The Teaching and Learning Cycle

Instructional scaffolding, Zone of proximal development, Pedagogy

A large-scale project undertaken by Joan Rothery (1996, cited in Derewianka, B & Jones, P 2012, p44) with children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds in urban Sydney resulted in the development of a pedagogical model of how to effectively teach literacy in a learning environment. This model is now known as the teaching and learning cycle. The model originally had an emphasis on teaching young students how to write but has changed and adapted over time with greater understanding about pedagogy and genre and now involves reading, listening, talking and writing within a supportive context to students of any age. A key element that has not changed within the cycle, however, is the extensive and critical support that the teacher provides to ensure educational success for students’ understanding of literacy. This essay will examine the teaching and learning cycle in the primary school context. Exploring theories behind the development of the teaching and learning cycle and the purpose of each stage. In addition, an explanation of the importance of teachers as holders of expert knowledge will be given. Finally, examples and justification of specific teaching strategies, including the notion of scaffolding and the zone of proximal development, that the teacher plays within the cycles processes will be explained.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries the popular educational theory was that children should only be taught how to write in the later years of schooling (Christie, F 2005). A common issue that arose from this was children would leave schooling early and the result was that they never developed the skills to write more than simple words like their name or basic words (Christie, F 2005). The initial theories by Graves (Christie, F 2005, p143) were based around a notion of the ‘process’, being able to write, rather than ‘product’, the content and structure of the text being written (Knapp, P & Watkins, M 2005). Rothery’s approach was focused on the...
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