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Explicit teaching mandate – a pushback now is critical

The critical pushback suggested in the title of this blog is a pushback against the concept that one pedagogical strategy can meet the needs of the diverse range of learners found in the 2200 schools in NSW. The author, Associate Professor Jill Brown, has published widely and is internationally recognised for her research in mathematics education. She argues that explicit teaching is only one aspect of the pedagogical approach of successful teachers who use their expertise to select from a range of teaching strategies which will engage their students and develop student agency in their own learning.

Key words: explicit instruction, theories of learning, mathematics education, high impact teaching strategies, teacher expertise
Touchstones: 2, 6, 7, 8, 9,10

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Misty Adoniou, The Teacher's Toolkit for Literacy Podcasts

Cue Learning website.

 Podcast 1

 Podcast 2

In these two Cue Learning Teacher's Toolkit for Literacy Podcasts, Adjunct Associate Professor Misty Adoniou provides a comprehensive overview of evidence-based teaching, emphasising its fundamental principles rooted in scientific methodology. She underscores the importance of observable positive learning outcomes as the cornerstone of evidence-based teaching. She highlights the importance of understanding learning theories and criticises the neglect of Australia's educational history. Adoniou urges teachers to trust their expertise and advocate for evidence-based practices.

Key words: Evidence-based teaching  Educational research Educational scientific methodology  Literacy learning theories  Teacher expertise

Touchstones: 1, 6, 8, 9, 10


The Sciences of Learning and the Practice of Teaching

Guy Claxton

This blog post by Guy Claxton provides a handy ‘crib-sheet’ outlining some areas of contention and misunderstanding around the Sciences of Learning and their impact on teaching practice. Claxton reminds educators that, in reality, the craft of teaching involves a ‘judicious and dynamic’ mixture of both explanation and exploration and that effective teachers are sensitive and responsive to a variety of factors that determine their pedagogical choices.

Key words: Science of learning  Explicit teaching  Cognitive science

Engaging Methods for Exploring ‘Funds of Identity’ in Early Childhood Contexts

D’warte, J., & Woodrow, C. (2023). Engaging Methods for Exploring ‘Funds of Identity’ in Early Childhood Contexts. Education Sciences 13(1), 4.

D’warte and Woodrow draw on data collected across two countries, Australia and Chili, where children attending the early years of school worked in creative ways with their educators through arts-based methods. Children were assumed to be researchers, with their educators learning more about them through research partnerships. In the Australian context, language mapping and bilingual storytelling were utilised as strategies to help children to represent their strengths, and their lives. In the Chilian context, arts-based approaches were utilised to bring more family experiences into the education contexts as a way to improve educators’ understandings about the children that they were teaching. Strategies such as technology-enabled travelling media, families’ literacies trees and Literacy Cafes were utilised and all are described within this paper. All of the strategies and arts-based approaches were focused on improving educators’ knowledge of the lives of the children that they taught as a way to improve inclusive teaching and learning practices in schools.

Keywords: Literacies and languages  Arts-based approaches Children Families  Communities

Activate Deep Learning and Lift from Loss

Drummy, M., Fullan, M., Gardner, M., Quinn, J. New Pedagogies for Deep Learning Global Partnership. 2021

This article provides a fresh re-framing of the deficit language around the return to on campus learning for schools across the globe and provokes educators to ‘resist the quick fix’. Instead, the authors pose ‘we must seize this unique moment to activate the students’ innate desire to connect and be curious through authentic deep learning experiences. Not only will this re-engage them in school but it will also accelerate the learning as motivation and engagement combine to lift them from learning loss. Schools and students will thrive when they embrace a unified purpose that focuses on equity, well-being and deep learning.’ The authors ‘propose educators execute 10 priorities to activate deep learning and lift students from the loss they have encountered during this fragile period. These priorities will set schools on this energizing path.’ 

Key words: Deep learning  Learning gains  Well-being Engagement  Authenticity. 

Touchstones 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10.

