Effective teaching and learning for young children

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					Effective teaching and learning for
                    young children
                      KEY CONCEPTS                                      Introduction
                                                  This booklet provides insight into the Effective
Relationships between values, beliefs, theory     teaching and learning for young children design
       and practice: Our beliefs about literacy   element of the South Australian Early Years
   learning influence what and how we teach       Literacy Program (EYLP).

Knowledge of children: Knowing each child         The following three key concepts highlighted
  is essential for planning effective teaching    in this booklet will assist educators to affirm
                    and learning experiences      current practice and increase their own
                                                  learning through challenge and inquiry:
           An engaging and active learning        • Relationships between values, beliefs, theory
environment: Effective learning is optimised        and practice: Our beliefs about literacy
  through a comprehensive and contextual            learning influence what and how we teach
       program that promotes engagement           • Knowledge of children: Knowing each child is
                                                    essential for planning effective teaching and
                                                    learning experiences
                                                  • An engaging and active learning environment:
                                                    Effective learning is optimised through a
                                                    comprehensive and contextual program that
                                                    promotes engagement.

                                                  Educators plan for effective and inclusive
                                                  literacy experiences by knowing and
                                                  responding to children, their families and
                                                  communities, combined with a sound
                                                  knowledge of the curriculum. Effective early
                                                  years pedagogy involves authentic contexts
                                                  where children are active and engaged
                                                  participants in literacy experiences.

                                                  This booklet provides some information and
                                                  ideas for collective and individual reflection
                                                  • effective teaching and learning
                                                  • exploring aspects of your current learning
                                                  • reviewing and renewing your practice.

                                                  An engaging and active learning environment
                                                  builds on and extends the literacy
                                                  competencies and interests of children and
is informed by the relationship between
our values, beliefs, theories and practices.
Children’s knowledge, skills, understandings          DEVELOPMENTAL LEARNING OUTCOMES
and dispositions are extended and                     (Age –5)
strengthened through both child-initiated             • trust and confidence
and adult-initiated experiences. In the early         • a positive sense of self and a confident
years, play is an important pedagogy and the            personal and group identity
educator’s role is to participate, interpret,         • a sense of being connected with others and
support and extend literacy learning                   their worlds
embedded in play.                                     • intellectual inquisitiveness
                                                      • a range of thinking skills
Through ongoing professional learning and             • effective communication in a range of
experience, educators can develop deeper                contexts                                     SACSA Framework
understandings of contemporary literacies,            • a sense of physical wellbeing
thus furthering their art of knowing what and         • a range of physical competencies             The theoretical basis of the South Australian
how to teach.                                                                                        Curriculum, Standards and Accountability
                                                      LEARNING AREAS (Age –Age 5)                   (SACSA) Framework (DETE 2001) is
                                                      • arts and creativity                          constructivism. Therefore, the work of literacy
. Also see the design element, ‘Professional          • design and technology                        learning and teaching in the early years from
  learning and leadership’.                           • communication and language                   birth to age 8 is approached holistically—that
                                                      • health and physical development              is, building relationships with children to
                                                      • understanding our world                      understand how they learn and what they
                                                      • diversity                                    know as a basis to planning for and continuing
                                                      • self and social development                  literacy growth and development.

                                                      LEARNING AREAS and associated Standards        Literacy is defined in the SACSA Framework
                                                      (Reception–Year 12)                            as the ability to understand, analyse, critically
                                                      • arts                                         respond to and produce appropriate spoken,
                                                      • design and technology                        written, visual and multimedia communication
                                                      • English                                      in different contexts.
                                                      • health and physical education
                                                      • languages                                    In the Early Years Band of the SACSA
                                                      • mathematics                                  Framework, the Developmental Learning
                                                      • science                                      Outcomes and the Essential Learnings
                                                      • society and environment                      describe literacy broadly, with the scope for
                                                                                                     educators to construct the literacy curriculum
                                                      ESSENTIAL LEARNINGS                            for individuals and groups of children. The
. More information about ‘Effective teaching          • Identity                                     Learning Areas and Standards further describe
  and learning for young children’ is available at:   • Interdependence                              the ongoing and integrated development of             • Communication                                literacy in the school setting and make explicit
                                                      • Thinking                                     the role of the constructivist educator in the
                                                      • Futures                                      early years of schooling.

