The Literacy Practices Guide: A "Smart Tool" for School Principals

This article outlines the development and piloting of the Literacy Practices Guide (LPG), how it was used by sixty principals in a national pilot project, and its perceived usefulness in assisting them to lead the teaching of reading in their schools. The LPG provides a structured way of observing five dimensions of the teaching/learning environment as they relate to reading instruction and is based on the “walkthroughs” developed in the 1970s as a strategy to move managers closer to the people and processes involved in their business in order to drive improvement. A brief overview of the research evidence behind reading pedagogy and professional learning is followed by a discussion of walkthroughs and how they have been implemented in different educational settings to support effective leadership. The five dimensions of the LPG are described, and sample descriptors from different year levels are provided. The article concludes with a discussion of the various ways it was used by sixty primary school principals across Australia in a research study, and their response to it as a tool to support teacher practice and student achievement.

Improving Literacy Development in Foster Children: Best Practices for the K-6 Classroom

Foster children who have experienced abuse or neglect often struggle academically, particularly in the area of literacy development. This research study explored current teachers’ best practices for improving literacy development in foster children in the K-6 classroom. Themes emerged indicating the teachers’ perceptions of meeting the needs of foster children, especially as related to improving literacy skills and encouraging literacy development. These best practices can be implemented by K-6 teachers to assist in preventing school failure for foster children.

Dancing and Learning Natural Sciences: Aesthetics, Embodied Knowledge, and Classroom Interaction

In this article a teaching and learning program in natural sciences is presented, starting from the aesthetic expression of dance as an agent in the search for knowledge and meaning. The program was originally conceived as a joyful, effective, and threshold-lowering teaching method aimed at learners apprehensive about the subject of science curriculum, including students in teacher training. It has been further developed as a mode of visualizing learners’ previous knowledge and conceptual understanding and as the base for further investigation in the field. The program’s overall object is to establish an effectual interactive space of learning where sensorimotor activity and speech, aesthetic literacy, and scientific literacy are enhanced and interplay gainfully. Lesson observation data are presented, indicating intensive classroom interaction on a range of levels crucial to learning, as well as increased learning goals achievement. Suggestions are made for further investigation of teaching and learning modalities in the intersection of pedagogy and the arts and aesthetic and science literacies.

The More, The Better?: Examining Choice and Self-regulated Learning Strategies

Iyengar and Lepper (2000) suggested the choice overload hypothesis, that for academic tasks there is a critical point where too many choices may have a negative effect, but they did not consider any moderating factors that may influence the effects of choice (Pintrich, 2003). This experimental study addressed this issue by closely modeling Iyengar and Lepper’s study. College students were asked to complete a self-regulated learning strategies questionnaire, and they were randomly assigned to either 30 different sets of course ideas (i.e., the excessive choice condition) or six different sets of course ideas (i.e., the moderate choice condition) to choose from for a course assignment. The results showed that students who received 30 sets of course ideas reported higher intrinsic motivation (i.e., perceived competence, interest, and value) than students who received six sets of course ideas, which was the opposite pattern of Iyengar and Lepper’s study. In a second analysis, involving students’ self-regulated learning strategies as a moderating factor, there was a marginally significant interaction effect between the amount of choice and self-regulated learning strategies on task performance. Specifically, self-regulated learning strategies were not effective in assisting students to choose one among 30 sets of course ideas; they contributed to having lower levels of task performance. The study concludes with a discussion of the findings and implications for future research on the effects of choice.