Teaching requires careful planning based on the needs of stu-
dents, but it is inuenced by many other components as well.
At a whole-school level, curriculum planning determines the
focus taken in particular subjects; consideration is also given to
the number of hours allocated to teaching specic content. This
is then translated into units of work, with each unit broken down
further into lessons and activities, within which there are specic teaching and
learning strategies that will be used to develop students’ knowledge and under-
standing of particular concepts, rules, facts or generalisations.
The planning for successful teaching and learning encompasses four major
• content
• environment
• products
• processes.
Content is what is to be taught, determined by the mandates of Departments of
Education, the school’s requirements and the needs of students. The content
used to structure a lesson may be selected by teachers, as it forms part of the
curriculum within the syllabus documents of a particular education authority.
Teachers often have choices about the areas they want to develop, and can
select from a range of content. There are also mandatory areas of investigation
for students at particular year levels that must be covered. Content that closely
relates to a particular school may also be selected for learning and teaching
activities, so that a unit of work can be developed to facilitate students’ under-
standing of that area. There may be a closer focus on some content because
it relates to the students’ interests, and therefore will keep them motivated
Education is the ability to listen
to almost anything without
losing your temper or your
– Robert Frost (1960)
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2 Teaching and Learning Strategies
The environment is where teaching and learning takes place, but it is important to
note that it includes both the physical and psychological environments. The physical
environment is the one we can see – the desks, chairs, wall displays and the light in
the room. The physical space can easily be modi ed to make it more appealing and
suitable for the different ages and stages of the students. The psychological environment
is sometimes less evident. It relates to the ways in which the students interact in the
classroom, their level of security, and the personal feelings they have in relation to their
peers and being a member of the classroom. The strategy of grouping is part of the
learning environment, and groups are set up by the teacher and students in the class.
Products are a demonstration by the students of the content that has been
learned over a period of time and the learning strategies that were used. Products
require a range of skills, and are classi ed as written, visual, oral, kinaesthetic or a
combination of one or more types (see Figure 0.1 ). When planning, a teacher may
determine the  nal product or, in consultation with the students, they may select
how they would like to demonstrate the understanding that has been gained.
Processes develop the ways in which the teaching and learning occur. These
teaching and learning strategies bring together the three other components of the
lesson (content, environment and products) to ensure that understanding takes
place (see Figure 0.2 ).
Creative productivity
Public speaking
Poetry reading
Radio play
Figure 0.1 Types of products
• advise
• coach
• demonstrate
• develop
• explain
• educate
• instruct
• lecture
• prepare
• show
• train
• tutor
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Introduction 3
As lessons are developed to meet the needs of the students by determining
the most suitable content, processes, products and learning environment, a com-
prehensive knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning strategies
are essential to ensure all lessons are effective and lead to successful outcomes.
Teaching and learning strategies can be used individually or in combination in
every lesson or activity that has been planned. Once a decision has been made
about the content and objectives of a lesson, the most appropriate strategies
should be selected.
The strategies discussed in this book relate to the processes that both the
teacher and students will use to cover particular content, and to assist in the cre-
ation of products that will help students demonstrate their understanding through
the development of a suitable learning environment. For successful teaching and
learning to occur, it is imperative that both the students and the teacher are famil-
iar with each of the strategies used. In this book, details are given about each strat-
egy on three levels, as illustrated in Figure 0.3.
Content Environment Products
Oral Visual Written
Figure 0.2 The links between content, products, environment and processes
teacher uses the
strategy within a
teaching activity
teacher engages
students in how
to use the
teacher asks the
students to use
the strategy
Figure 0.3 The links between with, about and for levels in
using teaching and learning strategies
Teaching with, about and for strategies
The chapters in this book are presented in a way that will enable you to work
through the activities and learn about each strategy by engaging in it, then con-
sidering how you could use the strategy in your teaching and learning. You are
encouraged to add your own ideas as you use each strategy, and to record the
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4 Teaching and Learning Strategies
ways students work with the various strategies. This information forms the about
components of teaching and learning strategy planning, but it also highlights the
with and for aspects. The strategies are not presented in a hierarchical manner;
however, the strategy of observation covered in Chapter 1 is the foundation upon
which all the other strategies must be built. It is also important to note that the
strategies should not be implemented one at a time, but rather woven into the
overall planning of the curriculum. We will now examine each of these three com-
ponents (illustrated in Figure 0.3 ) in more detail.