                                                                                                     South Australian Early Years Literacy Program–Resource pack |   
          Relationships between                          In ‘Secrets of literacy teaching … My bag
                                                         of tricks’ (Newton 2005, p28), a classroom            Something to think about
           values, beliefs, theory                       teacher writes:                                       and discuss
                    and practice                          My approach today is eclectic—I use a multitude
                                                          of strategies and combine these with my absolute     In thinking about ef fective early
Our beliefs about literacy learning influence             conviction that we must engage our students in       years literacy practice, consider the
how and what we teach. Literacy is socially               the learning task—that learning must be fun,          place and impact of:
and culturally constructed and is constantly              relevant, exciting, motivating. We must encourage,   • respectful relationships
evolving in response to a changing world.                 support and empower our students to ensure           • high expectations for all children
This is evident when we think about the                   they achieve success.                                • social and cultural practices in
changes in literacy we have seen in our own                                                                      literacy learning
lifetimes and when contemplating the possible                                                                  • inclusive pedagogy and curriculum
futures of our children. It is crucial to go                                                                   • engaging and active learning
beyond the ‘functional user’ dimension of the                                                                    environments
Multiliteracies Map (UniSA & DECS 2005) and                                                                    • consistencies and points of
consider the challenges and opportunities of                 Something to think about                            difference between preschool and
contemporary literacies.                                     and discuss                                         year 3 (and the time in-between)
                                                                                                               • your current context
As educators, we inform, develop and extend                  What is your absolute conviction                  • your commitment to fur thering your
our work through exploring and reviewing                     about literacy learning?                            own knowledge.
the relationships between our values, beliefs,
theory and practice. These factors influence                 How is this ref lected in your
how we interact with and plan and provide for                practice ?
children and their learning.
                                                             How do you review your beliefs,
The National Inquiry into the Teaching of                    theories and practices about literacy,
Literacy (DEST 2005) found that many                         as an individual and within and
teaching approaches used in schools are not                  across settings?
informed by findings from evidence-based
research. As educators, we must have a
clear understanding of why, how, what
and when to use particular strategies. The
report recommends that educators provide                    ‘Others have a right to challenge you.
systematic, direct and explicit phonics                     You have a responsibility to explain.’
instruction so that children master the
essential alphabetic code-breaking skills but,                                           (Milne 1997, p7)
equally, that educators provide an integrated
approach to reading that supports the
development of oral language, vocabulary,
grammar, reading fluency, comprehension and
the literacies of new technologies.

 | Effective teaching and learning for young children
The Multiliteracies Map has been developed         The Multiliteracies Map
through a significant South Australian
research project (UniSA & DECS 2005) to
reflect changing and emerging literacies and              Functional user              Meaning maker
their representation in early years settings.
The Multiliteracies Map forms a conceptual              • Technical competence        • Understanding how
foundation for literacy in the EYLP. The                • ‘How-to’ knowledge            different text types
Multiliteracies Map enables us to analyse                                               and technologies
literacy practices in the functional, meaning                                           operate
making, critical, and transformative dimensions.

                                                          Critical analyser           Transformer

                                                        • Understanding all that      • Using what has
                                                          is told and studied is        been learnt in
                                                          selective                     new ways
    Something to think about
    and discuss

    Think about your current beliefs and
     practices in literacy teaching and
     learning:                                     (Adapted from DECS & UniSA 2006)
    • Where would you place them in the
       dimensions of the Multiliteracies
    • What oppor tunities do you provide
       for children to operate in all four
    • How might this ref lection inform
       your future planning and practice ?

