Quote of the Moment
"All really great things happen in slow and inconspicuous ways." Leo Tolstoy

Monday, 6 February 2012


I should have known that this, or something similar is already in use. My only new view is to googlify it. Nothing packaged in this way is particularly user friendly. 

Idea for recording observations in schools. 

One of the best places I find to think is in the shower. The shame and tragedy of this is that it is also one of those places where it is difficult to write down any thoughts. Couple this with my absolute lack of short - medium term memory (melodramatically speaking) then you have a recipe for many wasted ideas.

The other problem is I have a SiFi mind which does its best to focus on those thoughts that are totally impracticable for me. Anyway, enough of the navel gazing. Here is the idea.


The Problem:
Working in a reception class as an Assistant Teacher I came up with a solution to a problem. How to keep a tab on the observations of individuals within a class. This is a key aspect of the work that goes behind assessing children at this age within the English school system (I forget the title of this form of intuitive). I also think this could be expanded to senior school, with even more effect.

The Initial Thoughts:
Currently the observations are made with little sheets of paper where the observation of positive activities - they could be of achievement when reading or of a new behaviour e.g. sharing - which are collated within a folder for each child and largely forgotten about during the rest of the year. At the end of the year I believe that a report is created based on these observations showing the stage of development the child has achieved. Again this is for Reception aged children of 4 - 5 years old.

The throwaway nature of this form and process of reporting seemed a shame to me. Why waste and forget valuable bits of important information on each child by putting it in a largely unreferenced folder in some hidden part of the classroom. A quick solution to this problem could be to use a collaborative document programme such as Google Docs to allow multiple users to access and update the observations and concerns placed on there by other practitioners. In this format two things would happen. The information would be glanced at at a regular basis by those entering in the data, but also the information itself would be put into context. For example, no duplications will be made (no time wasted, acknowledgement of behaviour reinforced) and any concerns could be highlighted easily.

Further Thoughts:
This initial solution would be an improvement for me as a technologically minded individual but this would not be all that user friendly. Also it would open itself up to problems of privacy, of accidental deletion and a host of others. As such my further thoughts into the matter - whilst lathered in soap and water a touch too warm for my liking - was that there may be scope for a dedicated product of some kind.

The Solution:
The product itself would be very simple. A well designed and user friendly database system based around tags and search. Essentially a blog made by teachers and other staff members within a school that would use pre-determined 'tags'. These tags would aid search and filtering so as to allow for clear data on whatever topic or child that is of concern.

Furthermore this would aid the individual within the school with the responsibility for 'Care and Guidence' (or whatever the title) as the software would track the numbers of incidents of specific topics... Say 'drugs' or 'bullying' and allow that individual to remotely study the problem, identify the areas of the school that need attention and then follow up the solution with clear school wide data on the topic.

This is an example of a senior school use of the solution, but I can see applications as low down as my lowly age of 4-5 year olds. Here we could track phonic development and understanding, mathematical achievement, general behaviour and any topic you would wish to mention.

The only disadvantage of this would be that it would need you to go to a computer for a period of time to type your thoughts, or for the practitioner to use an expensive smartphone with app to do it on the fly. This could only be solved by the inclusion of a specifically purposed hardware device sold by this mythical company using this idea.

Anyway. I am loosing a little bit of steam. There was more, but as I mentioned the shower has a way of generating ideas whilst also washing them away. Any thoughts?
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