Transcript of Annotations on a unit of learning

CATHERINE THOMSON

Hello, and welcome, everybody, to Series 3 of Syllabus PLUS today. We're looking at 'Annotations of a unit of learning for English'. I actually don't have any sound today, so I do have my microphone working, so we'll just have to rely on the chat. The purpose of today is to start a sharing process between teachers and amongst schools. We've had a lot of theoretical discussions leading up to this point about our new syllabus, and the things to consider when we're planning and programming and thinking about our students. And now, today, it's time to start looking at what real schools have been doing. But before we start, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to elders past and present. I acknowledge the contributions of Aboriginal Australians and non-Aboriginal Australians to the education of all people in this country that we live in and share together - Australia. Before we continue, I just need to alert you to the fact that this session is being recorded and that the comments in the chat box are being recorded as well, and so just be mindful of that. And once this session's over, the contents of this session are copyright within the NSW DEC. Now, I do notice that Victoria Jenkins has her hand up. I'm sorry, Victoria. I cannot hear you today. But if you'd like to type your question in the chat, then I will try and answer it for you. Alright, today our learning intentions. We need to first examine the English K-10 syllabus in terms of responding and composing and the intent of the syllabus, just as a reminder. And we're going to examine some units of learning in relation to the planning process. And hopefully we'll gain some practical ideas and share in the work of other teachers. Alright, this is the planning process that I was referring to. And I have a poll here. If you could vote for me, that'd be great. "Have you seen or used this process?" This process is from our latest course, registered course. And each step of the process, we walk you through that process. Now, today I'm not going to do that in detail, but I guess what I want to show you is how these units have tried to follow this process and use this process. At the end of the presentation, you'll be able to download this PowerPoint, and it has the link to the course in it. So if you're not sure where to find the planning and programming course, you'll be able to find it by the end of the presentation. Thank you for voting, everybody. That's great. I'll leave it over there for us. Thank you. OK. Alright, so just back to the syllabus for a quick minute. Now, we all know, and you've seen me use this before, that the study English K-10 is the study in use of the English language in its various textual forms. What does that mean for us as primary teachers? The two key words here, I think, are 'study' and 'use'. Now, as primary teachers, we've probably been very conditioned to teaching about the use of language. And another way of putting that, I guess, is the literacy of English and the literacy of language in general. And that encompasses things like functionality, so students can function across KLAs and then getting down to those details, those fine tuning early concepts about print, actually how to write, decoding. And, of course, it's central to their achievement, not only in English but across KLAs and, of course, across life. And it's also central to communication. OK? So, we're quite used to that as primary teachers, and I'd also say that...quite expert in it as well. However, the study is probably what encapsulates a bit of a new element for us. And we're looking at ideas as texts, because, remember, texts are not natural constructs. They're someone's idea represented as a text, just like an artwork is someone's idea represented as a sculpture or a building is someone's idea represented, a Ferrari is an idea represented as a car, an app is someone's idea represented as a computer program. And this is important for students to know, that they have the power to represent their ideas themselves. And that's what they're really doing when they're speaking and they're writing and they're representing. It's all about craft and what has the author done to craft this message. It's about those aesthetic dimensions and the emotional connection that students make with texts and people make with texts, and that deepens the comprehension and it deepens the experience of texts. And, of course, it's about harnessing creativity and imagination and representing that in some way. Now, if we do all those things, both the circles together, then we are doing the English K-10 syllabus. If we're just relying on one of the circles, we're not encapsulating the intent of the syllabus. So remember that - the STUDY and USE. And I've got an example from our course here. So you can have a look at this. The essential question or the concept we're looking at is "How are words and images used to represent characters?" And that comes from the syllabus content. But also we know our students very well, and in this particular case they need to understand that "print conveys meaning" and they need to be able to create text "to represent an idea or person". So you can sort of see how those two circles are balanced up there. What we're trying to do when we come to writing a unit of learning is to develop a through line. Whether your using...whether you're doing it in early Stage 1 or Stage 3 or whether you're doing it for all the stages, if you're a small school, we're trying to develop a through line from the outcomes to the product and the knowledge and understanding that students have at the end of the unit. And we do that by the explicit and systematic teaching of English. Again, those two circles together. If we just have one, we're not encapsulating the full syllabus. Alright, remember that students are composers and responders of text. And it is through these processes that they make meaning of the text. And what we're looking for in a unit is that the unit should show this relationship. So we're looking for students being able to compose and respond or respond and compose. And they really go together - this is my little analogy - like that, like Yin and Yang, so they need to be together. So try not to have a writing unit somewhere and a reading unit and then an author study somewhere else. We want everything to mesh together really nicely. And, of course, one last thing to consider before we start looking at the units is something that is vital to all the English programs, is the text, OK? And what you can do when you're selecting text is ask yourself, "What is the English in this text?" And here are my examples. "Are you teaching this text because it's about gold or because it's a good example of