Principle 3

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Students' needs, backgrounds, perspectives and interests are reflected in the learning program

A range of strategies is used to monitor and respond to students' different learning needs, social needs, and cultural perspectives.

Students' lives and interests are reflected in the learning sequences. A variety of teaching strategies are used to accommodate the range of abilities and interests, and to encourage diversity and autonomy.

Components unpacked

3.1 - Teaching strategies are flexible and responsive to the values, needs and interests of individual students

This component acknowledges that the classroom should be an interesting place and suited to a wide range of dispositions. Learning may involve a negotiation between prior views and knowledge and public knowledge found in the curriculum.

A range of student competencies and potential for future learning may be untapped in classrooms. This component emphasises the need to provide opportunities for these to be displayed.

This component is demonstrated by teachers:

  • regularly using popular media such as magazines and television, or popular fiction to introduce or challenge ideas
  • using students' personal interests (sports, hobbies) and social/ethical concerns as the context of topics, or to link with social relevance of the learning and issues
  • using classroom strategies that acknowledge gender, personal and religious differences
  • encouraging students to respect the rights of others to hold differing views
  • valuing and building on the perspectives and experiences students bring to the classroom
  • creating an environment of encouragement for students to contribute personal stories to class discussion
  • providing a stimulating classroom environment that generates active interest in topics.

The component is NOT demonstrated when:

  • the focus of a unit is purely on formal knowledge, with few connections made to daily life applications
  • applicability of ideas are discussed, but they do not refer to the sort of situation students would normally be concerned about in their lives
  • the focus of the unit is based on a single view of the topic
  • knowledge is presented in a sequence that represents the structured discipline view of the material, rather than the connections that might be made with student interests and prior knowledge.

Examples to illustrate the component.

  • A physics unit focuses on sport, and investigations include the design of sneakers, the science underlying a tennis swing and experiments on soccer balls and their flight.
  • A history unit on medieval Europe includes substantial discussion of the way young people would have experienced life at that time.
  • A unit on festivals and celebrations embraces the diversity of cultural backgrounds within the classroom by encouraging students to share experiences of particular events unique to their own culture and events that are celebrated in a variety of ways by different cultures.
  • An astronomy unit is designed around issues students raise from a viewing of selected sci-fi video excerpts.
  • A unit on contemporary social issues requires students to analyse the lyrics of popular music.
  • Students teach a dance or game from their family's culture to the rest of the class.
  • Students arrange a traditional indigenous games afternoon at a local sports carnival.
3.2 - The teacher utilises a range of teaching strategies that support different ways of thinking and learning

This component refers to different ways students might approach learning, their different abilities and strengths, or their different perspectives on themselves as learners. It also refers to the variety of ways ideas are represented and the need to approach and demonstrate learning using different media and representational modes. The component implies the use of diverse approaches to allow students to experience diverse ways of learning and knowing, and targeted support for individuals, based on teacher monitoring.

This component is demonstrated by teachers:

  • varying the structure and delivery mode across a range of teaching sessions
  • providing for a range of learning styles or modalities within teaching sessions and from one teaching session to another in terms of both teacher input and student learning experiences
  • helping students to understand their own specific learning needs and providing choice to cater for the range of those needs
  • setting a variety of types of tasks during each unit and using a range of resources eg. print, visual, aural, experiential.
  • providing variations in tasks to allow student choice on mode of presentation or type of approach (e.g. using Bloom's taxonomy, Gardner's multiple intelligences and other higher order thinking tools to ensure variety)
  • ensuring each task has an open ended aspect that allows students to work at different levels and paces
  • arranging for time in each teaching session to give individual support to students in need of particular attention
  • providing opportunities to use a range of multimodal communications as they are used in the community.

The component is NOT demonstrated when:

  • the unit is structured with the 'average' student in mind
  • all students cover the same material with few opportunities for varied work
  • there is little variation in the teaching strategies used in any unit
  • there is little variation in the resources used eg. reliance on written texts
  • each teaching session has a similar structure
  • there is the same balance between student and teacher voice in each teaching session
  • all teaching sessions are based on activities with instructions and involve students negotiating what they do in the same way.

Examples to illustrate the component.

