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Sunday, 22 May 2016

What does a post-industrial class look like? Part 2

This post is the second part of a series that I have been working on to identify what does a post-industrial class look like? In my previous post, I looked at using video, collaborative discussion, grouping and student-centred learning.

Why a large display and one to one?
The large electronic display is used as it offers many benefits to a given lesson; these include demonstration and modelling as the teacher could showcase the application or video from the board (Moss, et al, 2007). It is easy to show the important features of particular web-based activities and have students interact with the material on their own devices. The board can accommodate different learning styles (Herrington & Harrington, 2006). Interactive boards can help tactile learners by touching and marking the board. Audio learners can have the class discussion and auditory multimedia, visual learners can see what is taking place as it develops at the board and it offers multimodal learning which can be tailored to the ability and stage of individual learners (McInerney & McInerney, 1998).

The ultimate goal is to give students the best opportunity to be engaged with each learning experience, by offering them consistency, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. This is primarily a constructivist approach to teaching (Mcleod & Reynolds, 2007) and as such, we appreciate that students build their own understanding of the world they live in.

The use of a large electronic display in my classroom is used to model and display student work I often have exemplars of high-quality work and together with the students work through the editing process.

Though a one to one program might look different from place to place, they have a few things in common: every student has a device for their own learning and no one form is perfect. In my classroom, we utilise the “bring your own” model. I believe students are well served by learning to use technology at school for learning as well as for communication and entertainment. The introduction one to one has presented a number of challenges but there are substantial benefits for the students’ learning that are being seen.

In addition to the large electronic display and one to one devices I have plenty of whiteboards, we have a large whiteboard stand up desk, individual student boards and one wallboard. These allow in an unplugged way students to demonstrate their working and understanding.

Why scaffold and model activities?
Scaffolding and modelling provides an example of the teacher’s expectations, whereby the most important steps and decisions are emphasised (Jonassen, 1998). Scaffolding the learning builds student confidence and ability to expand intellectual qualities through constant constructive feedback as part of learning processes (Beale, 2005). This occurs when the learner’s inner speech occurs on an automatic, unconscious level (Ellis, Larkin & Worthington, 1994).

Learning experience are scaffolded as a way of providing support, such as contextual support, support by asking 'leading questions', support by giving away parts of the solution and asking students to draw on their previous experience (Winnips, 1998). The activities offer the teacher the opportunity to illustrate and explain the different perspectives and arguments from this potentially precarious environmental subject, placing it in everyday situations using different approaches to the ways of learning (Bonwell & Eison, 2000).

The scaffolding process is designed to ensure that throughout a unit the students become more self-reliant and develop skills to become self-directed learners, an example of this is making the student aware of the process which led to the discovery (Coltman, Petyaeva & Anghileri, 2002).  In addition to improving learners’ cognitive abilities, scaffolding instruction in the context of classroom learning
  1. Delivers efficiency as the work is structured and focused. The distractions have been reduced allowing time on task and efficiency in completing the activity to be increased.
  2. Creates momentum through the structure provided by scaffolding. Students spend less time searching and more time on learning and discovering, resulting in quicker learning (McKenzie, 1999).
In this, the needs of individual students learning styles are catered for, increasing engagement and significance (DET NSW, 2003). By teachers knowing and utilising the student’s learning styles, they help develop coping strategies to compensate for the student’s weaknesses and capitalise on the student’s strengths. Scaffolding is an important instructional tool because it supports students’ learning. It helps students to understand that they can teach and learn from others and leads to collaboration.

Design Thinking
Design thinking is a way of approaching problem solving and challenges. It is about creating and designing new inventions, prototypes, and products by our students. Students are given real-world, relevant challenges to solve.  Each class works on a variety of issues and find solutions using the Design Thinking process. It is an element of education that is uniquely embedded into to computational thinking and technologies banner; however, has relevance to all other areas of the curriculum.

In a post-industrial class, students are required practice to actively construct knowledge, build connections, and mental schemata. Students are encouraged to develop a growth mindset and create high-quality artefacts. Learning in this type of socially constructed environment leads to students taking responsibility for their own learning and respecting their own and others’ thinking. It is an environment that creativity and divergent thinking are encouraged. Students are aware, failure is part of the learning process and that the pit of learning is something not to be scared of.

In my own situation, I have observed that silos that had previously separated classes start to be removed. With team teaching, open classrooms and collaborative planning. Students have flexible seating and are encouraged to critically think about multiple solutions to problems. The teacher’s role facilitates the learning; however, differentiated personalised learning, individualised coaching and at the shoulder teaching holds as much value as the teacher-centric up the front explicit teaching.

Part 1 can be found by following this link.


Beale, I. L. (2005). Scaffolding and integrated assessment in computer assisted learning for children with learning disabilities. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 21(2): 173-191.

