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Special Edition Teachers as Researchers:  Foreword

Dr Linda G. Traylor

Pages i to iii

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Why the Teacher?

Dr Jake Madden

Principal, Al Yasat Private School, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Education across the world is seeing greater scrutiny on the role of the teacher as the focus on international measures like PISA, TIMMS and PiRLS offer comparative data on student achievement. The upshot of this spotlight is the identification and the subsequent examination of what effective teachers do to raise student attainment levels. Traditionally, teaching was concerned with the teacher controlling the learning environment; deciding the content, standing and delivering the learning, expecting to fill all students with the same knowledge, at the same time, using the same teaching tools. Pages 1 to 5

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 Four Pillars to Building a Positive School Culture

Dr Jake Madden

Principal, Al Yasat Private School, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Effective leaders have a plan. A vision for learning. They know where they want to go. Effective teachers have a plan. A vision for learning in their classroom. They know what their students need to know and do. Outstanding schools are full of effective leaders and teachers, and have positive learning cultures. Pages 6 to 10

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Implementing Systems to Impact Student Engagement Through Cooperative Learning

Ambreen Mohammad

Al Yasat Private School, Abu Dhabi, UAE

This article explores how one school in Abu Dhabi, UAE implemented the Kagan model of cooperative learning as a school wide strategy to increase student engagement, communication, critical thinking and teamwork skills. The first part discusses the four principles that differentiate cooperative learning from group work. These principles as embodied by the acronym PIES (positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation and simultaneous interaction) outline the conditions that must be met when designing learning experiences that are cooperative in nature. The latter part takes a look at four leadership principles i.e. creating focus, influencing others, establishing expectations and providing support that form the basis of creating systems that facilitate school wide implementation of Kagan cooperative learning. Examples of specific tools and strategies that were deployed to impact student engagement on school wide level through cooperative learning are discussed. Pages 11 to 20

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Data – Its Relevance to Perspective

Asma Zafar

Al Yasat Private School, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Data - the word has a wider enormity to what it actually means. In simple terms, the word data refers to extended information regarding anything and everything. This includes practically everything around us including living objects, non-living things, static and non-static items, space and beyond. The purpose of this article is to discuss data in an educational environment from a practical point of view. Using the processes at Al Yasat Private School we discuss the different sources of information used, how it is collected in a consolidated form so it is both available and reliable at the same time and what relevant information we derive from it so it is meaningful for both staff, students and parents. Pages 21 to 31

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The Role of the Contemporary Library in Nurturing 21st Century Literacy Skills

Annie Madden

Al Yasat Private School, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Much has changed in education in recent years and as schools adjust to meet the learning needs of students so does the role of the teacher librarian. This article offers insight into how the teacher librarian can value add to the literacy development and learning across the school through targeted support of both student and teacher. This article investigates the role a school library can play in supporting learning and reading skills for contemporary learners. In turn, how the skills learned through a proactive library environment can help to prepare our students for the world they will enter for employment. This article brings to light research from the US, UK and Australia to elaborate on the role of school libraries and the future of these entities. Pages 32 to 39

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Assessment for Learning in the Writing Classroom

Reem Rekieh

Al Yasat Private School, Abu Dhabi, UAE

This article reviews various research studies discussing the impact that particular assessment for learning strategies have on improving attainment of writing. The purpose is to relate observations found in the literature to the context at Al Yasat Private School in an attempt to develop and implement better strategies of assessing for learning in the writing classroom. The complementary relationship between self and peer assessment engages students in the process of assessing and being assessed. Through this journey, students develop the skills in their own writing that they are able to identify as areas of improvement in their peers’ writing; ultimately leading to improved attainment. Pages 40 to 46

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 Developing Creative Writing Skills in Emergent Writers

Tracey Cannon

Al Yasat Private School, Abu Dhabi, UAE

The purpose of this action research was to observe and monitor how emergent writers developed creative writing skills using a creative writing tool known as a ‘squiggle book’. The study tracked a sample of twenty-four kindergarten students’ creative writing progress over the course of an academic year. In doing so the author addressed the need for a more innovative and unrestricted creative writing outlet where students could write freely and fully engage in the imaginative creative processes. Through the study the sample of students also actively engaged their critical thinking, and speaking and listening skills. The sample of students and the author sat together on a one to one basis at the end of each ‘squiggle book’ entry to assess and discuss the piece of writing completed by the student. The author kept detailed notes around these conversations and the observations made of the ‘squiggle book’ entries, these field notes formed the basis of the findings of the study. It was found that progress and attainment was not limited to creative writing skills but was shared across many significant developmental areas. Pages 47 to 52

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Guided Reading – How Daily Three Technique Helps in the Kindergarten Classroom

Saiqa Zahoor

Al Yasat Private School, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Guided reading is a structured, practical way of matching reading instructions with diverse individual readers in the class. It provides opportunities in a small group setting to give direct instructions to meet the needs of specific individuals. Through modeling or prompts, teacher guidance/coaching allows students to think about the reading process and helps build comprehension skills so they are able to read the text with understanding. Research evidence supports the provision of requisite guidance for students having reading difficulties. Guided Reading is one of the most widely implemented approaches to early reading instruction (Fountas & Pinnel, 1996), as it deemphasizes explicit instruction and practice of reading skills for guided reading of the students at beginning phase.  In the past decade much research has been carried out to provide guidance to early childhood teachers on how guided reading could address the challenges of reading in the early years. This article evaluates the existing practices of guided reading in the Al Yasat Private School against the backdrop of the available research on the subject and suggests measures for further improvement. Pages 53 to 60