  • A teacher surveys students to determine their learning preferences and styles. Students are identified as predominantly visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners. A variety of tasks is then developed using Gardner's Multiple Intelligences as a guide. Negotiated tasks further increase student choice.
  • The teacher employs a flexible whole class - small groups - whole class strategy for teaching. This allows for explicit teaching of like-need groups and/or one-on-one teaching.
  • Reading groups are strategically formed to cater for the different stages of reading competence.
  • The teacher establishes a peer support network so that learning needs can be strategically supported. Cross-age tutors offer another means of support.
  • The teacher employs a mix of group based and whole class discussion and activity.
  • The teacher moves between open discussion in which students' ideas are freely explored and more focused dialogue which brings disparate views together.
  • The structure of planned teaching sessions is varied to allow for different mixes of student activity and input.
3.3 - The teacher builds on students' prior experiences, knowledge and skills

Contemporary learning theories emphasise the importance of prior knowledge and beliefs in framing learning. This component emphasises the need to explore and monitor, and build on students' prior learning. This exploration is important for students also, to support their own understandings of their learning.

This component is demonstrated by teachers:

  • actively seeking to establish students knowledge, beliefs and skills as part of planning
  • utilising students' particular strengths and experience in supporting learning
  • building on students' prior learning, that may have taken place outside the school bounds
  • explicitly linking new ideas with the language and perspectives students' bring to the classroom.

The component is NOT demonstrated when:

  • planning assumes students' prior experience and knowledge is immaterial, and probing of prior knowledge is not explicitly planned
  • student opinion is not canvassed
  • no attention is paid to bridging between everyday and expert language.

Examples to illustrate the component:

  • a design task is preceded by a smaller task to explore the level of students' skills. Special attention is then paid during the design phase to accommodating the variety of levels of skill.
  • a mathematics lesson on triangles begins with an exploration of what students understand to be a 'triangle', including physical objects of a variety of types. The discussion is guided towards a class consensus on the essential characteristics of a triangle as an abstraction from these concrete examples, with the teacher monitoring the variety of student views as the discussion progresses.
  • prior to a year 8 unit on force and motion, students' beliefs and understandings are explored using a variety of probes including 'concept cartoons', predict-observe-explain sequences involving practical events, and response to scenarios. This raises a number of questions which are then explored further as the basis for the learning sequence.
3.4 - The teacher capitalises on students' experience of a technology rich world

Students come to classrooms with a variety of experiences of and expertise in contemporary technologies. This component encourages the exploration with students of their interest and expertise and the meaning they assign to technological communication, design and representation. It is about enlisting students' capabilities and interests associated with contemporary technologies.

This component is demonstrated by teachers:

  • incorporating contemporary technologies into learning sequences in ways that are meaningful for students
  • planning to acknowledge a diversity of student technological expertise and to take advantage of particular student expertise to support learning
  • talking about the purpose of texts, how they work and how meaning is organised, drawing examples from a variety of contemporary media and texts (websites, newspapers, TV commercials, films, magazines, lyrics, journals, video clips, online games and chat).

The component is NOT demonstrated when:

  • teachers do not incorporate contemporary technologies in ways that take advantage of students' interests and experience
  • teachers do not acknowledge students' capacity to engage with technologies at a high level
  • teachers refer to and teach only traditional print literacies.

Examples to illustrate the component.

  • The exploration of ideas involves student collaboration on contemporary technology use including internet searching, multimedia presentation of findings, email communication and chat rooms etc.
  • Students examine the language of SMS messaging and debate its impact on the future spelling of words.
  • Students explore the way in which language and images are manipulated to convey positive or negative messages in order to produce their own advertisement.
  • Students design and create their own video clip with a particular audience in mind and conduct a school survey to evaluate and analyse responses to the clip.
  • Students discuss the social purpose and identity issues related to chat room behaviour.
  • Students design a strategy for the communication of school events to staff, students, parents and the broader community.

Theory snapshot

Schooling should be socially just

The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twentieth First Century (1999) states that schooling should be socially just. Student outcomes should be free from the effects of negative forms of discrimination based on sex, language, culture, ethnicity, religion, disability and of differences arising from student socio-economic background or geographic location.

Principle 3 affirms:

  • the importance of student identity
  • the right of every student to participate in a socially just learning environment
  • our legal responsibilities under Australian Law

Principle 3 leads us to question our assumptions about pedagogy, curriculum and assessment. This recognises that we have much to learn about improving our practice and how we enact this in a learning community. Stereotyping fails to acknowledge the complexity of identity. Education theory has moved beyond the 'one size fits all' approach. Learning programs built upon labelling and deficit models are discriminatory and an impediment to learning and teaching.

When confronted with issues of diversity, more often than not, teachers defer to experts, specific programs and resources. These issues are complex. Working against deficit categorisation and developing transformed curriculum structures that are enabling of learning for all, is a key part of changing responsibilities, professional knowledge and practice in the twentieth first century.