Coltman, P., Petyaeva, D., & Anghileri, J. (2002). Scaffolding learning through meaningful tasks and adult interaction. Early Years, 22(1): 39-49

Ellis, E., Larkin, M., & Worthington, L. (1994). Executive summary of the research synthesis on effective teaching principles and the design of quality tools for educators. University of Alabama, AL.

Herrington, A. & Harrington, J., (2006). Authentic Learning Environments in Higher Education, Information Science: Melbourne.

Jonassen, D. H. (1998). Designing constructivist learning environments. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional theories and models (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

McInerney, D. & McInerney, V. (1998). Educational Psychology: Constructing Learning. Sydney: Prentice Hall.

McKenzie, J. (1999).  Scaffolding for Success. Beyond Technology, Questioning, Research and the Information Literate School Community.

McLeod & Reynolds (2007). Quality Teaching for Quality Learning, South Melbourne : Thomson Social Science Press.

Moss, G., Jewitt, C., Levačić, R., Armstrong, V. Cardini, A and Castle, F (2007). The Interactive Whiteboards, Pedagogy and Pupil Performance Evaluation: an Evaluation of the Schools Whiteboard Expansion (SWE) Project: London Challenge, School of Educational Foundations and Policy Studies, Institute of Education, University of London.

DET NSW (2003) Quality Teaching in NSW public schools, discussion paper. New South Wales Department of Education, Sydney.

Winnips, J. C. (1998). Scaffolding the development of skills in the design process for educational media through hyperlinked units of learning material: report of activities performed in the first year of PH. D. research (Internal report). Enschede: University of Twente, Netherlands.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

What Does A Post-industrial Class Look Like? Part 1

The premise of this post comes from my own classroom activities and research on the best practices educators use to engage and create rich and meaningful learning. They are not limited to the areas I write about but begin a conversation. I would invite you to add your own ideas by leaving a comment and participate in the discussion “What does a post-industrial class look like?”

Why use video?
The use of video in the context of a lesson has significant impacts on both content retention and student engagement with McInerney & McInerney (1998) claiming that the technology provides students with ‘greater control over their own learning’ with benefits amounting to enhanced understanding resulting in ‘self-confidence, independence and autonomy’ within learning experiences. In the realm of language education, a key component across all key learning areas (KLA), Mejia (1999) extols the use of video as ‘valuable tool that can enhance a classroom experience’ through the acquisition and development of ‘listening, speaking and writing skills’ and using multiple ‘playbacks’, activities that include independent, group and whole class situations can elicit successful outcomes through ‘planned, flexible lessons, working with the level of the class’.

A teaching team member of mine has become synonymous with flipped learning. Taking on this concept we create small tutorial videos that have targeted tasks embedded with in them that students view during class time allowing individualised mastery learning. Not all students’ need to view all videos they are pretested and focus areas are identified. This flexibility adds additional elements to the traditions modelled, guided and independent pathway; however, the learning becomes tailored to the student. In my own class I still have the campfire moments where I bring my whole class together for the explicit whole class lesson; the waterhole moments where in a small group they work with me or a video to go deeper into a concept and the cave times where students are working independent of the teacher.

‘There is no one correct way to use video’ (Stempleski, 1987), however to not use this valuable tool within the class may be to the detriment of those who occupy the room. 

Why collaborative discussion?
The mutual experiences shared through the use of technology offer realistic opportunities for student/teacher - student/student collaborative discussion to take place before, during and after its use. The importance of collaborative discussion can be seen in the unscripted and unpredictable dialogue that occurs and this collaborative discourse means the outcomes emanating from lessons are determined by all participants (Sawyer, 2003). The basic insight of constructivism is that learning is a creative improvisational process (Sawyer, 2003). Recent work that extends constructivist theory to classroom collaboration conceives of learning as ‘co-construction’. Both neo-Piagetian social constructivists and Vygotskian-inspired socio-culturalists focus on how knowledge is learned in and by groups (Verba, 1994) with studies demonstrating the importance of social interaction in groups where the processes reveal insights into how learning takes place, guiding future practice and planning for teachers as a result.

As previously described the evidence demonstrations the importance of the social collaboration in tasks. The problem for teachers though is we understand that discussions can happen in a myriad of ways and are not always enhancing to the learning. When creating a collaborative classroom the desired goal is to lead students into a deeper understanding of the content. My classroom some my say is not a quiet classroom. There is always activity and rich conversation. It becomes important for the teacher to establish the ground rules and explain what types of conversations are appropriate to the situation. Setting the exemplar or standard is essential in creating and maintaining collaborative discussions in the classroom.

The collaboration that has been created in my classroom often goes beyond my four walls. We regularly engage with classes around the world for specific learning task and speak with experts in fields that we are learning in using social media and video conferencing. This extended collaboration allows students to gain a global perspective in their understanding and develops empathy for others.

