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Case studies

The case studies below focus on the inquiry phase in which teachers engage their students in new learning experiences. The table below presents the indicators of effective teaching practice for that phase and some examples of what these looked like when focusing on Pasifika students. The case studies feature two highly effective teachers with classes of predominantly Pasifika students.

Indicators: Engagement of students in new learning experiences

Examples of practice focusing on Pasifika students

  • Teachers use student data to design and deliver learning sequences.
  • Teachers explicitly teach strategies for written language.
  • Teachers explicitly teach language and vocabulary.
    See case study 2.
  • Knowing about and applying principles of second language acquisition.
  • Providing opportunities for tuakana/teina pairings.
  • Providing opportunities for communicative tasks.
  • Providing opportunities to develop fluency.
  • Teachers make meaningful connections.
    See case study 1.
  • Connecting to Pasifika world views, knowledge, languages, experiences, and texts.
  • Making links with Pasifika students’ island homes and local familiar domains, for example, home, market, church, beach, mall.
  • Using Pasifika interaction practices, for example, metaphor and humour.
  • Teachers build effective teacher–student relationships and foster interactions that are focused on learning and build student agency.
    See case study 2.
  • Supporting Pasifika students to articulate their learning.
  • Supporting Pasifika students to develop higher order thinking.
  • Providing opportunities for oral modelling and repetition.
  • Teachers cater for diverse learning needs.
Case study

1: Making meaningful connections for Pasifika students

The teacher introduced the lesson with a language experience based on a Samoan interaction pattern – the use of metaphor to share a message – to illustrate levels of weak to strong narrative writing. Her mostly Samoan students immediately connected this to their knowledge of effective narrative writing.

She then shared a personal recount of her recent trip to Sāmoa for a family bereavement. The sequence was jumbled, and students needed to collaboratively “unjumble” it. Toward the end of the lesson, she explicitly referred to and reinforced the learning about metaphor:

Student: ...She was like a sister to you.

Teacher: Yes, absolutely, what sorts of words tell you that? You are right about “darkest”, anything else? Oh “my heart was about to explode”; “dearly loved”. So what is it, what sort of word is it called when you ... say something like “I couldn’t think or read instead my heart and head felt like they were about to explode”? What is that called when you use language like that?

Student: A metaphor.

Teacher: And what does a metaphor mean again?

Student: It is something that isn’t real.

Teacher: Right, so a metaphor is like when something is going to happen, but it can’t really happen because my head and my heart can’t really explode. Is there any other language in there that ... shows you a metaphor?

Student: “The world stopped.”

The teacher’s willingness to share her family bereavement created an authentic focus for her literacy teaching. Her students were fully engaged in the learning because she had been absent for an extended time and they wanted to hear about her trip. The interactive language tasks enabled them to make connections with their world and their literacy knowledge; they then used their explicit knowledge of the structure of a recount to write about a shared experience – the recent school gala. The writing purpose was authentic because the teacher had not been present at the gala and wanted her students to provide her with an account of it.

Building learning, reciprocal relationships and partnerships with the Pasifika learners’ parents, families, and communities led to a shift in teacher practice and supported literacy gains.

Case study

2: Supporting language learning and agency for Pasifika students

The conversation below took place between a teacher and her year 6–7 students during a lesson focused on evaluation. During this brief exchange, the teacher builds students’ agency while scaffolding their oral language development and vocabulary acquisition. The teacher:

  • probed and extended the students’ ideas
  • introduced the vocabulary necessary to complete the task by weaving it seamlessly into the learning conversation
  • amplified rather than simplified language so that the students could learn the academic language needed for success
  • used speaking frames, such as “I think that ... because ...”, “In my opinion ... because ...”, to explore the criteria for effective responses
  • provided an opportunity for student-to-student talk to enable fluency development
  • provided time for the students to process and articulate their thinking.

Teacher: So for today’s lesson, there are two catchphrases that we are going to use to show our evaluation. One is going to be “I think that”, and the other one is ...?

All: “In my opinion.”

Student: “Because.”

Teacher: Who can tell me why we need to have that “because”? This may be a good time to say why you need to have “because”. Do a “think, pair, share” on why we need to have “because”.

[Students think, pair, share]

Teacher: 3, 2, 1. Now, when we use this “because”, that is providing what?

Student: Evidence. Student: Or proof.

Teacher: Or proof, and when you are trying to prove something, it is called ...?

Student: Justifying.

Teacher: Justification. That “because” is your justification of what you do. All right?

You can read an extended discussion of this teacher’s practice on pages 168–179 of the report.

Download the full print version: Issue 27: November 2012 (PDF, 1,008 KB)