                                                                                            South Australian Early Years Literacy Program–Resource pack |   5
          Knowledge of children                          Children live in families and
                                                         communities—they come to
Knowing each child is essential for planning             preschools and schools
effective teaching and learning experiences.
                                                         Increasingly, it is clear that young children
Effective educators consider:                            learn a great deal about literacy before
• relationships and well-being                           they start preschool and school. In family
• a range of strategies to identify what children        and community settings, children have
  know, understand and can do                            opportunities to acquire the specific language
• connections with home, community and                   practices associated with particular people,
  preschool and school literacies                        places, activities and occasions.
• respectful insights of children’s previous
  educators.                                             Sound early literacy learning builds on what
                                                         children know to extend their acquisition
The relationships we form with young children            and use of language for communication and
are crucial to literacy learning. In We can              participation. In family and community settings,
 make a difference (DECS 2005a), responsive              children learn a great deal about literacy in the
educators are described as people who are:               context of their lives.                             Something to think about
• reliable, predictable and consistent                                                                       and discuss
• physically and emotionally accessible to               The diversity of children, their families and
  children                                               their lives requires the understanding and          ‘What children learn does not follow
• observant, and listen with attention and               valuing of social and cultural differences and       as an automatic result from what
  respect to children’s signals and cues                 their inclusion in the learning programs in          is taught. Rather, it is in large par t
• sensitive in reacting promptly to children’s           our sites. No literacy program is effective if it    due to the children’s own doing as a
 temperament, mood and situation                         marginalises some children or if it ignores the      consequence of their activities and
• respectful of children’s temperament, mood             home and community experiences that they             our resources’ (Malaguzzi 1993 in
  and situation                                          bring to early years programs.                      Edwards et al 1998, p59). Using this
• comforting of children when they are                                                                       thought, consider:
  distressed.                                            Because literacy enters into children’s lives in    • How do you acknowledge and
                                                         different ways, it is not surprising that what         utilise what children can already do
                                                         constitutes development looks quite different          as competent language users?
      Something to think about                           for different children (Clay 1998).                 • How do you understand and value
      and discuss                                                                                               the ‘ here and now’—the social
                                                                                                                space where children learn to use
      How does this description f it with                                                                       language and communicate to have
      your identity as a responsive educator                                                                    their needs met?
      in your current context?                                                                               • How do you connect home,
                                                                                                                community and preschool and
     What suppor ts and challenges your                  . Also see the design element, ‘Working within         school literacies in your daily
     ability to be a responsive educator?                  community’.                                          practice ?

 | Effective teaching and learning for young children
Extending the learning of all children in a
group requires meeting the needs of each
child and responding to cues to support and
extend her or his learning.

Special intervention or support programs            ‘Evaluating the program rather than
should not be based on a different curriculum,                      testing the children.’           Scenario
different outcomes or different standards.                                                           A child begins reception unable to write
They are most effective when they are linked                                  (Milne 1997, p17)      her name, has not developed a pincer
to sound teaching and learning programs                                                              grip, is unable to cut a straight line and
incorporating a range of strategies and          Continuity for each child’s literacy learning       finds it difficult to sit still in a group.
resources.                                        requires us to:                                    However, she loves singing and knows the
                                                 • work with colleagues within and across            words and tunes of numerous television
                                                   sites to share, acknowledge and inquire into      commercials and popular songs. On
    Something to think about                       effective teaching                                Monday morning, her mother relates the
    and discuss                                  • exchange information about children’s varied      story of a weekend spent following the
                                                   literacy experiences in different contexts        child’s favourite singer to eventually get a
   Think about a child with specif ic            • learn about and understand the consistencies      photograph and autograph, which she has
    needs whom you have taught and                 and points of difference between settings         brought to school.
   who did not respond to the program            • value the prior contexts, conditions and
   you of fered in the ways you thought            support for successful engagement.
    she or he would:
   • What did you do ? Why?                      As children move through early years settings,
   • What did you know about what                they are constructing their understandings of
      motivated the child and how were           literacy. Children may be confused and unable          Something to think about
      you able to use this in reviewing          to demonstrate what they know and can do               and discuss
      and adapting the learning                  when faced with an approach that involves
      program ?                                  isolated, ‘stand alone’ activities that are not       What does this tell you about
   • If you made a referral to the               presented in context.                                 her literacy understandings and
      Student Suppor t and Disability                                                                  interests?
      Team, what information did
      you include and how was this                                                                      At this point, what aspects of her
      information collected ?                                                                           literacies do you value ?

