Looking at children's work

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Children’s participation in various SPHE activities, both formal and informal provides a flow of information about their progress in the SPHE curriculum. This information is crucial to the teacher’s professional judgement about how successfully pupils are learning and in enabling him/her to help children to learn more effectively. A number of techniques will be used in collecting and recording information about pupil’s progress in SPHE. Each has its contribution to make in assisting the teacher in assessing progress, identifying strengths and difficulties, communicating to the pupil, parents and others and in planning further learning experiences for the child.


Teacher observation

Teacher observation is one of the most important tools of assessment in SPHE. Aspects of children’s learning that teachers notice while SPHE topics and issues are explored and taught provide both immediate and essential information about each child’s learning. As the teacher observes the children in their everyday interactions and conversations in the class, he/she can take note of the ways in which they can work with others, the types of questions asked and the level of interest and self-confidence displayed. In observing children interacting with each other, both inside and outside the classroom, the teacher can discover those children who are able to relate effectively to others and those who may need help in developing social skills and abilities.


It is helpful for the teacher to keep some notes on his/her informal observations of children as they work and interact.


Portfolios and projects

Many samples of work will emerge from the activities carried out by the children. Where these are gathered in a portfolio compiled by the child they become a useful source for assessing children’s understanding and skills. Portfolios can range from a simple folder or wallet to a scrapbook or file. Throughout the year there will be many examples of work carried out by the children, and a selected sample can be chosen for inclusion in the portfolio that will ultimately be assessed by the teacher. The sample chose, either by the child or the teacher should represent a variety of work indicating the child’s progress in and experience of various strands of the curriculum. This collection will allow the teacher to make a professional informed judgement about the child’s progress and his/her readiness for further learning experiences.


Projects that are carried out in the class by an individual or groups of children are also a useful means of assessing children’s understanding and their skill and attitudinal development on a particular topic. The teacher can note the information gathered, the methods of research used, the way the children worked together, the styles of presentation and the facility with which children answered questions related to their project.


Both portfolios and projects have a role to play in providing the teacher with information to communicate to parents about the child’s progress. They are also helpful in ascertaining children’s ability to set individual or group goals and targets and the ways in which they were or were not achieved. They may also contribute to the teachers planning, indicating certain difficulties, the limitations and strengths of particular approaches, or the content that is well covered and which may need further consolidation and exploration.