characterisation? Are you teaching this text because it's about families or because it's a good example of point of view? Are you teaching this text because it's about the environment or is it a good example of persuasion? Are you teaching this text because it's about the solar system or is it a good example of imagery?" And that's what we're looking for. There's so many texts out there, and what we want to look at is what makes this text interesting from an English point of view, and how has an author or a composer done something really interesting that we can explore with the students. Alright, now it's time to have a look at the units. And firstly, I want to say, that we're looking at units from two schools today. One was written very early on, when the syllabus had just come out, and it was part of a curriculum collaboration program. And one has been written just sort of at the end of last year, early this year. Both units of work have been written in conjunction with some projects from Learning and Leadership, and before that CLIC. What I want to flag before we look at the units is that these units were written specifically for an audience. So when you download them, you might find they're 30 pages long or 50 pages long. That's not the intent of today, to show you that you should be programming in that much detail. The intent of today is to explore some of the ideas that teachers are using, and try and show how they're using that process. But whilst they've done that, they've provided questions and answers and strategies, and they've really tried to provide and in-depth look, so somebody could just pick up the unit and they could teach it. And they've tried to provide everything that a teacher would need. So, I guess, a bit like the COGs units where they're very text dense, these are too. But again, that would not be the way that anybody would be saying that you should program for your own personal use or your own school. The other thing is I've said, "Yes, you could pick up and teach it." But they are very much context based. So they have been written for specific students in a specific school at a specific time of year. So you may very well be able to pick it up and run with it or you might have to tweak it and play with it and just harness some really great ideas from it. So, either way, they're yours to use, but please use them in the way that they were intended, as a great sharing experience rather than "This is the only way to do it and this is the way you have to program." So, here is our process again. And what we've encouraged both schools to do is think about their students first and foremost, think about their students and then get into the syllabus and have a look and identify where their students are and what they want them to learn. And then you have to narrow that learning a little bit more. We'd like to talk about narrow and deep learning because we want you to identify the key ideas, skills or essential questions that are coming out in the syllabus. And you will notice that some great English ideas or concepts, such as characterisation, start in early Stage 1 and go right up to Stage 5. Well, we're not teaching the same thing in early Stage 1 as we are in Stage 5, so this is where identifying the key ideas, skills or essential questions really comes into play, and knowing what you want to teach. So, once you know what you want to teach, that means you know what you want your students to achieve, what does that look like? This is where we're planning our assessments. And this is a really important step. If we know the sorts of things we want our students to achieve and we know what that looks like, then we can plan our assessment and then we can plan our learning experiences to lead to that assessment rather than just embedding the assessment along the way and thinking, "Oh, yes, this might be a good activity to assess or this would be a good activity to assess." If we're very planned, then our students will get where we want them to go You can also, once you've planned your assessment, have a look at their prior knowledge of that concept. So, you know, a quick discussion about character in early Stage 1 and you will start to see where they are and you will start to see where you can go from. And then, of course, the text selection, which we've covered a little bit, and then the teaching and learning strategies, and you may need to adjust the content. And one of the units we look at has showed how they would differentiate the content. And, of course, we need to evaluate and reflect upon the process. So let's have a look at what some schools have done. OK, this is a Stage 2 unit of learning, and it's from Currans Hill. And the focus was on characterisation. And Currans Hill participated in a differentiation project that we ran, and they were absolutely delightful to work with and they're very happy to share this unit with you. So what I've done is I've picked apart a few pieces, and then at the end you can download the whole unit. OK, so what we're saying is, "Yes, we want to look at characterisation," but specifically what else do we need, what do our students need, and what are we really looking at? So you can see I've highlighted that in red. We've said they will develop an understanding of characterisation. But they're also looking at how composers of text use vocab, images and language forms and features to engage or position the reader and viewer. So they've noticed that their students obviously need some work on vocab and they obviously need to look at images in language forms and features and how they work together. OK, also inference - they're really looking at inference - and how effective organisation of ideas enhances meaning. That's quite broad. They probably could have narrowed it even further, but obviously they were catering for the needs of their students at the time. So if we go back to our process, they have already identified the syllabus outcomes, which I'll show you later, and here's where they're really identifying the key skills. And it's really nice to have a short... It can be even shorter than this and it can be in point form, really what you want your students to achieve and what you want to get to by the end of the unit. Now, just back, we're talking about our focus questions. Another way to do that or refine the learning even more is to use focus questions. And this is what Currans Hill have done. And, again, it's a really nice way of making sure that you are really on board with what it is you're trying to teach. So, "What is a character?" And that was one of the first ones, just to find out, really, what the students knew and where to start from. "How do we know what a character is like? How does the use of language features shape a reader or viewer's understanding