                                                                                                        How can you connect and
                                                                                                        incorporate your insights into her
                                                                                                        literacy learning?

                                                                                                   South Australian Early Years Literacy Program–Resource pack |   
                                                                An engaging and active
                                                                 learning environment

                                                         Effective learning in the early years is
                                                         optimised through a comprehensive
                                                         and contextual program that promotes

                                                         In an active learning environment, educators
                                                         play a crucial role of encouraging (supporting
                                                         and scaffolding) learning, enabling children
                                                         to discover deeper meanings and make
                                                         connections between ideas, concepts and
     Something to think about                            processes and their representations.
     and discuss                                                                                             Something to think about
                                                         In an active learning environment:                  and discuss
     What does an ‘active learning                       • children are encouraged to play, to inquire, to
     environment’ look like in your site ?                 solve problems and to make choices                How are you motivated to learn ?
                                                         • educators extend children’s learning actively     Consider these factors:
     How does the provision of an ‘active                  and support their development                     • purpose
     learning environment’ change from                   • a learning relationship is formed where           • imposed or self-initiated and
     preschool to year 3?                                  reciprocal interactions and collaboration           negotiated goals
                                                           between children and educators lead to new        • physical environment
     What aspects are constant?                            understandings, knowledge and a deeper            • relationships with signif icant others
                                                           level of involvement by the children.             • feedback
                                                                                                             • achievement
                                                         Motivation is essential for learning. Children      • barriers to motivation.
                                                         are motivated when they are engaged in an
                                                         activity that is directed to a goal to which        What are the conditions for your
                                                         they aspire and when they receive positive          successful learning?
                                                         feedback and encouragement. For this reason,
                                                         we need to connect to children’s interests,         Consider how these conditions are
                                                         experiences, knowledge and skills.                   ref lected for the children in your
                                                                                                              current setting. Do they include:
                                                                                                             • using a range of strategies?
                                                                                                             • using a range of resources?
                                                                                                             • providing specif ic suppor t when
                                                                                                               required ?

8 | Effective teaching and learning for young children
Classroom Literacy Observation                     Orchestration                                         Respect
Schedule                                           • Awareness: The teacher has a high level            • Warmth: The welcoming, positive and inviting
                                                     of awareness of literacy activities and              classroom is focused on literacy learning.
Australian researchers undertaking a study           participation by children.                         • Rapport: Relationships with the children
of educators’ daily work in schools (Louden        • Structure: The environment is predictable            support tactful literacy interventions.
et al 2005) developed a Classroom Literacy           and orderly.                                       • Credibility: Respect for the teacher enables
Observation Schedule as a tool with which to       • Flexibility: The teacher responds to learning        him or her to overcome any challenges to
observe and describe effective early literacy        opportunities that arise in the flow of literacy     order and lesson flow.
teaching (also refer to the DEST website at          lessons.                                           • Citizenship: Equality, tolerance, inclusivity
<>). Their observable        • Pace: The teacher provides strong forward            and awareness of the needs of others are
teaching practice dimensions are the following.      momentum in literacy lessons.                        promoted.
                                                   • Transition: Minimum time is spent in               • Independence: Children take some
Participation                                       transitions or there is productive use of             responsibility for their own literacy learning.
• Attention: Almost all children are focused on     transitions.
  literacy learning.
• Engagement: Children are deeply absorbed in      Support
 the literacy lesson/task.                         • Assessment: The teacher uses fine-grained
• Stimulation: The teacher motivates interest in     knowledge of children’s literacy performance
  literacy tasks, concepts and learning.             in planning and teaching.
• Pleasure: The teacher creates an enthusiastic    • Scaffolding: The teacher extends children’s
  and energetic literacy classroom.                  literacy learning through modelling, modifying
• Consistency: Strong literacy routines are          and correcting.
  recognised and understood by the children.       • Feedback: The teacher gives timely, focused
                                                     and explicit literacy feedback to children.
Knowledge                                          • Responsiveness: The teacher shares and
• Environment: Literate physical environment is      builds on children’s literacy contributions.
  used as a teaching resource.                     • Explicitness:
• Purpose: Children’s responses indicate tacit      Word level—the teacher directs children’s
  or explicit understanding of the purpose of        attention to explicit word and sound
 the literacy task.                                  strategies.
• Substance: The lesson/task leads to               Text level—the teacher makes explicit the
  substantial literacy engagement, not               specific attributes of a text.
• Explanations: Explanations of literacy
  concepts and skills are clear and at an
  appropriate level.
• Modelling: Demonstrations of literacy tasks
  include metacognitive explanations.
• Metalanguage: Children are provided with
  language for talking about and exemplifying
  literacy concepts.

