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Collaborative Strategies

What is collaboration? Friend and Cook explain interpersonal collaboration as “a style for direct interaction between at least two coequal parties voluntarily engaged in shared decision making as they work toward a common goal” (1996, 6). Collaboration describes how people work together rather than what they do. It is a dynamic, interactive process among equal partners who strive together to reach excellence. In the 21st century, educators’ overarching common goal is increasing achievement for all learners.
Collaboration can happen in the planning, implementation, and assessment stages of teaching. It begins with planning the partnership itself. In formal collaborations, collaborators must schedule time to meet. Ideally, they preview the lesson ideas to each other in advance of the meeting so that planning can be more focused. Each person can then bring possible goals and objectives to the meeting, along with ideas for curriculum integration, instructional strategies, student grouping arrangements, and potential resources. In the planning process, educators establish shared goals and specific learning outcomes for students as well as assessment tools to evaluate student achievement. They discuss students’ background knowledge, prior learning experiences, and skill development and determine what resources will best meet learners’ needs. Educators decide on one or more coteaching approaches, assign responsibilities for particular aspects of the lesson, and schedule teaching time based on the needs of students and the requirements of the learning tasks. They may set up another meeting before teaching the lesson and schedule a follow-up time to coassess student work and to evaluate the lesson itself.
The goals and objectives are the most important sections on classroom-library collaborative planning forms. While negotiating the best way for the teacher-librarian to coteach curriculum standards and to integrate information literacy skills, the “backward planning” framework (Wiggins and McTighe 1998) charges educators with knowing where they are going before they begin determining instructional strategies and resources. This planning model is centered on student outcomes.
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Effective Learning Environments

Most children come to school ready and willing to learn. How can schools foster and strengthen this predisposition and ensure that young adults leave school with the motivation and capacity to continue learning throughout life? Without the development of these attitudes and skills, individuals will not be well prepared to acquire the new knowledge and skills necessary for successful adaptation to changing circumstances.
In school, teachers manage much of students’ learning. However, learning is enhanced if students can manage it themselves; moreover, once they leave school, people have to manage most of their own learning. To do this, they need to be able to establish goals, to persevere, to monitor their learning progress, to adjust their learning strategies as necessary and to overcome difficulties in learning. Students who leave school with the autonomy to set their own learning goals and with a sense that they can reach those goals are better equipped to learn throughout their lives.
A genuine interest in school subjects is important as well. Students with an interest in a subject like mathematics are likely to be more motivated to manage their own learning and develop the requisite skills to become effective learners of that subject. Hence, interest in English is relevant when considering the development of effective learning strategies for English. In contrast, anxiety about learning English can act as a barrier to effective learning. Students who feel anxious about their ability to cope in mathematics learning situations may avoid them and thus lose important career and life opportunities.
Finally, the majority of students’ learning time is spent in school and as such the climate of the school is important for the creation of effective learning environments. If a student feels alienated and disengaged from the learning contexts in school, his or her potential to master fundamental skills and concepts and develop effective learning skills is likely to be reduced.
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Lortie begins by briefly reviewing the history of school teaching in America. He reviews the balance of continuity and change that’s taken place in schooling over the last three centuries. By measuring how the work of teaching changed over time, and how it didn’t change, we can understand the school system and how it influenced school teaching. He then explores the context of teaching during his present day. Lortie discovers three major orientations that are shared by all teachers. However, even these are not new. They were mostly detected by Waller in the 1930s and again by Jackson in the 1960s.
These orientations have been universal to the experience of schoolteachers for almost 80 years. Continuity becomes evident in these foundations, therefore, and definitive patterns now begin to become explicit for defining teacher development. A completely redefined school culture must become the medium of reform. This comes down to changing how schoolteachers think about social action, a recommendation that was common to Waller. This must begin by teaching teachers about how they think about these actions. It assumes that teachers must begin thinking about their actions in sociological terms. Passions, emotions, and feelings – all of these can be defined sociologically, and Lortie believes that if these are theorized appropriately we will likely have the means towards positive change. Schoolteachers are anachronistic in their thinking. This could be because they still self-select themselves. In doing so, they bring centuries of tradition with them into schools. But Lortie believes that a few simple alterations can undo these problems. Before prescribing these simple alterations, however, he provides us with an incredibly thorough examination of elementary school culture with especial attention to the main organ of that culture: the schoolteacher.
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Severe Behavioural Problems