Teachers use many teaching approaches to impart knowledge: Pitting one against another harms education

 August 2021 Alan Reid, Professor Emeritus, University of South Australia

In this article Alan Reid challenges the dichotomy constantly raised by various academics and the media. Most recently an article in the Weekend Australian by Noel Pearson has raised this dichotomy again that ‘explicit teaching is the answer’ and we should ‘forget inquiry-based learning’.
Reid points out there are three major flaws in this argument. First, teachers use more than one approach and second, not all inquiry-based methods are the same. Finally, Reid states that the data used to justify this argument are flawed.
Keywords: Explicit teaching  Inquiry-based learning  Education debate  PISA scores

Enhancing the STEM Framework: Combining Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics with Stamina, Transdisciplinarity, Engagement and Mindfulness prepares students for real-world problems

  Manak, J. A. and Puig, E. A., 2021
Science and Children  National Science Teaching Association

The authors argue that for students to become global solution-seekers of personal and real-world issues, teachers need to foster students to become engaged, motivated, and literate citizens who are able to work across disciplines, cultures, and identities.
The article outlines a framework that builds upon traditional STEM ideas proposing that stamina, transdisciplinarity, engagement, and mindfulness are interdependent factors that support learning.
The framework is about creating conditions of learning that motivate students to look, wonder, and reflect across disciplines and to integrate their developing literacy knowledge and lived experiences as they engage in their world.
Taking these factors into account will assist in curriculum design when enhancing STEM education.
Key words: Stamina  Engagement  Mindfulness  Transdisciplinary  STEM  Project-Based Learning  Inquiry  Literacy

Australian Curriculum Review Response

28 June 2021
FFLL Response to Australian Curriculum Consultation Survey Questions

How the Science of Learning and Development Can Transform Education

May 2020
Initial Findings of the SoLD ( Science of Learning & Development) Alliance.  

This paper proposes that all children can thrive and learn when the ways in which they are educated and developed are transformed. As well as providing some important understandings about learning (see phrases that follow) it outlines 8 key findings that overlap and support learning in integrated ways. These are: Potential; Malleability: Individuality: Context; Relationships; Integration; Continuum & Meaning Making.
The paper provides an explanation of each of these elements that the reader will find useful, as is the diagram of the ways in which they integrate to support learning.
While it doesn’t have recommendations for the ways in which systems may need to be redesigned it does provide a starting point. Teachers in classrooms may already, or may begin to reflect upon these elements and weave them into their instructional practices as they continue to develop ways to support the learners in their care.
Key words/phrases:

- All children can learn and thrive.

- Every child, no matter their background, has the potential to succeed in school and life.

- No two young people learn in precisely the same ways.

- Children's ability to learn is strongly intertwined with their social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs.

- The environments, experiences and cultures of a young person's life are more influential than their genes.

- The human brain is remarkably malleable and can be changed by strong supportive relationships and the conditions they create.

Teaching Decisions That Bring the Conditions of Learning to Life

Debra Crouch and Dr Brian Cambourne

The authors have collaborated to discuss the eight Conditions of Learning that Brian has been describing for teachers for quite some time. They also discuss the importance of the Four Processes that Enable Learning in relation to the effectiveness of the conditions. Detailed explanations of the conditions and the processes are described as they would occur in classrooms in the teaching of reading and specific examples are provided to explain what would occur in Read-aloud, Shared Reading, Guided Reading and Independent Reading. Teachers will find this article extremely helpful as they think about their theory and practice about the teaching of reading. For more detailed information educators will be pleased to know that Brian and Debra have written a book,  Made for Learning - How the Conditions of Learning Guide Teaching Decisions, published by Richard Owen, 2020.

Key words: Conditions of Learning  Reading 

Why make-believe play is an important part of childhood development

Tracy Gleason in The Conversation April 2016

Young children love to engage in imaginative play. This article explains why such play is more than lots of fun: it can also be very beneficial for children’s development of their creativities, understanding of and empathy for others, and social skills. Some children also create an imaginary friend, perhaps to enable them to explore what friendship means without needing to face some of the challenges! Engaging in imaginative play with others also requires negotiation and communication skills. The role of supportive adults is also discussed.
Keywords: Imaginative play  Pretend play  Fantasy play  Imaginary friends    Childhood development   Perspective taking  Negotiation

The Teacher's Tool Kit For Literacy

Cue Learning

The Teacher’s Tool Kit For Literacy is a free podcast for motivated teachers and school leaders who want the latest tips, tricks and tools to inspire their students and school community in literacy learning. 

