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Newsletter 90 Classroom Pedagogies

The following series of newsletters (1-20) are based on a fantastic guide teaching classroom pedagogies, teaching and learning strategies for teachers in the classroom.

A guide to...

Productive Pedagogies Classroom reflection manual

This booklet has been adapted from the Classroom Observation Booklet by New Basics Branch and the Queensland School Reform Longitudinal Study (QSRLS) commissioned by Education Queensland

© The State of Queensland (Department of Education) 2002

Teachers should use the Productive Pedagogies framework to consider:

• Are all the students I teach, regardless of background, engaged in intellectually challenging and relevant curriculum in a supportive environment?

• How do my teaching and assessment practices support or hinder this?

• What opportunities do I have to critically reflect upon my work with colleagues?


This manual may be used to assist teachers with:

• reflecting on current classroom practices

• generating a professional language

• designing curriculum and learning experiences

• making intelligent decisions about individual students’ needs.


SUMMARY OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (You can follow the topics 1-20 across the four dimensions)


Intellectual quality

Higher-order thinking (1)

Deep knowledge (2)

Deep understanding (3)

Substantive conversation (4)

Knowledge as problematic (5)

Metalanguage (6)


DIMENSION 2 [7-11]

Supportive classroom environment

Student direction (7)

Social support (8)

Academic engagement (9)

Explicit quality performance criteria (10)

Self-regulation (11)


DIMENSION 3 [12-16] Recognition of difference

Cultural knowledge (12)

Inclusivity (13)

Narrative (14)

Group identity (15)

Active citizenship (16)


DIMENSION 4 [17-20]


Knowledge integration (17)

Background knowledge (18)

Connectedness to the world (19)

Problem-based curriculum (20)



DIMENSION 1 - Intellectual quality

The early self-fulfilling prophecy studies (Rist, 1970) and studies of streaming and tracking (Oakes, Gamoran & Page, 1992), show that one of the main reasons some students do not achieve high academic performances is that schools do not always require students to perform work of high intellectual quality. Conversely, Newmann and Associates (1996) suggest that when students from all backgrounds are expected to perform work of high intellectual quality, overall student academic performance increases and equity gaps diminish, relative to conventional teaching practices. From this research, we would generalise that a focus on high intellectual quality is necessary for all students to perform well academically.

Topic 3 - Deep understanding

Do the work and responses of the students demonstrate a deep understanding of concepts or ideas?


Students develop deep understanding when they grasp the relatively complex relationships between the central concepts of a topic or discipline. Instead of being able to recite only fragmented pieces of information, they understand the topic in a relatively systematic, integrated or holistic way. As a result of their deep understanding, they can produce new knowledge by discovering relationships, solving problems, constructing explanations and drawing conclusions.

Students have only shallow understanding when they do not or cannot use knowledge to make clear distinctions, present arguments, solve problems or develop more complex understanding of other related phenomena.


An art class worked collaboratively on a submission to design a three-dimensional installation for a public space with a youth theme. The collaborative nature of the task required extended dialogue between the students and their teacher to develop shared ideas, concepts, themes and design elements. Because the installation was planned for a public space, they also consulted local government officers. The students demonstrated deep understanding at each stage of the project: the specifications of the design brief, the sourcing of materials, the timeframe for constructing the installation and the preparation of the submission. The students’ final proposal was supported by reasoned and creative explanations of the installation’s aesthetic and functional appeal. The students needed very little direction from the teacher. They were engaged in the project in ways that demonstrated their complete understanding of what was expected of them; and they showed insight in their artistic explanation of the work.