Very severe behaviour problems sometimes require a more boundaried approach. Here, a child may not gain a reward because the behaviour is too severe. It is good to discuss such major incidents in class meetings to discourage behaviour of this severity.
An example of a particularly difficult-to-manage behaviour is a child refusing to leave your classroom when requested to do so. This requires a very systematic approach:
1.      Walk towards the child you need to leave your classroom and stand to the side of them, slightly behind them.
2.      Bend down and in a low and steady tone say, “I’m not accepting this behaviour from you. I would now like you to the leave the classroom and wait outside the door and think about whether you would like to change your behaviour and come back in to the classroom or go down to the head teacher’s office.”
3.      If the child does this, wait a few minutes to give them time to calm, and then go outside the classroom and say, “Well, what is your decision…to change your behaviour and come back in?…or go to the head teacher’s office?”
4.      The child more often than not chooses to return to the classroom.
5.      If (after point 2) the child will not leave the classroom after being requested to do so, either use the class phone (if there is one), or instruct a sensible child to go and inform the head teacher of the situation in order to implement the school behavioural policy.
It is important to acknowledge that there may be times when the school behavioural policy will need to be implemented.
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Effective Rewards

Rewards (or reinforcers),when they follow behaviour, make that behaviour more likely to occur again (Skinner 1974). They formthe basis of human behaviour and motivation, and can be used effectively to encourage children to acquire skills and develop appropriate behaviour. Rewards encourage positive behaviour, therefore a typical day needs to include a series of rewards to help focus the children. Encourage children to suggest rewards they would like as selecting appropriate reinforcers is not a simple task. If a reinforcer is not reinforcing for the child then it is meaningless. Teachers must continually monitor the effectiveness of the rewards and regularly change them, again, with the input of the children. Establish rewards and consequences that are easy to do and as simple as possible. Effective rewards are those which are attractive, well-timed and conditional.
In summary:
  1. Always reward or give positive attention to the behaviours you want to increase and maintain.
  2. Immediately reinforce good behaviour with positive consequences
  3. Keep rewards simple, small and frequent to maintain attention and motivation.
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The Concept of Reinforcement

