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Maurice R. Sykes
"The perfect tool . . . for those of us who seek to close the opportunity-to-learn gap during the early learning years."
With these new editions of the assessment tool thousands trust, preschools and elementary schools will have the information they need to determine the effectiveness of their classroom environments, strengthen the quality of their programs and teaching practices, and improve young children's early literacy outcomes.
Measure 5 key literacy elements:
Order with the ELLCO Pre-K Tool and save $10! Use code S1050 when placing your order.
The User's Guide is part of ELLCO, the bestselling classroom observation tool that helps schools assess the quality of literacy practices and supports and give children the best possible start in language and literacy development. Trusted by schools across the country, ELLCO helps educators reliably gather the data needed for professional development and program improvement, leading to better literacy outcomes for young children.
Excerpted from Chapter 4 of User's Guide to the Early Language & Literacy Classroom Observation Pre–K Tool, by Miriam W. Smith, Ed.D. Joanne P. Brady, M.Ed. & Louisa Anastasopoulos, M.P.P.
Copyright © 2008 by Education Development Center, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
GUIDELINES FOR OBSERVING IN CLASSROOMS
Scheduling and Duration of Observations
Prior to conducting an ELLCO Pre–K observation, contact the classroom teacher to explain the general purpose of your visit. Work with the teacher to choose a day for your visit in hopes of getting as typical a picture of the classroom as possible. For example, do not schedule your visit on a day when special activities or visitors are planned. You should also obtain information about the classroom schedule and time your observation accordingly. Allow at least 3.5 hours for your visit to ensure that you collect ample evidence to score all of the ELLCO Pre–K items. Plan to observe not only free–choice time and fullgroup book reading but also a variety of other activities, such as a mealtime, greeting or departing, and any other instructional time. It is important to see teachers interacting with children in various settings in order to get an accurate picture of the language environment and the types of conversations that take place between teachers and children and among children.
In addition to selecting the appropriate day and time for your visit, your initial telephone conversation with the teacher can also provide information needed to complete some items on the cover page and Observation Record page. Ask the teacher for information that will enable you to complete background information, such as the program, center, and teacher information; the duration of the classroom day; the age ranges of children and numbers of children with identified disabilities; the number of English language learners; the 4 primary language spoken in the classroom; and languages spoken by English language learners. The remaining items on the Observation Record page should be completed at the time of the observation.
Conducting Observations with Professionalism and Respect
Classroom observations can be an anxiety–provoking experience for teachers. As the observer, you can help teachers feel more comfortable by taking care to treat them respectfully throughout the entire process. Remember that you are a guest in the classroom. Be sure to greet all teaching staff, introduce yourself, and thank them for allowing you to observe. Remind them how long you plan on staying and indicate that you will do your best to keep out of their way.
Although you will need to position yourself in order to see and hear everything that goes on during your observation, make an effort to be as unobtrusive as possible. In order to ensure that you do not influence what you are trying to observe, you should minimize your impact on the classroom. After your initial greeting, do not interact with the children or the adults, and maintain a neutral facial expression regardless of what you might see or hear during the observation. Children may approach you with questions or comments, but a simple explanation that you are there to see what they are learning and are not able to play is usually enough to satisfy their curiosity.
Preparing for the Observation
Before conducting an observation, you should carefully read through all of the ELLCO Pre–K items several times to familiarize yourself with the content and sequence of the items. Be sure that you thoroughly understand what evidence is needed to rate each item before your visit, so that you can focus your attention on the classroom activities during your observation. You may wish to highlight or circle key words and phra