Types of Searches
The purpose of this article is to provide new users with a menu of ways that this database can be used and that help scaffold the journey of becoming an experienced user. There are two aspects to the journey. The first is the obvious one of building familiarity for the 18 search categories (e.g. Teacher Concerns, Classroom Practices) and the 301 search fields that are clustered in these 18 drop-down menus. This sort of journey applies to almost any piece of software; we expected it and there is no substitute for hands-on practice here.
We did not anticipate the second aspect of the journey, though with hindsight we should have. This is the extent to which the ways of using the database reflect the ways by which involvement in PEEL causes teachers to create new ways of thinking about their teaching and hence or organising their knowledge about teaching.
PEEL began, and maintained, a focus on aspects of learning that (almost always) cross subject boundaries – linking different activities, offering and defending ideas, reflecting on the purpose of task and many others. Moreover, most PEEL groups were cross-faculty groups and, as a consequence, focus on teaching in ways that also cross subject boundaries. Teaching procedures such as Concept Mapping (A1) or Work Out What You Need to Find Out (F1) can be used in most if not all subjects. Similarly, teacher behaviours such as delaying judgement and the 12 (Strategic) Principles of Teaching for Quality Learning can be used in all subjects.
When teachers new to PEEL use PEEL in Practice for the first time, they commonly type in their Year level (if a primary teacher) or their subject area (if a secondary teacher). This is understandable – topics, subjects and Year levels are the frame that most teachers use to organize their teacher knowledge. You can use the database in this way, but it does not make best use of it. What follows, as stated earlier, is intended to provides a scaffold for teachers to move to using the database in ways not tied to subjects and topics. It lists 10 Types of ways of searching the database; the first two (Section 1) are where many new users start, the tenth (Section 3) requires the familiarity with the product that can only come with practice. The middle seven (Section 2) are intended to help people, who are still unfamiliar with the package, use it in ways that reflect the discourse in many PEEL groups.
Types of Searches
1. Conventional way of thinking about teaching
Focus on subjects or areas of content
1.1 Combine the subject(s) and year levels that you teach at:
e.g. English + Year 7-8
1.2 Enter specific areas of content using keywords:
e.g. coasts or coastlines or coastal
For many users, this sort of search is a necessary beginning: ‘What does this look like in my context?’ Answering this question can be a necessary check of validity, however we do encourage users to move to some of the searches listed below.
2. New ways of thinking about teaching
2.1 Focus on teaching procedures
2.1.1 Select one Classroom Practice or Teacher Concern, find the teaching procedures (highlighted in yellow) that are listed and explore those:
e.g. 15 of the 60 articles called up by the Classroom Practice of Drill and Practice are generic teaching procedures such as A22 Dominos and E6 Reversing the Task; classroom examples of each of these can be found in Teaching Procedures Groups A and E
2.1.2 Explore a group of Teaching Procedures:
e.g. Group C -Procedures for increasing communication, participation and collaboration.
Moving to thinking about one’s teaching practice as an expanding set of generic teaching procedures is an important step.
2.2 Focus on aspects of learning and teaching in your subject
2.2.1 Select a Teacher Concern that matters to you and see how it has been tackled in your subject area, by adding your subject:
e.g. Students don’t read instructions carefully + Home Economics
2.2.2 Select a Principle of Teaching for Quality Learning that reflects an aspect of teaching that seems hard or particularly important to do in your subject and see what has been reported by adding your subject:
e.g. Provide opportunities for choice and decision making + Mathematics
These searches provide a way of building meaning for the different concerns and principles.
2.3 Focus on how issues of learning and teaching vary with different classroom situations
2.3.1 Choose a Classroom Practice where you want to improve learning, decide relevant Teacher Concerns, and try combinations:
e.g. Practical Work + Students dive into tasks without planning, then Students don’t read instructions carefully, then Students don’t think about how or why they are doing a task.
2.3.2 Select a Teacher Concern, identify the Classroom Practices where this concern is important to you and try combinations:
e.g. Students don’t link school work with outside life + some or all of Getting started/Introducing new information, Understanding other text material and Class Discussion.
2.3.3 Choose a Principle of Teaching for Quality Learning that reflects an aspect of your teaching that you would like to extend, select Classroom Practices where you would like to display this and try combinations:
e.g. Ask students to work out part of the content +Understanding Other text Material, then Note Taking.
Now the user is combining two sorts of searches that are independent of topic. This requires thinking about the issues of learning that are crucial and most prominent in different classroom practices.
3. Combining new ways of thinking about teaching with a familiarity with the database
For any question, issue or problem, search for relevant search fields from all the 18 search categories and try appropriate combinations. Two examples:
How can I encourage students to think about purpose and audience when writing; to explore and experiment with different forms of writing?
- Many teaching procedures in Group H (Learning Writing Skills)
- Classroom Practices: Writing Skills
- Teacher Concerns: 10 (Students dive into tasks without planning) and 15 (Students are reluctant to take risks in creative tasks).
- Examples: H5 Genres of writing; Writing skills + Concern 15.
I would like to build a collaborative classroom environment; both between students and teacher and between students and other students.
- Many teaching procedures in Group C (Communication, Participation and Collaboration).
- Classroom Practices: Group Work, Class Discussion.
- Teacher Concerns: 1 (Students rarely contribute ideas), 5 (Teachers find negotiations difficult) and 9 (Students won’t take responsibility for their own learning).
- Principles: 1 (Share Intellectual Control), 3 (Provide opportunities for choices and decision-making), 6 (Encourage learning from other students’ comments) and 7 (Build a classroom environment that supports risk taking).
- Classroom Practices: Group Work, Class Discussion.
This sort of search requires a familiarity with the various search categories that comes with practice at the previous sorts of searches. Depending on the question, the user may begin with a practice, principle, concern or group of procedures and then add others.
4. Further tips for experienced users
4.1 Articles coded to Does PEEL work with students? (under some outcomes of PEEL) all include descriptions or reports of some noticeable changes in students’ learning behaviours. Combining this field with Teacher Concerns such as Students don’t learn from mistakes in assessment tasks selects articles that can help make a case that PEEL can save time and/or energy and result in worthwhile change. Combining the same search field with different Principles also calls up articles that help show the value of these principles.
4.2 Combining Principle 9 (Target specific aspects of quality learning) with any teacher concerns generally calls up articles where the teacher is explicit about tackling that concern.
4.3 Articles coded to Achieving student change (under Strategic advice on sustaining student change) contain more general advice on planning a longer term strategy to change how students learn, with several of them being extremely rich in insight. Combining this field with a concern, a journey of change, a principle, or a classroom practice can yield a somewhat different type of advice. Articles coded to any of the Ten journeys of change also have a strategic focus on building change.