Newsletter 88 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 1 - Higher-order thinking 

Are students using higher-order thinking operations within a critical framework?


Higher-order thinking by students involves the transformation of information and ideas. This transformation occurs when students combine facts and ideas and synthesise, generalise, explain, hypothesise or arrive at some conclusion or interpretation. Manipulating information and ideas through these processes allows students to solve problems, gain understanding and discover new meanings. When students engage in the construction of knowledge, an element of

uncertainty is introduced into the instructional process and the outcomes are not always predictable; in other words, the teacher is not certain what the students will produce. In helping students become producers of knowledge, the teacher’s main instructional task is to create activities or environments that allow them opportunities to engage in higher-order thinking.

Lower-order thinking occurs when students are asked to receive or recite factual information or to employ rules and algorithms through repetitive routines. Students are given pre-specified knowledge ranging from simple facts and information to more complex concepts. Such knowledge is conveyed to students through a reading, work sheet, lecture or other direct instructional medium. The instructional process is to simply transmit knowledge or practise procedural routines. Students are in a similar role when they are reciting previously acquired knowledge: for example responding to test-type questions. More complex activities may still involve reproducing knowledge if students are required to follow only predetermined steps and routines, or employ algorithms in a rote fashion.


The topic of a Maths lesson was classification and grouping generally, and more specifically set theory. The teacher brought in a range of diverse objects. Students, in groups, had to categorise the objects according to criteria that they determined themselves. At the end of that part of the lesson, the groups rotated around the classroom and in groups suggested the basis of each classification. The teacher then gave two hula-hoops to each group and asked them to place the objects into overlapping sets, so that objects in the overlapping or intersection set had characteristics in common with the objects within each of the hoops. The groups did this and again rotated and discussed the basis of the classification. The basis of the classification could be, for example, that the objects were all yellow, or all dirty, or all cubes. Students simply had to articulate reasons and justify their classifications. The lesson concluded with the teacher making comments regarding the use of symbolic representations in Maths.

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