Module 4.2 Knowing students as players and learners

Getting to know students: informal and formal assessments

Play-based and inquiry learning supports teachers to know the child as a player and a learner. When engaging in play, students, regardless of their abilities or backgrounds, can engage in learning in ways which authentically support them to demonstrate what they know, understand and can do. Other ways teachers can collect information about their students is through conversations with families and more formalised assessment processes and tools.

The results from these tools add to teachers' knowledge of students, drawn from classroom observations and interactions and provide detailed and specific information to enable teachers to design and provide play-based and inquiry learning experiences that are differentiated and inclusive.

Available tools and resources 

There are a number of tools and resources available to support Foundation teachers to develop accurate and useful learner profiles to inform instructional planning and program delivery, including:

Interacting with multiple layers of differentiated teaching

There are many connections between differentiated teaching strategies and play-based and inquiry learning that are evident and emerge organically as the play develops. In the following interactive video, Foundation teacher Kelly shares her practice and the "different layers within activities".

As you are watching this, listen to how she promotes high expectations for every child and think about how this practice encourages positive learning dispositions and intrinsic motivation for her students. Think about the teaching strategies that are evident in Kelly's practice by engaging with the interactive questions within the video.


Reflecting on Kelly's practice

In the above video, Kelly talks about how she incorporates "different layers within activities" to enable students with different abilities and learning needs to engage with shared learning intentions. As part of the interactive experience, there are prompts in the video that ask you to imagine some of the ways that you might differentiate the learning process, content and outcomes to respond to the specific needs of particular learners. 

Through observing students engaged in play-based and inquiry learning, teachers find out more about students as learners. For example:

        • what students freely choose to do,
        • who they freely choose to do it with, and
        • how they choose to do it.

These observations provide teachers with authentic evidence of students existing funds of knowledge, preferred ways of learning, dispositions and capabilities. When students are engaged in play-based and inquiry learning, the wider group of learners also engage with and build an understanding of each other. They learn about their differences, strengths, and ways to build an inclusive classroom community.