Newsletter 93 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 5 - Knowledge as problematic

Are students critically examining texts, ideas and knowledge?


Presenting knowledge as problematic involves an understanding of knowledge not as a fixed body of information, but rather as being constructed, and hence subject to political, social and cultural influences and implications. Multiple contrasting and potentially conflicting forms of knowledge are represented. Presenting knowledge as given is representing the subject content as immutable fact: as a body of truth to be acquired by students. The transmission of the information may vary, but is based on the concept of knowledge as being static and able to be handled as property, perhaps in the form of tables, charts, handouts, texts and comprehension activities.


1. As an introductory lesson to a topic about the environment, a Year 8 Social Science teacher drew a long horizontal line across the blackboard and wrote ‘very concerned’ at one end and ‘not concerned’ at the other end. She asked each student to place a mark on the line representing their degree of concern about the environment. This required each student to make a ‘low-key’ public statement about their position and then to justify it in writing under the heading ‘Why I chose my position’. The teacher made a number of statements that could be interpreted as supporting multiple positions, thus reinforcing that there was no single correct position. Anticipating that divergent and potentially conflicting views would surface during the activity, the teacher skilfully and continually kept opening the discussion up by reinforcing the complexity of the issues and the need to consider multiple viewpoints and experiences.

2. Students engaged in collaborative discussion about what it means to be an Australian. They were given a range of texts presenting contrasting positions, including ‘My Country’ by Dorothea Mackellar, ‘Advance Australia Fair, The New True Anthem’ by Kevin Gilbert (Aboriginal activist and writer) and ‘The Past’ by Oodgeroo Noonuccal. The students discussed the dominant messages in the texts and the linguistic features that supported these messages. They were asked to provide feedback on whose interests were served and whose interests marginalised by the different texts.

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