The Focal ladder functions as a checklist for educational lessons. These terms are also the essential elements of the animation medium. Once these were identified it became apparent that these elements could be part of all teaching as they cover basic elements of teaching and learning. The following table provides additional information about each word in the Focal ladder and these categories are also used as the basis for my recommendations.

Focal ladder













Lesson plans

A recipe analogy is helpful for understanding the role of lesson plans. A recipe is required and closely followed when someone is inexperienced and wants to ensure that they follow a logical path. The recipe becomes increasingly less important when someone has the necessary experience to apply the same procedures again.

Most experienced teachers are more likely to use lessons planners where their whole week or term is planned by using keywords. This allows for a logical progression of content without having to spell out every detail for themselves. “One manner of distinguishing explanatory-understanding from exploratory-understanding level teaching is the tendency of the former to adhere quite closely to lessons plans as drawn and to wrap up each unit in a complete package with no loose ends. This tendency has significant implications for motivation...” (1) The Focal ladder could assist in the development and implementation of lessons by showing if any important areas have not been considered. The most common omission is the element of interactivity.

Best practice

Advances in pedagogy should not automatically replace previous constructs. I propose that the focal ladder is a way to consolidate various other systems for greater clarity and ease of use. As this thesis is titled "Animating Best Practice" it is worth noting what best practice is considered to be. The six Principles of Learning and Teaching (PoLT) (2) were developed in 2004. These principles are stated with examples of how they might be applied. I have listed these and highlighted the ones that are relevant to animation in red. Some are also followed by my own comments in blue.

1. The learning environment is supportive and productive.

In learning environments that reflect this principle the teacher:

* 1.1 builds positive relationships through knowing and valuing each student.

* 1.2 promotes a culture of value and respect for individuals and their communities.

* 1.3 uses strategies that promote students' self-confidence and willingness to take risks with their learning.

* 1.4 ensures each student experiences success through structured support, the valuing of effort, and recognition of their work. The publication or viewing of this work would lead to recognition of their efforts.

2. The learning environment promotes independence, interdependence and self motivation.

In learning environments that reflect this principle the teacher:

* 2.1 encourages and supports students to take responsibility for their learning. Students want to be involved in all of the details with animation.

* 2.2 uses strategies that build skills of productive collaboration.

3. Students' needs, backgrounds, perspectives and interests are reflected in the learning program.

In learning environments that reflect this principle the teacher:

* 3.1 uses strategies that are flexible and responsive to the values, needs and interests of individual students.

* 3.2 uses a range of strategies that support the different ways of thinking and learning.

* 3.3 builds on students' prior experiences, knowledge and skills.

* 3.4 capitalises on students' experience of a technology rich world.

4. Students are challenged and supported to develop deep levels of thinking and application.

In learning environments that reflect this principle the teacher:

* 4.1 plans sequences to promote sustained learning that builds over time and emphasises connections between ideas.

* 4.2 promotes substantive discussion of ideas.

* 4.3 emphasises the quality of learning with high expectations of achievement.

* 4.4 uses strategies that challenge and support students to question and reflect.

* 4.5 uses strategies to develop investigating and problem solving skills.

* 4.6 uses strategies to foster imagination and creativity.

5. Assessment practices are an integral part of teaching and learning.

In learning environments that reflect this principle the teacher:

* 5.1 designs assessment practices that reflect the full range of learning program objectives.

* 5.2 ensures that students receive frequent constructive feedback that supports further learning.

* 5.3 makes assessment criteria explicit.

* 5.4 uses assessment practices that encourage reflection and self assessment.

* 5.5 uses evidence from assessment to inform planning and teaching.

6. Learning connects strongly with communities and practice beyond the classroom.

In learning environments that reflect this principle the teacher:

* 6.1 supports students to engage with contemporary knowledge and practice.

* 6.2 plans for students to interact with local and broader communities and community practices.

* 6.3 uses technologies in ways that reflect professional and community practices.

Animation will not cover every outcome or objective but it does cover many of them. This is because students embark on integrated units of work that combine several skills and processes.


(1) Bigge (1999:258)


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