Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Teaching decisions need to be based on quality evidence and ongoing inquiry

"Since any teaching strategy works differently in different contexts for different students, effective pedagogy requires that teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching on their students” 

Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 35

None of the teacher actions described in the other guidelines can be effective without teacher inquiry.

Inquiry is vital as it help teachers to:

  • identify students’ most pressing literacy needs
  • match the most-likely-to-be-effective teaching approaches to the most important student needs
  • evaluate whether the teaching approaches were effective
  • plan next teaching steps.

Knowledge of students

It is important that teachers have knowledge of their learners, including knowledge of students’:

  • content and literacy learning needs
  • cultural identity
  • linguistic background, for example, languages spoken at home, how long in NZ
  • beliefs, interests, attitudes.

Some key questions that might focus teachers’ inquiry

About students’ activation of prior knowledge

  • What student knowledge can I build on in my teaching of this topic or text?
  • What gaps and misunderstandings have to be addressed?
  • Do my students understand why I (as a teacher) routinely provide them with prior knowledge activities before they read or write challenging texts?
  • Do my students routinely activate their own prior knowledge of content and texts before they read or write, for example, on the basis of what they can predict from surveying organisational features before reading?
  • Do my students have strategies for identifying when the prior knowledge they activated is not relevant, or unhelpful?

About students’ knowledge of organisational features of text

  • What are the key organisational features of this type of text?
  • How familiar are my students with the organisational features of this type of text?
  • Are they able to use their knowledge of these features to enhance their reading, e.g. by surveying features before reading to gain an overview of the text?
  • Are they able to use their knowledge of these features to enhance their writing, e.g. by knowing common ways of structuring writing for a particular purpose?
  • How much teacher support do they need to identify organisational features of texts by reading, and then use these features to structure their own writing?

About students’ knowledge of vocabulary

  • What important new vocabulary (in this topic or text) will my students need support with to understand and use?
  • What strategies do my students have for solving unfamiliar vocabulary when they encounter it?
  • Are my students able to use this vocabulary effectively in their own speaking and writing (as well as understand it when reading and listening)
  • What strategies do my students employ when they encounter unfamiliar vocabulary?

One way for teachers to conduct some informal inquiry into students’ vocabulary is to give students a word-list (For example, as part of a ‘vocabulary jumble’ activity) and have them complete this ‘Traffic Light’ activity:

  • In green indicate words you know how to use
  • In orange indicate words you’ve seen before but are not 100% sure about
  • In red indicate words that are unfamiliar

Teachers can then easily see what items students are most and least confident with.

Published on: 08 Jan 2018