Reinforcement is a concept developed by the famous behaviourist, B. F. Skinner (1974), and fundamental in his theories of human behaviour. Reinforcement basically stipulates that behaviour is more or less likely to occur based on the consequences that follow it. So, if a behaviour is followed by positive reinforcement, that behaviour will be more likely to occur again. All human behaviour can be seen to be governed by schedules of
Reinforcement is one of the most important tools and essential for encouraging change in a child’s behaviour. Difficult behaviour cannot change if good behaviour is not acknowledged and reinforced; catch a child doing something right/good, i.e. opening a door for a friend, then reinforce this good behaviour, i.e. praise. Never stop praising!
Basically, when a child displays good behaviour, however incidental, remember praise, praise, praise. This positive reinforcement will make the behaviour more likely to occur again. Consistently reinforcing good behaviour is just as important as creating rules and issuing consequences.
A powerful reinforcer of good behaviour is in front of a group, class or whole school. Peers can be a powerful form of reinforcement to aid behaviour change. For example, a child who finds it difficult not to react, walks away from a situation which would usually have caused them to react. This “walking away” behaviour is then reinforced in front of the class, e.g. praise and/or token rewards (see p.54–55). Reinforcing good behaviour is not only an effective way of increasing good behaviour; it is also a natural way of increasing a child’s self-esteem. Children feel good about themselves when they feel that they:
1.      feel noticed by others
2.      are told what they have done well and rewarded for this
3.      feel respected by others through points 1 and 2 above
When children feel good about themselves they become more inclined to behave better in the classroom.
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In principle, the ‘habitual, fluent, correct and accent-free use of two  languages’ (Paradis, 1986) – or of more than two languages. However on this definition, few individuals qualify as complete bilinguals. It often happens that a bilingual is not equally competent in different aspects of the two languages: they might, for example, have a more restricted vocabulary in one than in the other or might exhibit different abilities in respect of speaking, listening, reading and writing.
Furthermore, many bilinguals use their languages in ways that are domain-specific: one language might be used in the family and one reserved for educational contexts. The imprecision of the term ‘bilingual’ is not helped by a tendency among some psycholinguists to use it when referring to foreign language learners who are relatively advanced but have certainly not achieved a competence that is native-like.
Grosjean (1982) defines bilingualism in terms of language use rather than language proficiency. For him, a bilingual is somebody who needs and uses two or more languages in everyday life. A majority of the world’s speech communities use more than one language; and about half the world’s population is believed to be bilingual in this sense. In addition, ther are many bilinguals who are the offspring of mixedlanguage couples.
An early account of bilingualism (Weinreich, 1968) proposed three types. In compound bilingualism, conditions in infancy are equally favourable for both languages, and words in both are attached to one central set of real-world concepts. Co-ordinate bilingualism occurs when conditions in infancy favour one language over the other; the consequence is that the infant develops two independent lexical systems, though meanings overlap. Subordinate bilingualism occurs when the second language is acquired some time after the first, and so remains dependent upon it. These categories have proved difficult to substantiate. However, the stage at which the two languages are acquired remains an important consideration in recent accounts, which often distinguish simultaneous bilingualism (both languages acquired concurrently), early successive or sequential bilingualism (both languages acquired in childhood but one preceding the other) and late bilingualism (the second language acquired after childhood).
Simultaneous bilingualism arises during ‘primary language development’, which commentators regard variously as occurring during the first three or the first five years of life. Exposed to two languages, infants initially mix vocabulary and syntax from both. In naming objects and actions, they often adopt the first word they encounter, regardless of which language it comes from; though in their morphology they may exhibit a preference for the less complex of their languages.
The unitary language hypothesis concludes that these infants start out with undifferentiated language systems. They begin to distinguish between the two sets of data by restricting each language to particular interlocutors, situations or pragmatic intentions. At the next stage of development, the infant distributes its vocabulary between two separate lexical systems, and becomes capable of translating words from one language to the other. However, the same syntactic rules are usually applied to both systems. In a final stage, the languages become differentiated syntactically, and mixing declines.
An alternative separate development hypothesis maintains that the two languages are distinguished from the start by the infant and that the phenomenon of mixing simply shows two incomplete systems operating in parallel. Simultaneous bilingual acquisition appears to follow a very similar path to monolingual acquisition. There is no evidence that the acquisition process is delayed when more than one language is involved, though early vocabulary levels may be slightly lower in bilingual children. Nor do similarities between the two target languages appear to assist acquisition: an English-French bilingual does not develop language faster than an English-Chinese one.
In successive bilingualism, there is much greater variation between individuals. The time of acquisition of the second language (during the primary period/before puberty/in adulthood) may be a factor; while mastery of the later language may be limited to certain domains. In some cases, the acquisition of the later language is additive, resulting in the use of two systems in parallel. In others, the effect may be subtractive, with the later language replacing the first in some, many or all domains. The acquisition of a second language by an immigrant may even lead to the attrition of the original language if the speaker has to communicate mainly or exclusively with members of the host community.
A distinction is made between adult bilinguals who are balanced and those for whom one language is dominant. A balanced bilingual has been represented (Thiery, 1978) as somebody who is accepted as a native speaker in two linguistic communities at roughly the same social level, has learnt both languages before puberty and has made an active effort to maintain both of them. Fully balanced bilinguals are said to be rare.
Bilinguals may not always be aware of which language is their dominant one, and it has not proved easy to establish dominance. One approach has been to ask individuals which language they are conscious of having spoken first; though many recall acquiring both simultaneously. Another is to ask individuals to express a preference for one of their languages. There may be a relationship between dominance and anxiety, with the dominant language resorted to in times of stress or tiredness.
Experimental methods to determine dominance have included rating bilinguals’ language skills across languages, self-rating questionnaires, fluency tests, tests of flexibility (checking the ability to produce synonyms or draw upon a range of senses for a particular word), and dominance tests where bilinguals read aloud cognates which could be from either of their languages. Even where dominance is established, the situation may not remain constant: the relationship between languages may shift as the individual’s linguistic needs and circumstances change.
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