Pedagogical approaches

The West Leederville Way

PEDAGOGICAL APPROACHES

‘The West Leederville Way’ pedagogical approaches have been chosen as they are evidence-based, high impact teaching strategies.  While these approaches will not look exactly the same in every lesson, evidence suggests they work well in most, and our teachers are encouraged and supported to apply these strategies across all learning areas.

Selecting from approaches that range from thinking strategies to effective technology integration, our teachers design learning experiences that cater to the wide variety of learning needs that our students present each day. The use of consistent approaches and strategies ensures our students can seamlessly move from lesson to lesson, teacher to teacher, and year to year, with confidence.

Visible Learning

Much of the WLW is underpinned by the well-known Visible Learning research of John Hattie. His most recent research synthesises 1400 meta-analyses relating to the influences on achievement in school-aged children. It presents the largest ever collection of evidence-based research into what actually works (and doesn’t work) to increase student achievement. He uses effect sizes to compare the impact of many influences on student achievement, where an effect size of 0.4 represents one year’s growth over the course of one school year. An effect size of greater that 0.4 indicates the potential for accelerated achievement.

The staff at WLPS understands the factors that have the highest impact on student achievement. They use this information to contribute to strategic decision-making around the future directions of the school, when collaboratively developing and refining whole-school plans, and when planning lessons. Some of the top influences from Hattie’s studies, their most recent effect sizes, and a summary of how they are incorporated into the WLW include: 

Thinking Skills

The use of thinking skills is a key component of the WLW. Visible thinking, critical and creative thinking, and higher-order thinking skills are explicitly taught and embedded across the learning areas. We strive to develop learners who are intelligent thinkers.

Explicit Instructions & Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) Model

Co-operative Learning

Co-operative learning is a social instructional strategy which enables teachers to create rich and varied learning environments. It occurs when students work in small groups and all participate in a learning task by actively negotiating roles, responsibilities and outcomes.  Co-operative groups have five elements: positive interdependence, individual accountability, face-to-face interaction, social skills and processing.

The WLW encourages teachers to incorporate a range of co-operative learning structures into all learning areas, to carefully engineer student interactions for learning – to ensure they are effective co-operative groups. Some examples of the co-operative structures used include: think pair share, say and switch, round-robin, three-step interview, corners, graffiti, and jigsaw. As WLPS students are familiar with the function of the co-operative learning structures, the time taken to explain them is minimal.

Research demonstrates that the effective implementation of co-operative learning can result in higher self-esteem, higher achievement, increased retention, greater social support, more on-task behaviour, greater collaboration and development of collaborative skills, greater intrinsic motivation, increased perspective taking, better attitudes towards school and teachers, and the use of higher level reasoning (Johnson, Johnson & Holubec 1990).

The effect sizes related to co-operative learning include:

  • Jigsaw method 1.2
  • Peer tutoring 0.53
  • Reciprocal teaching 0.74
  • Small group learning 0.49
  • Co-operative learning v whole class instruction 0.41
  • Co-operative learning vs individual work 0.55
  • Co-operative learning vs competitive learning 0.54

Collaborative Team Teaching

Collaborative team-teaching at WLPS is an approach to curriculum delivery where two teachers, often with timetabled EA assistance, share teaching responsibilities within a classroom setting. Collaborative team-teaching is a long-standing approach to teaching and has been practised in many schools, for many years.

Collaborative teaching at WLPS is always done by choice. If teachers choose to teach collaboratively, they will use their professional knowledge to contextualise their teaching program to suit their students and the curriculum. They may teach collaboratively in just one or two learning areas, or open the doors between their classrooms to create a larger ‘open classroom’. When collaborative team-teaching occurs, the ultimate responsibility for curriculum delivery, assessment and reporting of all students within a form group still lies with the individual teacher of that form class.

The success of collaborative teaching is dependent on the teachers, their ability to provide support for each other, the compatibility of their individual teaching styles and strengths, and their use of common approaches to teaching. It is for these reasons that collaborative teaching is often a choice our teachers make, if they are teaching in a year level with a ‘compatible’ colleague.

Teachers at WLPS believe that the benefits of collaborative team-teaching may include:

  • the opportunity to work in close collaboration, further to the opportunities that can be provided by the school in the form of Phase-of-Learning meetings and collaborative planning time,
  • the ability to use learning spaces more flexibly,
  • more flexibility with student groupings and an enhanced ability to differentiate the curriculum. This, in fact, results in more contact with a teacher – especially when students are arranged into ability groups,
  • the ability to use different models of teaching,
  • the greater opportunity to learn from a colleague/to provide feedback – especially if the teachers have different strengths. Ultimately, if teachers are paired effectively and schools have a strong performance-improvement culture (which WLPS does), this can result in improved teacher performance.
  • more continual, rigorous student assessment/diagnosis of learning needs and excellent moderation practices. This includes constant informal discussions about student needs/progress.

Other benefits include:

  • Students act more cooperatively with others, students are exposed to the views of more than one teacher (Goetz, 2000).
  • The variety of teaching approaches used by the team-teachers can reach a greater variety of learning (Brandenburg 1997)
  • The cooperation that the students observe between team teachers serves as a model for teaching students positive teamwork skills and attitudes. Benefits of team teaching include higher achievement, greater retention, improved interpersonal skills and an increase in regard for group work for both students and teachers (Robinson and Schaible, 1995)
  • Team-teaching provides opportunities for teachers to work differently in teams to collectively address diverse learners’ needs (Mackey, O’Reilly, Jansen & Fletcher, 2016)
  • Attention to developmentally appropriate educational experience at all age levels, and the development of high order technological skills with interactive media cannot be achieved effectively within an isolated, individualised teaching model (Leggett & Hoyle 1987; Purkey & Smith, 1983; Rosenholtz & Kyle 1984)
  • Teachers who traditionally control what was happening in their own class now consider what is happening in other classes and benefit from exposure to flexible classrooms (Bergen, 2012).

Technology Integration – the SAMR Model

As a Technologies Teacher Development School (TDS), WLPS prides itself on the effective integration of technologies, including iPads as part of the BYOD program.

A key feature of the WLW is the use of the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition (SAMR) model. This model is a four-level approach for selecting, using and evaluating technology in K-12 settings. It is underpinned by the premise that the mere presence of digital tools in the classroom does not result in effective technology integration.

According to the Department of Education WA, technology integration at the substitution or augmentation levels only slightly enhances student learning. Although students may be engaged while using technology, the use of the device remains defined and limited. This can be thought of as ‘using technology just for the sake of using it’. In contrast, when technology is used at the modification or redefinition levels, it can promote higher-order thinking, the use of creative and critical thinking skills, problem-solving and collaboration. Ultimately, technology integration in the two highest phases results in transformational learning.

At WLPS, teachers aim to transform learning by significantly redesigning tasks or creating new tasks that were previously inconceivable. Those that are part of BYOD classrooms plan to regularly use iPads in ways that modify or redefine learning experiences. Our teachers use the SAMR model to plan for the use of technologies across the learning areas, and to critique their use of technologies.

The following table explains the SAMR continuum and provides examples as to how technology may be used at each of the different levels in a literacy program. It is courtesy of Ruben R. Puentedura, Ph.D., as cited by the DoE.

the SAMR continuum

The effect sizes related to technology integration include:

  • technology with students with special learning needs 0.57
  • technology in other learning areas 0.55
  • intelligent tutoring systems (Reading eggs, Maths Space) 0.48
  • technology in writing 0.42
  • technology in maths 0.33
  • technology in reading 0.29
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