In each episode, the authors draw on our 30+ years of literacy teaching and consulting experience to provide you with practical insights and resources that you can apply in the classroom straight away. They also regularly bring in amazing guests to share their literacy learnings and stories.

It’s live now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other major podcast players, so  subscribe now. Check it out:

Key words: Literacy  Reading  Writing 

Seven Rules of Engagement: What’s Most Important to Know about Motivation to Read

Gambrell, Linda B. (2011) The Reading Teacher Vol.65 Issue 3 pp 172-178

International Reading Association

Linda Gambrell shares the findings from a major international study – that interest in reading predicted students’ reading comprehension and that students who enjoyed reading the most performed significantly better than students who enjoyed reading the least. Then Gambrell gives clear guidelines and practical tips about research-based classroom experiences that help all students to be intrinsically motivated to read. ‘Clearly, instruction that provides students with decoding and comprehension skills and strategies is not sufficient’ but Gambrell’s guidelines help teachers to fill the gap. It is refreshing to read about the importance of motivation and engagement in reading.

Key words: Reading  Comprehension  Engagement  Motivation  Sustained Reading  Classroom Libraries

Touchstones: 1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10 

The ALEA Literacy Declaration- 2023

In August 2015 ALEA released Literacy in 21st Century Australia: ALEA Declaration, endorsed by the ALEA National Council on behalf of the ALEA membership.
The document was developed over a substantial period of time with input from a wide variety of ALEA members and with the aim of embedding the document into ALEA's ongoing work.
In July 2023 the National Council updated the ALEA Declaration and can be viewed here.

Key words: Literacy  Equitable opportunities  Authentic assessment  Quality literature Meaning-making

Links to Touchstones: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11

Arts-Based Approaches to Languages Education with Refugee-Background Learners in the Early Years: Co-Creating Spaces of Hope

Burke, R., & Field, R. S. (2023). Arts-Based Approaches to Languages Education with Refugee-Background Learners in the Early Years: Co-Creating Spaces of Hope. Education Sciences, 13(1), 85.
In the paper, Burke and Field review recent research related to arts-based approaches to languages teaching and learning for young children who have refugee and asylum-seeker backgrounds. The paper is a strong example of a scoping review and provides some examples of research informed strategies and also implications for scholar-practitioners.

Key words: Languages education  The arts  Refugee and asylum-seeker backgrounds children

Children’s Meaning Making: Listening to Encounters with Complex Aesthetic Experience

Davis, B., & Dunn, R. (2023). Children’s Meaning Making: Listening to Encounters with Complex Aesthetic Experience. Education Sciences, 13(1), 74.

This paper describes a research project conducted by researchers in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA, Sydney, Australia). The project was designed to bring young children to the MCA in order to experience a diverse range of artworks, provide sensorial responses and engage with materials and production techniques. The focus of the project described was to understand how young children make meaning and bring meaning to art, and to consider engagement of young children in museum spaces. Much of what is described relates to young children’s language development and how this is impacted upon by arts-based experiences, with a specific focus on what the museum space enables for young children as they develop language.

Key words: Arts-based learning  Language learning   Contemporary art   Museum contexts

Arts-Based Approaches to Languages Education with Refugee-Background Learners in the Early Years: Co-Creating Spaces of Hope

Burke, R., & Field, R. S. (2023). Arts-Based Approaches to Languages Education with Refugee-Background Learners in the Early Years: Co-Creating Spaces of Hope. Education Sciences, 13(1), 85.
In the paper, Burke and Field review recent research related to arts-based approaches to languages teaching and learning for young children who have refugee and asylum-seeker backgrounds. The paper is a strong example of a scoping review and provides some examples of research informed strategies and also implications for scholar-practitioners.