• With. Each day, in your teaching, you are using different strategies to present
information to the students, to make your lessons interesting and to moti-
vate them to learn. You might use storytelling, ask questions, share ideas and
demonstrate. When using one of these strategies, you don’t stop to explain
how you will use it – you just go ahead and do it. For this to work, it is necessary
to have an in-depth knowledge of the procedure that needs to be followed so
that you can provide an excellent demonstration or explanation. So the  rst
step in your learning is to know all about every possible teaching and learning
strategy so that you can effectively implement the most appropriate strategy
in any given learning situation.
• About. This level is concerned with knowing about the actual teaching
and learning strategy. It involves understanding the components of the
strategy, what the important aspects are and, in some cases, who uses
the strategy. Once you have a comprehensive knowledge of the strategy,
you can use it in your teaching and engage students by showing them
how to use it in their learning. This involves identifying speci c attributes
of the strategy and ways to develop them. The students therefore need
to be taught the stages of each strategy in order to effectively utilise it,
and should develop a similar understanding of the strategy to that of the
teacher. The about level is the most important, and it should come  rst in
a teacher’s understanding of teaching and learning strategies. It is vital to
know as much as possible about the strategy before using it in teaching,
to enable you to subsequently set up an effective learning situation for
• For. When a particular strategy is selected, the teacher then plans lessons
that will ensure the students use the strategy in learning within a range of
curriculum areas and types of activities. In the  rst instance, the strategy
would be used with content that was familiar to the students, so they would
be scaffolded in their learning before progressing to new and novel content.
A central challenge for the education system is to  nd ways of embedding
learning in a range of meaningful contexts, where students can use their
knowledge and skills creatively to make an impact on the world around them.
(Seltzer & Bentley 1999 , p.viii)
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Introduction 5
Many people are involved in the process of planning teaching and learning, and it
is carried out over different periods of time and for different purposes. As a result,
a variety of learning experiences arise:
• non-educational : experiences that are simply undergone and have no signi -
cant effect on the individual in one way or another
• mis-educational : experiences that thwart or hamper the ability to have further
• educational : experiences that contribute to the individual’s growth – an extension
of human intelligence (Eisner 1994 , p.37). We must aim to make the experiences
educational at all times to encourage development of students’ intelligence.
Basics underpinning good teaching
All teaching has three areas that need to be considered:
• the presentation of the teaching
• the resources used, and
• how these are related to the knowledge of the content and processes (discussed
in this book).
These components are illustrated in Figure 0.4 .
The presentation relates to the sort of person
you are in the classroom – your teaching person-
ality. This encompasses your style, your voice, eye
contact and body language – all of which contrib-
ute to how effective you are as a teacher. From
your own experience in learning, you will recall
some of your teachers easily for their particu-
lar attributes. Perhaps they were stern and kept
a strict classroom, or they had a good sense of
humour. These attributes contributed to the type
of teacher they were and how well they taught
so you could learn. Be aware of your capabilities
• observation
• narration
• discussion
• explanation
• questioning
• demonstration
• application
• experimenting
• discovery
• gaining feedback
• graphic organisers
• grouping
• checklists
• rubrics
Resources Presentation
Figure 0.4 The basics underpin-
ning good teaching
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Teaching and Learning Strategies
in teaching and know how you can use your ‘teacher’ personality
to ensure your students are fully engaged in the learning process.
The types of resources you choose to use are also part of your per-
sonality. What do you feel comfortable using? Are you at home with
new information technologies, or do you prefer face-to-face discus-
sion with your students? Would you work with groups using differ-
ent resources at different times, or utilise them simultaneously?
The availability of resources may also inuence what happens in your classroom.
The third component is the knowledge you have of the content, processes, prod-
ucts and learning environment that will be used in the teaching and learning. The
rmer your foundation of knowledge from which to plan and prepare for the stu-
dents, the better. Also paramount is the pre-existing knowledge of each student in
your class, so you can meet their educational needs in each discipline area. You
need to be able to challenge them individually as well as challeng-
ing the whole class. Knowledge informs the effective planning,
implementation and evaluation of teaching and learning, as illus-
trated in Figure 0.5.
References and further reading
Eisner, E. (1994). The educational imagination. New York: Macmillan.
Frost, R. (1960). Untitled article in Readers Digest, April.
Seltzer, K. & Bentley, T. (1999). The creative age: Knowledge and skills for the new
economy. London: Demos.
Figure 0.5 Knowledge informing the planning, implementation
and evaluation of teaching
You can’t teach people every-
thing they need to know. The
best you can do is position
them where they can nd what
they need to know when they
need to know it.