of character? What do illustrations in the text show us about a character? How does the way a character speaks reveal more about their personality?" And "How can a character use their voice to project their personality?" So, they were the questions that Currans Hill have used. And I think they've used sort of one to start each sort of little sequence of learning experience. You may do it a little bit differently. Our course says you can sort of think in terms of what you want the students to know and understand and do. But this is a really nice way that they've done it as well. So, you can see that they're going to be really looking at language forms and features. You can see that they're going to be really looking at visual literacy and infer... Sorry. ..inferential comprehension, and, of course, grammar. OK, "How does the way a character speak reveal more about their personality?" And that's, you know, all embedded in grammar, and grammar changes the meaning and all sort of thing. So you can see that they've picked up some really key skills for that stage of learning, as well as looking at the whole point of character. And this is the content that they had selected for the reading and viewing, and while... For one of the learning experiences in reading and viewing. And what I really liked about this and I wanted to show you was, again, they're taking this idea of the processes as students being responders and composers and that the fact that they work together, they've taken that idea, and you can see they've tried to illustrate that in their planning. So they're looking at reading and viewing, and they're looking at writing and representing, and then grammar, which goes across both, and, of course, spelling, which goes across both. And if you...you can pay further attention to some of the content that they've picked, they've picked content that works really well together. And I'm just going to show you the first example. Understand how different types of text vary in the use of language choices depending on their purpose and context." And then down here in Writing, Understand how a range of language features can shape reader and viewers' understanding of subject matter." So you can see how they work really nicely together. So, lots of good things there. We've got the big English idea, we've got the skills that the students need, and they're trying to illustrate that idea that the students will be responding and composing while they're harnessing that. And I don't think they've picked too many content points. But again, you might pull that back a little bit, just depending on the needs of your students. Now, this is a screen shot of one of their units - a part of their unit - and something that they have done really nicely, and this is again for the audience, though, but they've really embedded the idea of model-guided and independent learning and teaching experiences. And this was to answer the content point about the language forms and features. So the other thing that you will find throughout the unit is because it was for a differentiation project, they've also talked down here about what they might have to differentiate for certain students in their class - learning environment, content or process. This is really nice up here. I just want to show you this, and you probably can't see it very well. But "The teacher blocks out descriptive adjectives and now rereads the passage to the students. We now know very little about the character and cannot make an informed decision about the character's role or personality in the text." So, what they're doing is they're playing with the grammar and they're showing how it changes the meaning of a text and how it brings to life or takes away from a character. So it's really nice to see that grammar embedded, and it's explicit teaching. And, obviously, if your students needed more, you could go and pull that grammar out even more, play with that and then bring it back to the text. So, a really nice way of embedding all those skills. Another nice thing that they've done, and you'll see on the cover, is they've tried to look at a way of looking at the text requirements and just noting on the front of their unit what sort of text requirements they're covering. And that's a nice way, I guess, if they're passing the unit around or whatever. OK, another way to look at a unit. This is just a unit overview and you can download this at the end. This one is about story and this was developed by Michael Murray, who was a Leader of English. And he's since retired, but he still works for Peter. And I know some of you will have seen him at Peter presentations. So, again, his big idea, he knows what he wants the students to... The big idea is story, but what he's really looking at is "How do composers make stories powerful?" And then he's got the focus questions here - "Why might composers include different stories within a text? Why do stories affect responders in different ways? How can students add power to their own stories?" They're his focus questions and, again, they're sort of short, but you can see there's a lot in there. And what Michael has done that's really nice is once he's come up with his focus questions, he's also come...and his outcomes, he's also come up with his assessment, and he's sort of planned what he wants the students to do before he's actually planned the learning experiences. So, then all the learning experiences will be able to lead to these assessments. OK, so, "Compare the use of stories within each of the three texts." They have to write and illustrate, they have to write a reflection, and they have to write a review. Then they'll also have to adapt a key moment of a story in a different medium, and they have to develop a guide for other students. So you can see there's lots...there's that nice relationship again between composing and responding. And they have to be able to articulate why they have done some of these things, which is really nice. Again, used that part of the...he's done that part of the process before he's done the rest of the process. Alright, this is a Stage 1 unit of work developed by Baulkham Hills North. And they did this at the very beginning, when the syllabus had just come out. And I think they have done a great job. Again, we showed them... Oh, sorry, Michael's unit was for Stage 3 and you can download the overview at the end of the session. This is a Stage 1 unit of work. And you can see again, the focus is probably longer than the way Michael had done it, but you can still start to see what they're really looking at, what the teachers are really looking at in Stage 1. So they're looking at the idea that things are represented in text, which is, you know, they're looking how text and environment can shape cultural identity. They're getting the students to respond and compose and they're using multimodal texts, which, as you know, that's quite a new element to the syllabus. But, of course, they know their students and they need comprehension strategies, and they also need some visual literacy, because what they really want to see is how image and text work together. I agree that the unit could also be used for Stage 4, Michael's unit, because it could easily be adapted to that. Alright, so look at the English in this learning experience. Now, I've selected this specifically because often when we try and write an English unit for something like sustainability, environmental issues, Indigenous Australians, we often get... I don't know how you'd say it. ..we get caught up in looking at a lot of the context around those issues rather than what the text is doing to tell this story or to tell about this issue. OK, and this is for Stage 1, as I've said, so let's have a look. 