Kei Tua o te Pae
Kei Tua o te Pae/Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars is a best-practice guide that will help teachers continue to improve the quality of their teaching.
The exemplars are a series of books that will help teachers to understand and strengthen children's learning. It also shows how children, parents and whānau can contribute to this assessment and ongoing learning.
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An example of assessments using the three lenses
In Book 4 of this series, “Jak builds a wharenui” is an exemplar of children making a contribution to their own assessment.
"Jak approached me in the back room and asked if I could help him build something. We sat down together and talked about what he would like to build. Jak started to put a base down. “What could this be, Maya?” Jak asked me. “I’m not sure, but maybe it’s the floor of a building,” I replied. “Look around you, Jak. What could this be?”
Jak carefully looked at the pictures on the wall. “I know, it can be a Māori house,” he said. “Do you mean a wharenui?” I asked. “Yes,” he said, pointing to the photos on the wall. I brought out my book New Zealand Aotearoa by Bob McCree. Jak looked through the book. “My wharenui has lots of people, like the picture.” Jak used the tall rounded blocks as people. “Why does it have a triangle pointy roof?” Jak asked. I explained to Jak that the wharenui was like a person and the posts on the roof were its back and spine, with lots of bones so it’s strong and can stand. Jak continued to ask, “So it’s like a skeleton?”
Jak did a lot of problem solving during this learning experience as he had to work out how he was going to balance the “ribs” so they could stand up and be pointed. Jak tried all sorts of blocks and decided to build a tall pile in the middle so that the ribs could lean on them."
Analysis from a lens focused on assessment practices
Jak uses pictures as a reference point against which to assess his construction for himself: he is able to make his own judgment about the quality of his block building. The ambitious design also provides its own evaluation: the roof, delicately balanced to come to a point, doesn’t collapse. This is an example of self-assessment. It is also an example of the teacher writing down an occasion when she says “I’m not sure”, modelling for Jak that being uncertain is part of the process of learning (and teaching). She includes her own voice here, setting the assessment in the context of the interaction between teacher and learner. The teacher and Jak have recognised the opportunity for the photos on the wall and in the book to add meaning and complexity to Jak’s building. The teacher’s responses to Jak’s questions contribute to the meaning making, and she records the episode so that it can be revisited.
Analysis from a lens based on Te Whāriki
This is an exemplar of learning that is distributed across or “stretched” over people, places, and things: the teacher, the place (in this case the photograph of a place), and the things (the blocks). Jak appears to be exploring how three-dimensional objects can be fitted together and moved in space, also ways in which spatial information can be represented in photographs and used as a guide for building. Jak uses analogy (it’s like a skeleton) to make sense of the teacher’s explanation. This exploration is what architects do and, in this case, what traditional Māori architects do, following the pathways and designs of those who have gone before. It may be that this event will be followed by a trip to a wharenui, or a visit from a Māori elder to explain more about the symbolic nature of the architecture and the whare whakairo, strengthening the view that Jak belongs in a wider bicultural world.
Analysis from a lens focused on symbol systems and technologies for making meaning
As Hirini Melbourne has explained above, exploration of the wharenui is an opportunity to introduce the language and symbolism of whakairo. Here, Jak is calling on an example of written literacy – a book – to add to his knowledge, as well as referring to a photograph on the wall. He asks, “Why does it have a triangle pointy roof?”, and the teacher replies in terms of the symbolism of the design rather than the spatial mathematics of architecture; however, Jak is also exploring for himself the strength of a triangle as an element of architecture.