Newsletter 94 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 6: Metalanguage

Are aspects of language, grammar and technical vocabulary being given prominence?


High-metalanguage instruction incorporates frequent discussion about talk and writing, about how written and spoken texts work, about specific technical vocabulary and words, about how sentences work or don’t work (syntax/grammar), about meaning structures and text structures (semantics/genre), and about how discourses and ideologies work in speech and writing. Teachers choose teaching moments within activities, assignments, readings and lessons to focus on particular words, sentences, text features, discourses and so on.

Low-metalanguage instruction has little explicit discussion of talk and writing, about how written and spoken texts work, about their features, characteristics, patterns, genres or discourses. The emphasis is simply on doing text-based activities.


1. An English class was being introduced to the concept of ‘discourse’. The teacher asked the students to examine how medical, legal and mechanical languages operate within particular contexts to suit speakers, listeners and subjects. The students gave some concrete examples of these and described how power operates in each situation and is closely aligned with knowledge.

By reversing the speaker and the listener, students were able to consider alternative discourses and to examine how power relations can be disrupted. There was consistent use of metalanguage throughout as the teacher and students examined how discourses constitute texts, knowledge and power.

2. A math class was manipulating statistics to suit the needs of various stakeholders. In the lesson they examined how the same data could be interpreted from multiple viewpoints to suit varying purposes.

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