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Ministry of Education statement [1]

Our thinking about effective pedagogy is informed by the Ministry of Education statement on the subject but also incorporates important learning from the Queensland New Basics Project on 'productive pedagogies':

Usually known as ‘teaching’ the pedagogies used in the school are comprehensive and do not focus on just one aspect of teaching. They require attention to many essential aspects of classroom teaching. Our current belief about teaching is that it is a cluster of activities undertaken by the teacher to ensure learning and includes:

  • Organising
  • Facilitating
  • Inspiring
  • Motivating
  • Supporting
  • Guiding
  • Informing

Productive Pedagogy refines the notion of teaching and takes existing techniques and learning concepts, and groups them into a simple model comprising four 'dimensions':

  • Intellectual quality
  • Relevance (or connectedness)
  • Socially supportive classroom environment
  • Recognition of difference.

The measurement and evaluation of these factors, combined with the increased awareness of teachers of the most effective techniques, contributes to their success as classroom tools.

Enhancing intellectual quality involves recognising that knowledge isn't a fixed body of information. This idea is consistent with Gilbert’s ideas about knowledge. It encourages students in higher-order thinking and has a problematic approach to knowledge which involves communicating ideas and arguments as opposed to a 'giving' approach. It's about getting students to do learning work rather than busy work, but most of all it's about engaging students in big ideas and complex understandings.

Relevance (or connectedness) is simply helping students to make connections between different aspects of school learning as well as connections to their past experiences and the world beyond the classroom.

A socially supportive classroom environment is one where students are able to influence activities and how they are implemented. It also involves a high degree of self-regulation by students. It's about making sure the classroom supports learning. It's not just making it a warm, happy place to be, but an environment that has high expectations of students and which encourages them to take risks in learning.

Recognition of difference encompasses inclusivity of non-dominant groups, and positively developing and recognising differences and group identities. Here, it's important to be conscious of ways teachers can support students who come from non-dominant groups, to be aware of how to best support their learning.

Intellectual quality refers to the level at which students are engaged in authentic learning activities that promote the kind of thinking required of successful adults in the real world. Tasks and instruction with high levels of intellectual quality typically include features such as:

  1. Complex problems or issues
  2. Real-world tasks
  3. Higher-order thinking
  4. Sustained classroom discourse
  5. Elaborated communication
  6. Inquiry leading to in-depth understanding

We want to ensure that students manipulate information and ideas in ways which transform their meaning and implications, understand that knowledge is not a fixed body of information, and can coherently communicate ideas, concepts, arguments and explanations with rich detail. We want students, teachers and families to engage in:

  • Higher order thinking - students will manipulate information and ideas in ways that transform their meaning and implications
  • Deep knowledge –concerns the central ideas of a topic or discipline that is judged to be crucial to the topic or discipline. Relatively complex connections are established to central concepts
  • Substantive conversation - there is considerable teacher-students and student-student interaction about the ideas of a substantive topic; the interaction is reciprocal, and it promotes coherent shared understanding
  • Knowledge as problematic – understand that knowledge is not a fixed body of information, but rather is in the process of being constructed, and as such is subject to political, social and cultural influences and implications.
  • Multiple, contrasting, and potentially conflicting forms of knowledge are represented
  • Metalanguage - has high levels of talk about talk and writing, about how written and spoken texts work, about specific technical vocabulary and words (vocabulary), about how sentences work or don't work (syntax/grammar), about meaning structures and text structures (semantics/genre), about issues how discourses and ideologies work in speech and writing

Connectedness Adults in diverse fields must construct knowledge through disciplined inquiry that uses knowledge, skills, and technology. Results of the disciplined inquiry can be expressed in written, symbolic, and oral discourse, by making things (bridges for example) and in performances for audiences. These expressions and products have value beyond schools. Thus, we want to ensure that students engage with real, practical or hypothetical problems which connect to the world beyond the classroom, which are not restricted by subject boundaries and which are linked to their prior knowledge. To that end we expect that:

  • Knowledge integration - explicit attempts are made to connect two or more sets of subject area knowledge, or when no subject area boundaries are readily seen.

Topics or problems which either require knowledge from multiple areas, or which have no clear subject areas basis in the first place are indicators of curricula which integrate school subject knowledge.

  • Background knowledge will be recognised and used - lessons will provide students with opportunities to make connections between their linguistic, cultural, world knowledge and experience and the topics, skills and competencies at hand.
  • What children learn will show connectedness with the ‘real’ world - the lesson has value and meaning beyond the instructional context, making a connection to the larger social context within which students live. This will involve the study or solving of a real-world public problem; lessons that focus directly upon or builds upon students' actual experiences or situations.
  • The curriculum will be problem based - lessons in which students are presented with a specific practical, real, or hypothetical problem (or set of problems) to solve will be conducted. Problems are defined as having no specified correct solution, requiring knowledge construction on the part of the students, and requiring sustained attention beyond a single lesson.

Supportive Classroom Environment We want to ensure that students influence the nature of the activities they undertake, engage seriously in their study, regulate their behaviour, and know of the explicit criteria and high expectations of what they are to achieve.

  • Student direction - students influence what specific activities or tasks they will do in the period, or how these will be realised. Such activities are likely to be student-centred, as in group work or individual research or investigative projects
  • Social support - the teacher supports students by conveying high expectations for all students. These expectations include: that it is necessary to take risks and try hard to master challenging academic work, that all members of the class can learn important knowledge and skills, and that a climate of mutual respect among all members of the class contributes to achievement by all. Mutual respect means that students with less skill or proficiency in a subject are treated in ways that continue to encourage them and make their presence valued. If disagreement or conflict develops in the classroom, the teacher helps students resolve it in a constructive way for all concerned.
  • Academic engagement - on-task behaviours that signal a serious psychological investment in class work; these include attentiveness, doing the assigned work, and showing enthusiasm for this work by taking initiative to raise questions, contribute to group activities and help peers
  • Explicit quality performance criteria - frequent, detailed and specific statements about what it is students are to do, to achieve. This may involve overall statements regarding tasks or assignments, or about performance at different stages in a lesson
  • Self-regulation – Children are in control of their own behaviour and there is virtually no teacher talk which focuses on student behaviour or movement. The lesson proceeds without interruption.

Valuing of Diversity We want to ensure that students know about and value a range of cultures, create positive human relationships, respect individuals, and help to create a sense of community. Children will have opportunities to develop understandings of other cultures

  • Cultural knowledge - explicit valuing of their identity represented in such things as beliefs, languages, practices, ways of knowing.
  • The principle of inclusion will be followed - the degree to which non-dominant groups are represented in classroom practices by participation.
  • Narrative - a sequence of events chained together. The use of narrative in lessons is identified by an emphasis in teaching and in student responses on structures and forms. The use of narratives in the form of personal stories, biographies, historical accounts, literary and cultural texts
  • Group identity - create learning communities in which difference and group identities are positively recognised and developed within a collaborative and supportive classroom community. Differences and group identities are positively developed and recognised while at the same time a sense of community is created.
  • The teacher elaborates the meaning of active citizenship and facilitates its practice both within the classroom and outside.

Key resources we rely on:
NZEI "The Connected Curriculum";

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