For more information see:

Learning styles

Bennett and Rolheiser (2001) emphasise the need for students to recognize the importance of working outside their strengths. They advocate taking time to discuss with students their learning style and that of their classmates as a means to develop empathy and respect for self and others. The Learning Styles literature is clearly illustrated in the work of Bernice McCarthy (1995) and Rita Dunn (1993). In addition to helping inform the teacher and student about the differences in how individuals go about learning or solving problems; learning styles theory implies that how much individuals learn is primarily the consequence of whether the educational experience is geared toward their particular style of learning. Individuals perceive and process information in very different ways.

For more information see:

Multiple intelligences

Well known, but not without recent criticism is the work of Howard Gardner of Harvard University and his theory of Multiple Intelligences. Rather than seeing students as having preferred learning styles, Gardner argues that each of us, each student, has a variety of intelligences, some of which he and others are still discerning. These include verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, body-kinaesthetic, musical-rhythmical, interpersonal, intrapersonal; and naturalistic. As learners, we need to develop all these intelligences in order to more fully engage in profound learning. His work differs from learning styles theories which emphasise preferences in ways of learning. He contends that traditional schooling heavily favors the verbal-linguistic and logicalmathematical intelligences and suggests a more balanced curriculum that incorporates the arts, self-awareness, communication, and physical education. Gardner advocates instructional strategies that appeal to all the intelligences, including role playing, musical performance, cooperative learning, reflection, visualization, story telling, and so on. His theory calls for assessment methods that take into account the diversity of intelligences, as well as selfassessment tools that help students understand their intelligences.

For more information see:

Guiding questions

3.1 - Teaching strategies are flexible and responsive to the values, needs and interests of individual students

This component acknowledges that the classroom should be an interesting place and suited to a wide range of dispositions. Learning may involve a negotiation between prior views and knowledge and public knowledge found in the curriculum.

A range of student competencies and potential for future learning may be untapped in classrooms. This component emphasises the need to provide opportunities for these to be displayed.

Professional learning team facilitator

Getting started

  • What do we do to demonstrate responsiveness to the values, needs and interests of individual students?

Moving forward

  • How do we know we are reaching all students, not only their needs, but their values and interests? If so how, if not why not?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will we use?
  • How does our school collect information about the students? How can we use this information in our planning to connect the students with their learning?

Individual Teacher

Getting Started

  • What do I do to demonstrate responsiveness to the values, needs and interests of individual students?

Moving Forward

  • How do I know I am reaching all students, not only their needs, but their values and interests? If so how, if not why not?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will I use?
  • How does my school collect information about the students? How can I use this information in my planning to connect the students with their learning?
3.2 - The teacher utilises a range of teaching strategies that support different ways of thinking and learning

This component refers to different ways students might approach learning, their different abilities and strengths, or their different perspectives on themselves as learners. It also refers to the variety of ways ideas are represented and the need to approach and demonstrate learning using different media and representational modes. The component implies the use of diverse approaches to allow students to experience diverse ways of learning and knowing, and targeted support for individuals, based on teacher monitoring.

Professional learning team facilitator

Getting started

  • How can we plan to reach all students in our classes?

Moving forward

  • What learning approaches do we see in each student's participation? What forms of learning (e.g. linguistic, print, oral, visual, media, and gender representations) do these take?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will we use?
  • How will the learning experiences cater for the different ways that students may approach learning?

Individual teacher

Getting started

  • How can I plan to reach all students in my classes?

Moving forward

  • What learning approaches do I see in each student's participation? What forms of learning (e.g. linguistic, print, oral, visual, media, and gender representations) do these take?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will I use?
  • How will the learning experiences cater for the different ways that students may approach learning?
3.3 - The teacher builds on students' prior experiences, knowledge and skills

Contemporary learning theories emphasise the importance of prior knowledge and beliefs in framing learning. This component emphasises the need to explore and monitor, and build on students' prior learning. This exploration is important for students also, to support their own understandings of their learning.

Professional learning team facilitator

Getting started

  • What understandings do we have of students' prior learning experiences as an individual and as part of a class and year group?

Moving Forward

  • How are student voices heard in the school community?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will we use?
  • How will student's knowledge that has been developed beyond the school be linked to learning at school?

Individual Teacher

Getting Started

  • What understandings do I have of students' prior learning experiences as an individual and as part of a class and year group?

Moving Forward

  • In my classroom, how are student voices heard?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will I use?
  • How will student's knowledge that has been developed beyond the school be linked to learning at school?
3.4 - The teacher capitalises on students' experience of a technology rich world

Students come to classrooms with a variety of experiences of and expertise in contemporary technologies. This component encourages the exploration with students of their interest and expertise and the meaning they assign to technological communication, design and representation. It is about enlisting students' capabilities and interests associated with contemporary technologies.

Professional learning team facilitator

Getting Started

  • What experiences of a 'technology rich world' did our students connect with between 7 am and arrival at school today?

