Curriculum/Assessing children and IEPs

The curriculum at the College of Education Early Childhood Center (COE-ECC) is based on children's interests and is guided by the framework provided by the Michigan Department of Education's Early Childhood Standards of Quality for Prekindergarten. Experiences that support the social, emotional, linguistic, cognitive and physical development of the individual child are addressed throughout the day.

Components of the approach include:

  • Children are involved in structured investigations about real world topics. The topic for investigation may be generated by children or by teachers.
  • Investigations are done over a period of time. Some may last a day or two and some may last several weeks. Encouraging children to investigate on their own timeline, allows them to make the most of their learning.
  • Emphasis is placed on "learning how to learn" rather than simply learning a collection of facts and skills. Children are provided multiple opportunities to develop individual questions for the investigations.
  • Children and teachers work together to research the topics under investigation and find ways to share what they have learned.

The COE-ECC incorporates these ideas using the Project Approach (Katz & Helm, 2001). In the classrooms you will see evidence of the Project Approach as:

  • Children participate in whole and small group projects that incorporate their interests where they are encouraged to explore, discuss, and research topics. These extended learning experiences offer children the opportunity to revisit, reflect, plan, and develop new understandings. Consequently, the curriculum is flexible and evolving, changing as children's interests and understandings change.
  • Children communicate their knowledge/ideas/understandings through symbolic representations (e.g., drawing, painting, singing, dancing, writing, talking, etc.). These forms of expression are used to enhance children's cognitive, linguistic social, emotional, and physical development.
  • Teachers document, interpret, and evaluate children's thinking and learning using photographs, transcriptions of conversations, and children's symbolic representations. This documentation is used by teachers and children as a tool for reflecting upon what the children are learning as they participate in project work; and
  • The learning environment is viewed as the "third teacher" and is carefully organized to encourage exploration and communication among children, teachers, and parents (Cadwell, 1997).

Assessing Children & IEPs - Individualized Education Program

Assessing Children

Children's growth and development are assessed through the portfolio process. A portfolio is a collection of work samples, photos, and anecdotal observations that have been carefully selected to represent the growth of the whole child (including efforts, progress, and achievements) over time. This form of authentic assessment does not disrupt a child's play in the classroom. In fact, in an early childhood classroom using authentic assessment, there should be no distinction between teaching and assessment.

The contents of children's portfolios include:

  • Anecdotal Observations
  • Work Samples
  • Photographs
    • Writing Samples
      "This is How I Write My Name" (monthly)
      Informal Collection of Writing
  • Drawing Samples
    • "Draw a Person" Samples (3 - 4 times a year)
      Informal Collection of Drawing
  • Developmental Checklists
  • Creative Curriculum Developmental Continuum for Ages 3 - 5

The Creative Curriculum Developmental Continuum is a checklist used by teachers three times per year. This checklist is used along with the contents of the portfolio to report a child's growth and development. The Creative Curriculum Developmental Continuum assesses the following:

  • Social/Emotional Development
    • Sense of Self
    • Responsibility for Self and Others
    • Prosocial Behavior
  • Physical Development
    • Gross Motor
    • Fine Motor
  • Cognitive Development
    • Learning and Problem Solving
    • Logical Thinking
    • Representation and Symbolic Thinking
  • Language Development
    • Listening and Speaking
    • Reading and Writing

Additional developmental checklists are used to assess the following:

  • Cognitive and Social Levels of Play
  • Stages of Block Building
  • Stages of Symbolic Development in Art
  • Stages of Written Language Development
  • Directionality of Writing
  • Science Skills
  • Mathematical Skills

IEPs - Individualized Education Program

IEPs are individualized education programs designed to meet the unique needs of children who have been identified as having a disability and needing special education and related services. The IEP process is as follows:

  • Child is identified as possibly needing special education and related services.
  • Child is evaluated.
  • Eligibility for special education and related services is decided.
  • Child is found eligible for services.
  • IEP meeting is scheduled. Participants include the parents and the school staff.
  • IEP meeting is held and the IEP is written.
  • Services are provided.
  • Progress is measured and reported to parents.
  • IEP is reviewed.
  • Child is reevaluated at least every three years.

Each child's IEP is different. The document is prepared for that child only. It describes the individualized education program designed to meet that child's needs.