to a curriculum that includes long-term studies. Long-term studies often develop from the interests of children and therefore the learning goes deeper. They last as long as they continue to have meaning for the children, there is the ability for the children to have direct experience with the topic and learning in the 38 GOLD objectives is taking place.
So why is use of both GOLD assessment and long-term studies a great combination? It is because use of one can help you with use of the other. Planning a study is based on GOLD objectives and GOLD objectives are used to assess children. Use of both together so automatically helps teachers to naturally make that link between assessment and curriculum, and assessment information can then easier be gathered.
Many preschool teachers using themes that may have been used for years are now trying to glean GOLD child assessment information from them when they were not planned around GOLD objectives, so it can become difficult. When teachers plan a study it is strictly based on the interests of children and GOLD objectives, so naturally they will easier observe them occurring. It’s better to plan curriculum that is based on objectives than try to fit old curriculum into those objectives. It’s like putting the right key into the lock the first time rather than trying lots of keys to finally get the one that fits.
The days of doing preschool activities just because they are cute or just because we’ve always done them that way are a thing of the past. We must move to doing activities because they are based on goals that are proven to be indicators of school success. This move from no or old assessment methods to research and observation-based assessment and from theme-based curriculum to long-term study based curriculum requires major mind shifts for preschool teachers. It is important that they take the proper steps and have the needed support as they make this transition that will take some time. Moving forward in these areas needs to occur, but the pace may vary from preschool to preschool and teacher to teacher. Don’t think of doing themes as a bad thing; just think of doing studies as a better thing. Once a teacher has the proper training (which Northwest Area Education Agency will be providing soon) it is recommended you just try a study or two, and chances are that after a while you’ll be able to easily say good-bye to that old way of doing themes.