Engaging personally with texts

Explore the study of texts in K-6 classrooms.

Explore syllabus rationale and consider the aim of subject English.

English K-10 Syllabus

  • The rationale tells us what subject English is all about. 'English is the study and use of the English language in its various textual forms’.
  • At its broadest level, English could be conceived as the study of how ideas are represented in texts, especially through language, and how ideas are connected, within texts and between texts.
  • The Organisation of content page says the study of English is an active pursuit where students use language to learn about language.
  • The aim of English in Years K–10 is to enable students to understand and use language effectively, appreciate, reflect on and enjoy the English language and to make meaning in ways that are imaginative, creative, interpretive, critical and powerful.

Policy

The department’s Literacy K-12 Policy defines literacy as:

1.1.1 Literacy is the ability to understand and evaluate meaning through reading and writing, listening and speaking, viewing and representing.

Literacy in the context of NSW English K-10 Syllabus

The English learning area has a particular role in developing literacy because of its inherent focus on language and meaning. However, all curriculum areas have a responsibility for the general literacy requirements of students as they construct meaning for themselves and others.

Use a Venn diagram to guide your thoughts. For example:

English

  • study of ideas in all textual forms
  • values

Literacy

  • central to achievement of learning
  • functionality of language

What do English and literacy have in common?

  • knowledge and skills
  • understand and evaluate meaning

Definitions

  • Engaging personally with texts – one of the key processes in the syllabus. It is intended to ‘emphasise student agency through students developing and applying knowledge and understanding of context and language forms and features, and reflecting on their learning.
  • Making connections – learners make personal connections from the text with something in their own life (text-to-self), another text (text-to-text), something occurring in the world (text-to-world).
  • Representation – The way ideas are portrayed and represented in texts, using language devices, forms, features and structures of texts to create specific views about characters, events and ideas. Representation applies to all language modes: spoken, written, visual and multimodal.

The stage statements give a big picture of the intended learning for students by the end of a stage. These extracts relate to concepts of representing and making connections:

  • Early Stage 1 – They interpret and provide relevant explanations of characters and main events in imaginative texts, and key ideas and visual features in short informative texts, making connections to personal experience
  • Stage 1 – They use an increasing variety of skills and strategies, including knowledge of text structure, context, grammar, punctuation, word usage and phonics, to make connections between texts and their own experiences and information in texts.
  • Stage 2 – Students identify literal information in texts and make inferences, integrating and linking ideas and asking questions to clarify understandings. They recognise the representation of characters, settings and events in imaginative texts and start to evaluate point of view.
  • Stage 3 – Students independently read and view an extensive range of complex texts and visual images using a comprehensive range of skills and strategies. They respond to themes and issues within texts, recognise point of view and justify interpretations by referring to their own knowledge, values and experiences.
  • Stage 4 – Students make connections between texts, they recognise the main ideas and points of view, and the ways in which texts seek to position responders

Representation and making connections

The intent of the syllabus is to connect students to texts and engage them personally. The Stage 1 content below shows how representing and making connections are embedded throughout. This is true of all stages in the syllabus.

Objective A

EN1-1A Speaking and listening 1

  • explore different ways of expressing emotions, including verbal, visual, body language and facial expressions
  • use role-play and drama to represent familiar events and characters in texts

EN1-2A Writing and representing 1

  • create short imaginative, informative and persuasive texts using growing knowledge of text structures and language features for familiar and some less familiar audiences, selecting print and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose
  • compose a range of written forms of communication, including emails, greeting cards and letters
  • draw on personal experience and topic knowledge to express opinions in writing

EN1-4A Reading and viewing 1

  • discuss different texts on a similar topic, identifying similarities and differences between the texts
  • use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning and begin to analyse texts by drawing on growing knowledge of context, language and visual features and print and multimodal text structures
  • compare opinions about characters, events and settings in and between texts
  • identify visual representations of characters’ actions, reactions, speech and thought processes in narratives, and consider how these images add to or contradict or multiply the meaning of accompanying words

Objective B

EN1-6B Speaking and Listening 2

  • make connections between different methods of communication, for example Standard Australian English, Aboriginal English, home language, sign language and body language
  • recognise different oral texts, for example conversations at home, in the classroom and playground

EN1-7B Writing and Representing 2

  • identify the audience of imaginative, informative and persuasive texts
  • discuss some of the different purposes for written and visual texts
  • describe some differences between imaginative informative and persuasive texts
  • compare different kinds of images in narrative and informative texts and discuss how they contribute to meaning
  • discuss the characters and settings of different texts and explore how language is used to present these features in different ways

EN1-8B Reading and Viewing 2

  • understand that texts can draw on readers’ or viewers’ knowledge of texts to make meaning and enhance enjoyment, for example comparing fairytales
  • respond to a range of literature and discuss purpose and audience

EN1-9B Grammar, Punctuation and Vocabulary

  • recognise, discuss and use creative word play, for example alliteration and onomatopoeia
  • understand how texts are made cohesive through resources, for example word associations, synonyms, and antonyms

Objective C

EN1-10C Thinking Imaginatively and Creatively

  • recognise the way that different texts create different personal responses
  • respond to a wide range of texts through discussing, writing and representing
  • recognise and begin to understand how composers use creative features to engage their audience
  • identify and compare the imaginative language used by composers
  • identify creative language features in imaginative texts that enhance enjoyment, for example illustrations, repetition
  • recognise similarities between texts from different cultural traditions, for example representations of dragons in traditional European and Asian texts

Objective D

EN1-11D Expressing Themselves

  • identify aspects of different types of literary texts that entertain, and give reasons for personal preferences
  • recognise simple ways meaning in texts is shaped by structure and perspective
  • respond to texts drawn from a range of cultures and experiences
  • identify features of texts from a range of cultures, including language patterns and style of illustration
  • discuss characters and events in a range of literary texts and share personal responses to these texts, making connections with students’ own experiences
  • identify, explore and discuss the morals of stories from a variety of cultures, for example Asian stories, and identify their central messages
  • express preferences for specific texts and authors and listen to the opinions of others
  • respond to a range of texts, for example short films, documentaries and digital texts, that include issues about their world, including home life and the wider community

Objective E

EN1-12E Reflecting on Learning

  • discuss some of the ways that story can be reflected in a variety of media, for example film music and dance

Connections in the classroom

Personal engagement with texts allows students to make connections between the text and themselves. It is the intent of the syllabus that students engage with texts and identify how texts relate to themselves, other texts and the broader world. Making connections is an aspect of comprehension that encourages inferential and high order thinking. Making connections encourages rich talk about texts and allows students to understand that no text exists in isolation.

Watch the clip ‘’Rich talk about text’ (12 minutes) to see an example of how students can engage with texts and participate in rich discussions.

Think about:

  • what texts you could I use in your classroom
  • what texts could be used to teach concepts of representing and making connections
  • how texts can address aspects of the syllabus about representations and making connections.

There are many ways to group and study texts. Students need to study a range of texts to be fully able to understand the representations and connections of ideas. You should explicitly teach the wider world context of the text, as no text exists in a vacuum.

Examples

The following texts are grouped together as a sample of how you might approach enabling students to make connections and understand representations in a range of texts. The types of learning experiences and questioning around the texts would depend on the stage level.

Syllabus material referenced is from the English K-10 Syllabus © 2012NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales

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