Key words: Languages education The arts Refugee and asylum-seeker backgrounds children

Transition to school: children's perspectives of the literacy experiences on offer as they move from pre-school to the first year of normal schooling

Cronin, L., Kervin, L. & Mantei, J. (2022) in Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, a journal from the Australian Literacy Educators' Association

This article reports on the perspectives of two children, firstly in their preschool and then in the first formal year of school. Digital storytelling was used as the main data collection method to capture the voices of the children as they annotate images and describe their chosen literacy events in each setting. An important finding revealed in this article (and the larger study within which the paper sits) is that teachers need to better understand the literacy practices of children in preschool settings so they can be better equipped to support them as they transition to their first year of formal schooling.

Keywords: Early years Transition to school Children’s perspectives Literacy events Literacy practices

A failure at 6? Data-driven assessment isn't helping young children

The Conversation 24 November 2021 by Martina Tassone

This article cites the author’s doctoral research that found “datafication” defined early years schooling and puts a spotlight on the consequences of the expectations on teachers to undertake regular formal assessment and provide numerical data. Consequences include children as young as six being labelled a failure and teachers feeling frustrated with ‘death by assessment’ in the early years. Tassone’s research stated, ’

Key words: Early years Assessment Data Early childhood learning

Touchstones 3, 8

Using the translanguaging space to facilitate poetic representation of language and identity

Dutton J, & Rushton K. (2021) Language Teaching Research 25(1): 105-133 doi10.1177/1362168820951215

This research explores the use of the translanguaging space (Li Wei, 2017) in confirming identity and student agency and developing a creative pedagogy. It offers insights into how the translanguaging space can be used to support English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) students from low socio-economic backgrounds to develop and use all their linguistic and cultural resources in the production of Identity texts (Cummins & Early, 2011; Cummins, Hu, Markus & Montero, 2015). An Identity text can be an oral, written or multimodal text but it will be a text that connects to the students’ community and disrupts a transmission pedagogy that views the student as a blank slate (Freire,1975). By producing identity texts in the translanguaging space, students are able to choose which language or languages they will use.

Key Words: English Literacy Translanguaging Cultural Identity

Touchstones 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10.

Being with a Puppet: Literacy through Experiencing Puppetry and Drama with Young Children

Karaolis, O. (2023). Being with a Puppet: Literacy through Experiencing Puppetry and Drama with Young Children. Education Sciences, 13(2) 291.
In this article, Karaolis discusses the usefulness of using puppets when teaching young children who experience a disability literacy. Among the impacts demonstrated through the project enabled literacy learning especially in relation to encouraging the children to express their ideas, and to invite children to engage in conversations. Most interesting though is the discussion of how using – or ‘being with’ – a puppet reframed educators’ relationship building with the young children experiencing a disability. Educators reported their perceptions of the children had altered as they were encouraged to have a better understanding of the children’s non-verbal communication skills and capacities.

Keywords: Puppets  Early childhood literacy  Learning inclusion

Kids can learn more from guided play than from direct instruction, report finds

Jackie Mader The Hechinger Report March 24, 2022

This article provides a brief synopsis of the seventeen studies that reviewed play. The full study can be accessed via a link on the “Hechinger Report’ site online.

It is very interesting to note that the studies of children ages three to eight showed a tendency to function in many domains of literacy and mathematics more deeply when guided or ‘gently steered’ than those left to play ‘freely’.

 While the findings reiterate, the need as expressed by experts, that children need to engage in more play they clearly show that guided play enhances the learning domains the children engaged in.

 The definition of guided play is one that the author suggest needs more clarification and calls for more research on factors that influence guided play.

Key words: Guided play  Early childhood development  Learning goals  Hands on  Active engagement

10 Things Every Literacy Educator Should Know About Research

Nell K. Duke and Nicole M. Martin

The Reading Teacher Vol. 65 Issue 1 pp. 9–22 DOI:10.1598/RT.65.1.2 International Reading Association (now International Literacy Association) Free Access

“Research-based,” “research-proven,” “scientifically based”—in the reading world these days, it seems that the term research is being used everywhere. It is also being misused and misunderstood. The authors of this article Nell K. Duke and Nicole M. Martin,  wrote this article to argue for the value of research for literacy educators, including classroom teachers, coaches, specialists, and professors, and provide some information to help them make better use of research and, at the same time, guard against misuse as schools and teachers plan for and teach literacy. They discuss 10 things they believe every literacy educator should know about research.

