Teaching approaches

Teachers and teacher educators have found it easier to build a different sort of relationship with learners by using strategies which promote active engagement such as:

  • flexible use of whole-class, group and pair work where students discuss a shared appropriate task;
  • frequent and relevant use of learning materials beyond the textbook;
  • open and closed questioning, expanding responses, encouraging student questioning;
  • demonstration and explanation, drawing on their knowledge of how to teach different topics;
  • use of local languages, code switching (moving between two languages) and translanguaging (drawing on multiple languages);
  • planning and varying lesson sequences.
(Westbrook et al., 2013)

Using ICT can also help build more democratic relationships, by creating more opportunities for talking about learning, and for learners to ask questions.

It has been reported by teachers and teacher educators that employing these strategies over time leads to a transformation in relationships with their students. By changing their teaching methods to focus on active learning they noticed the ‘visible response in their students that indicated that learning was taking place’ (Westbrook et al., 2013).

Activity 2.4: Analysing teaching

Timing: (Allow approximately 30 minutes)

Stories or case studies can help to make the concepts of LCE, active teaching and learning and assessment more tangible and real for teacher learners. In this activity you will read an example of a case study from the TESSA materials and consider what can be learned from it.

Read the following case study from a Literacy OER: Literacy, Module 3, Section 3, Case Study 3:

Mrs Ndaba’s Grade 6 class had brought stories from home and illustrated them. On each page, they had written a sentence and drawn a picture to match it. The pages had been tied together to make books.

Her colleague, Ms Mdlalose, who taught the Grade 3s, had seen the illustrated stories, and asked to borrow them for a reading activity with her pupils. Mrs Ndaba came and watched.

Ms Mdlalose divided her class into five groups. She gave each group a story, but she untied the pages and put them in the middle of the table. She then gave each pupil in the group one page of the story, making sure that she mixed the order of the pages. Each pupil had to read the sentence on their page to the group. Through discussion, the group decided which sentence came first in the story, put all the sentences in order and put the pages back into the file in the correct order.

Ms Mdlalose asked one pupil from each group to read their group’s story to the class and they commented about the order. As a class, they selected their favourite story and a five-minute drama was organised to perform this story.

This case study highlights some of the different strategies that teachers can use to promote active teaching and learning. In your notebook:

  • Identify three different strategies that Ms Mdlalose used to promote active teaching and learning.
  • List the skills that Ms Mdlalose needs to organise this lesson.

This case study also highlights where the teacher can give formative feedback to her students.

  • What opportunities are there for Ms Mdlalose to find out more about her students’ learning?
  • What sort of feedback could she provide?

Case studies are useful examples to share with student teachers.

  • How could you use this activity with your student teachers?
  • How might a laptop and a projector help you?

This lesson promotes thinking skills through a sequencing exercise. This is a useful technique for a teacher to test understanding, for students to have a meaningful discussion and for students to practise logical thinking.

Write down another example in your notebook from a different subject that could be used as a sequencing exercise. If you can, share your ideas with a colleague.

Reflecting on learner-centred education

TESSA Key Resources