'You, Me and Murrawee', it's a text about an Indigenous Australian girl of times gone past, with...who's meant to be...a girl who's meant to be a modern-day girl. And they're both sort of in the same place, but it's really trying to show how time has changed. So they're really looking at, you know...they're asking about whether the girls are demanding - whether that means looking straight at the reader or just offering their gaze, and why that would be the case. And they really start to annotate what the author has done and what the illustrator has done to show this time. Again, it uses present tense. Great thing for Stage 1, especially if you've got EAL/D or EAL students, because tense isn't in a lot of other languages. And you can start to pick apart tense and show how it works, you know, using the comparative language. You can do a whole lot of that - pull it out, play with it and then bring it back and compare it to the text. And again, of course, you can bring up the idea of narrative and first person and second person. Looking at the illustrator's tools. And, look, none of the characters are demanding in their gaze. Now, what does that do? You could then compare that to a text where all the characters are demanding in their gaze and how does that change your reaction and, you know, why would this be chosen. They have the family side by side, but they're never touching. Why would that be? So, what that does is brings you all the English and the explicit teaching, the two circles together, and then, when you are going to talk about something in another KLA and students can read a text, they bring all this added inference to the text rather than just the decoding. And so it does work really beautifully. These were the content points that were chosen for part of that learning experience, so it's looking at speaking and listening, reading and viewing, and expressing themselves. And you again, you may pare down that content because it's quite a lot of content. But you have to plan for the needs of your students. Very quickly - I know we're near to the end - but I do want to show you this. You will find in the Badu unit, which is the Stage 1 unit, some beautiful tables like this. Again, if you're about to teach film, no-one's going to expect you to write this out. But this is sort of how you can stop at points and discuss what the visuals are really meaning. So you can see they've put the duration of the film, it's all black, what's happening, and what the possible meaning is. And so, they've walked the students through this. And it's just an idea for a way you might like to treat film when you start doing it. OK, very quickly because we don't have a lot of time, I'm going to get you to pause and discuss just amongst yourselves what is not English. So, I'm going to give you some answers, if you like - "family, community, resilience, gold, government, life cycles, the hero journey." Now, they're all important issues and probably if we search for them, we can find them in HSIE, PDHPE, Science and Technology. But they're not real English things to hang our unit off. So just pause. I'll give you probably one minute. And you can think about that and have a quick chat amongst yourselves. If you want to write a comment in the chat box, go right ahead. OK, I can see some people are typing. I would suggest that these things are English - imagery, characterisation, information, persuasion, imagination, appreciation, connections between texts", just to name a few. OK, great. "Where do we find these?" You will find these in the syllabus, in the content. Let's have a look. If you really have a look, you'll find information, persuasion and imagination, of course. If you have a look in our course, we will show you how to track appreciation and characterisation. Imagery is there, and connections between texts. The building capacity unit of work on the Australian Curriculum website, there's a whole lot of work done there about how you can do units on connections between texts. And my last newsletter had a little 7-minute Adobe with a link to the Board of Studies Program Builder with outcomes and content, so a little springboard. So, yeah, these sorts of things are what we're looking for with English. Now, you might have a beautiful text that's full of imagery, but, of course, the topic is 'family'. And if you're doing 'family' in Stage 1 for HSIE, well, that's great. But what you're picking apart in English is the imagery or perhaps it's the characterisation or the imagination or something like that. You know, the same with any of these. They are the topics that you might find in another KLA, and these are the English ideas that students need to know how to create and how to respond to. OK, now this brings us to the end of today's session. If you need any more information, of course, always contact me via email or via phone. I usually am in the office Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so that's a good day to phone. And if you haven't subscribed to the English newsletter, please do. Just do so by clicking on the link. And I'm going to take you to the final... Yes, the link gets sent to anybody who's registered to this event on MyPL, and that'll probably be this afternoon or tomorrow morning, Jen. This is the final layout here. Here we have the documents - 'characterisation' is the first unit that we looked at by Currans Hill. The 'Badu', there's an introduction and a context for the school and then the unit itself. There's also the slideshow that we've just looked at and the model unit plan by Michael Murray, and it's just the plan. As I said, it's not the unit. So, thank you very much for participating today. And we will...I'll put up a chat box now if you have any questions. But other than that, thank you very much.

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