– Seymour Papert
Teachers are never appreci-
ated by parents until it rains all
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We are a visual community, and we rely on the use of sight to inform us in many
ways. Walk down any street and you see amazing images, both in nature and cre-
ated by humans. Some are there to help us stay safe – for example, traf c lights and
signs to tell us when it is safe to cross a road. Some are in buildings, on billboards or
in gardens. Then there are the actions of people around you and their behaviours
with each other. Being able to observe is crucial, and should be regarded as the  rst
learning strategy developed by both the teacher and their students. However, stu-
dents need to be taught how to observe and how to use this skill in their learning.
How to observe
Observation is second nature to most of us, but in a teaching and learning situation
both the teacher and students should develop a strategy of observation. The process
of undertaking effective observation needs to be taught, and requires some prelim-
inary knowledge from the observer. First, they need to know the purpose of the
observation and what attributes are to be examined – something
that requires prior knowledge. Students observing will then need
to have some way of recording the information that they acquire.
• prior knowledge
• purpose
• knowledge of attributes to be observed
• a way to record information
Observation has to be taught
not caught. (Tilstone 2012 , p.2)
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Teachers observing
Teachers use observation to gather information about the students for whom they
are planning. Initially, the information provides details such as which hand stu-
dents write with, who they socialise with and what games they like to play – this
general information is gathered through observation of students at different times
of the day. It is valuable for ensuring that the teaching and learning strategies
selected are relevant to the needs of each student.
One way to ensure you cover each aspect of your learners is to create a chart
and complete details for each student (see Table 1.1). The notes should be brief and
to the point, and need to be updated throughout the year. This information can
inform you about the strengths and needs of the students in different curriculum
areas, and how you may group them for particular activities. Observational records
may be used for parent–teacher interviews and can also be used for recording stu-
dent achievements.
To be a good observer, you need a reason to observe, an objective for the
observation and a use for the information you have gained. The particular attri-
butes that you wish to observe need to be determined in advance, so that the
relevant data can be gathered. A knowledge of the content area would also be
helpful. In the above example, knowledge of the four areas being observed would
need to be understood. What do academic, social/emotional, physical and spiri-
tual attributes mean?
Table 1.1 Recording observations in the classroom
Name Academic Social/
Physical Spiritual
Figure 1.1 Image found in nature Figure 1.2 Image made by humans
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Chapter 1 Observation 9
Mason ( 2002 ) suggests that noticing is the most important attri-
bute of the caring professions, particularly teaching. He points out
that the difference between a novice teacher and an expert is that
the mark of an expert is that they are sensitised to notice things which
novices overlook. They have  ner discernment. They make things look
easy, because they have a re ned sensitivity to professional situations
and a rich collection of responses on which to draw. ( 2002 , p.1)
Perhaps his idea of noticing is akin to observation.
Ways to develop observation skills
Here are some planned practical classroom activities that can help students to
develop observation skills:
• Kim’s game . Set up 20 different objects on a tray and cover them. Explain to the
students that they will be given a brief amount of time to observe the items
and then list what they looked at. Or create a page of images and display
them to students. Ask them to examine them for a minute and then record
what they can remember (see Activity 1.1 ).
• Optical illusions . Gather a range of optical illusions and have students study
them carefully. Ask students to explain what they can see.
• Share picture books . Create a display of picture books and share different books
with the students. Draw their attention to the skills of the artist and the way
the elements of design have been used.
• Set up a jigsaw puzzle table . Jigsaw puzzles come in various levels of dif culty,
and can relate to a topic being studied. The students need to carefully exam-
ine the pieces in order to complete the puzzle.
• Create a games centre . Set up a corner in the classroom with numerous games –
cards, pick-up sticks, marbles and so on.
• Give students a camera . Ask students to use a digital camera to record their activ-
ities and then use the images to re ect upon their learning and achievements.
• study
• detect
• discern
• discover
• distinguish
• examine
• focus
• look at
• note
• notice
• perceive
• recognise
• see
• study
• view
• watch
For an opportunity to see one
of the many really excellent
visual representations of infor-
mation about the world, watch
the short  lm of 200 countries
over 200 years in four minutes
at < http://www.gapminder.
U1R7RChOFtw >.
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Test your powers of observation.
Look at this group of images for a minute and then cover it up.
Now, at the bottom of the page, list all the images that you can remember.
List aLL the images you can remember:
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