Why group?
Kurt Lewin suggests that group work within a balanced, egalitarian, safe and emotionally secure environment is dramatically more effective as a learning methodology then an authoritarian approach (Exley & Dennick, 2004). The classroom environment is, or should be, a safe and secure environment where groups can be facilitated in order to advance from a authoritarian environment to a self exploration of ideas, understandings, processes and knowledge applied to practical and educational tasks (Exley & Dennick, 2004).

Providing opportunities for students to engage collaboratively in lessons and activities is an important part of the learning process as it creates possibilities for students to engage with and develop skills outside the specific framework of the outcomes with any given lesson (Herrington & Herrington, 2006).

The intentional design of groups is specifically aimed at allowing students to engage with not only the skills of working together but also solving problems from a collaborative perspective and allowing students to observe and interact with different perceptions and different ways of addressing tasks (Herrington & Herrington, 2006). It is this methodology that will allow students to rationalize their own understanding of what needs to be achieved and then articulate that intention effectively to the group as well as evaluate and analyse it in comparison to the other members’ intentions and perceptions.

Implementing a group rotation sequence allows students to not only engage with different ideas, concepts and perceptions but it also encourages cooperation. Cooperation is achieved as the elements within the lesson necessitate collaboration to ensure success (O’Sullivan et al, 1996). Through collaborative learning and group phases students will engage at a deeper level with the lesson material as they will need to have some tasks explained to them by others, which will require the development of questioning techniques, just as they will need to explain aspects to others, requiring reconstruction skills and effective communication (O’Sullivan et al, 1996). It is this engagement with the task on multiple levels and constructing it in varying ways to ensure others within the group can relate strategies to other students and in turn become a more effective communicator, learner and group collaborator (Jones & Jones, 1998).

Why student-centred learning?
Student-centred learning is the process whereby students themselves observe, apply and engage with knowledge to experience success within an environment constructed by a teacher for the students (Glasgow, 1997). This is to say that the lesson is designed around the concept of creating an environment whereby students have access to information which they use to develop their understandings and then apply that in contextual problem based or investigation based activities. This methodology is advantageous as it allows students to “learn to learn” and expand their roles as stakeholders in their education (Glasgow, 2007).

Learning to learn, or “positive interdependent educational interaction”, is a key aspect of what a contemporary educational environment should be built upon as it allow students to move away from recited facts and recalling list based answers and develop skills in experimentation and exploration to solve problems in the classroom and in life (Johnson, et al, 1991). Lessons fostering these skills allow students to find answers by employing techniques such as questioning, analysing, assessing and evaluating rather than recalling rhetoric. This in turn will then equip our students to engage with unfamiliar tasks in the future with confidence as they have developed a learning style built upon adaption, interaction, reflection and experimentation (Fraser, 1996).

In my own classroom I utilise a range of student-centred learning to enhance my students’ understanding. Examples such as inquiry-learning; problem based learning; mastery learning; game-based learning; learning matrix’ allowing student choice and voice and maker learning where students use items such as makey makey, robotics, electronics, coding, cardboard, 3D printing and play doe to create representations of their understanding and go through a design thinking process.

From my experience I find students respond well to the student-centred approach, they are quick to respond, engage and participate in class. Such an approach establishes high expectations of students and the teachers, in regards to the quality of the learning experience (Vialle, Lysaght & Verenikina, 2000). The Constructionist approach emphasizes hand-on, activity based teaching & learning during which students develop their own frames of thought.

In my next post I will look at large displays, one to one technology, scaffolding and modeling activities.


Exley, K. & Dennick, R., 2004, Small Groups Teaching: Tutorials, Seminars and Beyond, RoutledgeFalmer: New York.

Fraser, K., (1996). Student Centred Teaching: The Development and Use of Conceptual Frameworks, H.E.R.D.S.A: Canberra.

Glasgow, N., (2007). New Curriculum for New Times: A Guide to Student-Centred, Problem-Based Learning, Corwin: Thousand Oaks.

Herrington, A. & Harrington, J., (2006). Authentic Learning Environments in Higher Education, Information Science: Melbourne.

Jones, V. & Jones L., (1998). Comprehensive Classroom Management: Creating Communities of Support and Solving Problems, Allyn and Bacon: Sydney.

McInerney, D. & McInerney, V. (1998). Educational Psychology: Constructing Learning. Sydney: Prentice Hall.

Mejia, E. (1999). Video in Language Education: Making News Broadcasts Work for You. URL:

O’Sullivan, T., Rice, J., Rogerson, S. & Saunders, C., (1996). Successful Group Work, De Montfort University: London.

Sawyer, R. K. (2003). Improvised dialogues: Emergence and creativity in conversation. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Stempleski, S. (1987). Short takes: using authentic video in the English class. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages: Westende, Belgium.

Verba, M. (1994). The beginnings of collaboration in peer interaction. Human Development, 37: 125–139.
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