Moving Forward

  • How are these experiences on the one hand woven into the curriculum and secondly critically reviewed by the students?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will we use?
  • How will the variety of student experience and expertise in contemporary technology be incorporated and further developed through the learning experiences?

Individual teacher

Getting Started

  • What experiences of a 'technology rich world' did my students connect with between 7 am and arrival at school today?

Moving Forward

  • In my classroom, how are these experiences on the one hand woven into the curriculum and secondly critically reviewed by the students?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will I use?
  • How will the variety of student experience and expertise in contemporary technology be incorporated and further developed through the learning experiences?

You could try this

What whole school strategies impact on teacher actions?

Changing teaching practice and school curriculum organisation is core to making more schools inclusive.

  • Sustainable change requires a high level of internal planning and some external support
  • Change requires time, a three year cycle is realistic for the significant policy, practice and cultural shifts required to take hold
  • External supports are essential to supporting the learning of others, however local experts are often in your school
  • Evidence of student voice is crucial to student engagement
  • Learning support staff have knowledge of specific groups of students, however be wary of taking this information as a 'truth', as students needs can vary and change rapidly as does knowledge
  • Context is highly significant in students' performances, observe students over a number of settings, including a range of disciplines and teachers
  • Students and community are key resources - the planning and organisation, of these processes is curriculum in action
Learning and teaching tactics and skills

Tactics and teacher skill are directed to ensuring the classroom is inclusive, physically and emotionally. Positive identity, opportunities for friendship building, goal setting and personal competence are emphasised. Students recognise that:

  • my classroom is a safe place for me
  • our classroom is a fair place
  • I know my culture and first language is recognised and understood as being part of how I learn
  • time is allowed to celebrate learning as a group and as an individual
  • teachers will ensure discriminatory practices are acted upon

Tactics can include:

  • active learning, negotiated learning, contracts, multiage classes, personalised learning plans
  • teaching for understanding and depth, cooperative learning, peer tutoring and mentoring, multiple intelligences, discussion and debates, real life problem solving, inquiry learning, open ended tasks, and questions
  • authentic assessment, performance based learning, opportunities for the development of creative solutions and processes
  • integration of technologies, such as digital recorders, computers, video, film, animation, video games
  • texts and picture books K-12 with a range of gender constructions
  • a wide range of essential materials, concrete resources for manipulation, calculation, dictionaries and calculators of all shapes and sizes
  • visuals, graphic organisers, diagrams, drawing, illustrations as stimulus materials
  • thoughtful classroom layout, spaces that are accessible for all, spaces that allow for student 'shutdown', changing spaces and those that fire the imagination!
  • a climate of trust and respect, a team culture is used, decision making is shared
  • students are leaders of management teams, maximising participation
  • team teaching
  • making use of the research of other systems such as Productive Pedagogies™- Recognition of difference has direct relevance to Principle 3.

Download woksheet: Strategies and Tactics (Word - 160Kb)

Components of an effective lesson design
  • Opening
  • Student voice
  • A wide range of materials & resources
  • Grouping
  • Monitoring & assessing student progress
  • Evaluation & reflection

Download worksheet: Components of an effective lesson design - A checklist (Word - 157Kb)

What grouping?
  • Whole class
  • Small groups, structured or unstructured?
  • How are groups formed, e.g what size, are they based on friendship, mixed ability, specialist support for explicit teaching?
  • What collaborative skills will be emphasised? e.g. turn taking, clarifying ideas, disagreeing in an agreeable way, sharing, positive feedback, helping others, negotiating

Download worksheet: Groupings (Word - 160Kb)

Action planning with strategies in mind

The teaching team through their ongoing research and planning ensures they are familiar with the recent research and literature on:

  • current gender debates, e.g. girls and boys issues
  • inclusive vs deficit practices
  • Indigenous perspectives
  • what groups of students are at risk?
  • critical theory and postmodern theory
  • multiple intelligence theory
  • the role of emotional intelligence
  • technology and changing knowledges
Reflection
  • How do I respond to diversity?
  • In making schools inclusive what are the dilemmas of school practices?
  • How do staff act when discrimination occurs?

Download worksheet: Reflection (Word - 162Kb)

Other support

Making more schools inclusive is a process of school reform. Leadership teams provide strategic support to ensure time is allocated for teachers to benefit from peer support and collaboration. All staff are required to participate in professional development that challenges discriminatory practices and oppressive actions.

Vignettes

Classroom accounts of real-life practice that demonstrate this principle and its components being played out in early, middle, and later years classrooms across a range of learning domains:

Reflection

The worksheets pose a series of questions to support reflection on the outcomes of using a range of strategies.