                                                                                                         South Australian Early Years Literacy Program–Resource pack |   9
Reflective framework
                                                              Something to think about
The DECS publication, We can make a                           and discuss
difference (2005a), identified children’s
involvement being linked closely to their well-               How might you use either the
being and dependent on the quality of the                     framework or the obser vation
relationship with their educators and the                     schedule as par t of an inquir y
educators’ ability to create an active learning               process in your site ?
                                                              What questions arise ?
A reflective framework for increasing
children’s involvement (DECS 2005a, p2)                      How could the framework or the
allows an educator to:                                        obser vation schedule be used by
• ensure the formation of secure and strong                   educators for peer obser vations
  relationships with children                                 and collaboration for literacy
• plan for and provide an active learning                     improvement?
• provide experiences that entice children to
  explore and discover
• ensure that tasks are challenging and yet
 within the capabilities of the children                  . Also refer to the design element,
• allow space and time for the development of               ‘Professional learning and leadership’.
 the children’s play and learning interests
• minimise disturbances and interruptions and
  constant change of activities
• show interest in children’s activities and make
  suggestions to expand their play
• sustain conversation and pose questions to
  encourage and extend communication
• use a warm and interactive communication style
• acknowledge that when children’s well-being
  is compromised they find it difficult to be
  involved or engaged in a meaningful way.

10 | Effective teaching and learning for young children
                        Bibliography                  Milne R (1997) Marketing play, Free
                                                       Kindergarten Association of Victoria,
Clay M (1998) ‘By different paths to common            Melbourne
 outcomes’ In P Grant, L Badger, L Wilkinson,         Newton H (2005) ‘Secrets of literacy teaching
 A Rogers & V Munt (200) Nothing left to              … My bag of tricks’ Practically Primary, Vol 10,
 chance, DECS, Adelaide, SA                            No 1, Feb 2005, p28
Department of Education and Children’s                University of South Australia & Department
 Services (2005a) We can make a difference:            of Education and Children’s Services (2005)
 Learning and developing in childcare, DECS,           Mapping multiliteracies. Children of the new
 Adelaide, SA                                          millennium. Report of the research project
Department of Education and Children’s                2002–2004, UniSA, Adelaide, SA
 Services (2005b) SACSA: The required
 elements, DECS, Adelaide, SA
Department of Education, Science and
Training (2005) National inquiry into the
 teaching of literacy: Teaching reading. Report and
 recommendations, Commonwealth of Australia.
 Accessed at <> on
Department of Education, Training and
 Employment (2001) South Australian
 Curriculum, Standards and Accountability
 Framework, DETE, Adelaide, SA. Accessed at
 <> on 0.02.0
Edwards C, Gandini L & Forma G (1998)
 The hundred languages of children. The Reggio
 Emilia approach—Advanced reflections, Abex
 Publishing, Westport, Connecticut
Louden W, Rohl M, Barrat Pugh C, Brown
 C, Cairney T, Elderfield J, House H, Meiers
 M, Rivalland J, Rowe K (2005) In educators’
 hands: Effective literacy teaching practices
 in the early years of schooling, Edith Cowan
 University, WA
Malaguzzi L (1993) ‘History, ideas and
 basic philosophy’ In C Edwards, L Gandini
 & G Forma (1998) The hundred languages
 of children. The Reggio Emilia approach—
 Advanced reflections, Abex Publishing,
 Westport, Connecticut p59

                                                                                                          South Australian Early Years Literacy Program–Resource pack |   11

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