Key words: Literacy research  Research-based  Research-proven  Scientifically-based  literacy improvement  Reading  Writing  Evidence for educators

Informing teaching: navigating and translating education best practice

Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (aitsl) 11 March 2021

Evidence is a contested notion and debates continue about how to best determine its quality. Besides research evidence, educators may encounter forms of evidence in their daily life through classroom observations, talking with their students and reviewing their students’ work. These forms of evidence, are legitimate, and can be considered alongside other evidence and triangulated to inform future teaching and learning decisions.
This Spotlight article published by aitsl addresses five questions to consider when navigating best practice in education:

- Quality - How supported is the research?

- Reliability, validity and design study - How robust is the research?

- Sampling - Is the sample appropriate?

- Significance - Are the findings meaningful?

- Implementation - How can this research be applied in practice?

Key words: Evidence informed  Research based  Best practice  Research evidence  Informing practice

Beyond the Core: Advancing Student Success Through the Arts Education Commission of the States

Workman, E.2017

This article briefly summarises a range of North American research that demonstrates how integrating the arts into other core subjects — including dance, music, drama/theatre, media arts and visual arts — can foster children’s deeper learning skills. Critical thinking skills, collaboration, creativity and perseverance are important predictors of long term success.

Key words: Arts-based instruction  Critical thinking  Deeper learning,

Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy - Years K-3

A research team led by Professor Nell Duke at Michigan University USA has informed the development of a set of resources about what is essential for effective literacy classroom practice every day in every classroom.
Key words: Literacy  Research  Reading  Writing  Read aloud  Family engagement  Motivation  Vocabulary  Phonological awareness  Letter sound relationships  Assessment

Arts and Arts Education in Crisis: the need for reimagined Arts and Education policy and practice

AARE blog, Arts Education in Australia, Robyn Ewing May 2022
The Arts are imperative for making meaning in today’s world. They are core to our health, learning and wellbeing. While research has demonstrated that the transformative and educative benefits of the Arts in and through education is unequivocal, Australian education policymakers have taken a very limited view of Arts education for more than thirty years. Learners continue to be judged on performance in technical and reductive tests in literacy and numeracy. Arts companies, artists and arts educators remain severely underfunded and under-resourced. Despite policy rhetoric there is a lack of focus on the Arts as central to imagination and creativity in learning. This article asserts that arts education is in crisis and that State and Federal governments need to reimagine Arts Education policy as a matter of urgency.   

Keywords:  The Arts  Arts education  crisis in arts and arts education

Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy - Years K-3 - Remote Learning

A research team led by Professor Nell Duke at Michigan University USA has informed the development of a set of resources about what is essential for effective literacy classroom practice every day in every classroom, see Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy - Years K-3.
This resource, created by Christine Topfer, has suggestions for how to implement the Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy when working in a remote learning context. This resource will support both teachers and leaders.
Key words: Remote learning  Literacy  Research

More Than Words Can Say 

2019 edition Edited by Julie Dyson, National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE)

A view of literacy through the arts. 

Key words: The Arts  Literacy  Multimedia

The language of climate change science

Julie Hayes and Bronwyn Parkin - PETAA

While Sustainability has been identified as a priority in the Australian Curriculum, teachers are left to work out for themselves how to use the science curriculum to support student understanding of climate change and the relationship to human activity. This PETAA project developed a teaching and learning progression with an aim to support teachers and students in gradually making the links between science and climate change at an appropriate level of understanding for each year level and with support for teachers to teach the language required to make sense of the concepts at each stage.

Key words: Language  Literacy  Australian Curriculum  Science  Learning progressions

Touchstones: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10

Making a Difference in Learning Through Arts and Pedagogy

Ewing, R. 2018 Australian Council for Educational Research Conference

This brief article highlights the role drama can play in enhancing learners’ social and emotional well-being as well as English and literacy outcomes. Making art through drama and literature enables students to move into transformative spaces in which they can play with possibilities that take them beyond their own perspectives to encourage openness and mindfulness towards the others who share their worlds. Creative arts-rich pedagogies enable students to develop communicative, collaborative and critical literacies (NEA, 2013) that go beyond surface and literal interpretations of literature.

Key words: Arts-rich pedagogy  School drama  Literacy