Transcript of Programming in English

A process for planning and programming with the NSW syllabus for the Australian curriculum English K-10 Adobe presentation

SPEAKER

CATHERINE THOMSON

..later or use it with your staff. So just again, because we're about to record, welcome. My name's Catherine Thomson and I'm here with Annette Gray, and we're about to proceed with "A process for planning and programming with the New South Wales syllabus for the Australian curriculum English K-10." And we are... I do know some more people are joining us, so if they do come, that'll be great. And let's get started.

ANNETTE GRAY

Before we start, is anybody having a problem with their sound?

CATHERINE THOMSON

OK. And you can raise your hand. Oh, hi, Mia. How are you? It's so lovely that you could join us. Alright. Now, we thought we'd start with looking at how most of us currently plan with our...with the current English K-6 syllabus. So traditionally we have used...text types to plan. We might have planned via the strands - reading, writing, talking and listening. We might have really looked at the language functions. Or we might have planned by linking directly to KLAs.

Whatever we were doing in HSIE - we might have been transferring over to our English. And I've got an example here. This is something that I have done with the current syllabus. I did a COG unit, products and services, with Stage 1, and we had a wonderful time. We looked at factual texts, so we wrote a lot of explanations, recipes, diagrams, that sort of thing. We programmed via reading, writing, talking and listening. Our language function was explaining, and of course it linked in a very big way to HSIE, Sci-Tech and Creative Arts. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, but we would say to you that the new syllabus, English K-10, has another dimension and really needs a different way of thinking, because if you have a look at this red stop sign here, English is defined as the study and use of the English language in its various textual forms." And what I've probably described to you is very familiar over here, it's more the use. So now we've also got to think about the study of it.

Now let's remember that although literacy and English are very, very closely related, English does have content in its own right, and we need to remember to keep that English integrity. You may have seen this Venn diagram before, but let's have a look at literacy. Literacy is central to the achievement of learning and it's about the functionality of language. And I don't think we could argue there. It's all about knowledge and skills. We understand and evaluate meaning. And of course it brings power. Now, English does those things as well, but the added layer here is that it's about the aesthetic dimensions of human experience and it's about the study of ideas in textual form. That's very important there, I think.

The study of ideas in textual form. And, of course, we can, through English, we can treat values as well. I'm going to hand over to Annette, and she's going to talk to us about texts.

ANNETTE GRAY

Sorry.

CATHERINE THOMSON

Sorry, Annette's microphone...

Sorry, Annette's microphone wasn't on, so we'll start that bit again.

ANNETTE GRAY

This brings us to looking at text, and this is one of the most important changes that we have in the new syllabus. The current syllabus had texts sitting there as if they were isolated blocks and true to themselves as they were, and, as we all know, that was really difficult to work with, because that's not how text works.

What we have to do is make connections between texts. And so, with the new syllabus, what we've got is three different areas where texts fit, so we've got persuasive text, we've got imaginative text, and we have informative text. And texts will play one or two or even three of those roles in the children's lives and in the things that we're going to be working with them.

What I want to do is show you...show you some examples of text, because one of the things we need to be careful of is that this doesn't mean that we can just look at persuasive or imaginative or informative text by itself. That's not how it's going to work. What we need to do is look at what is actually in a text.

So here is a lovely text. It's about a...a snake, and the snake is situated in this tree and it's part of a narrative text, which would be an imaginative text, and as you can see, the imaginative has been coloured there. It also has some information, though, because we find that the text says, A bird drops onto a branch. He pokes at the bark unaware that he's being watched very, very closely. Python smells the air, lies in ambush, and waits." So we've got information coming through there and we have it in an imaginative setting. It's not terribly persuasive at this point. So this text covers two of those areas.

Here's another text - this is from the ABC site for kids. And this text is informative - there's lots of information there. It's persuasive - it's brightly coloured, designed to get children to have a look at all those things. We could suggest it's imaginative, but there's not a lot of imagination in it. It's really more an information text for children to look at.

The next one - this is a birthday party invitation. And this covers all three of those types of areas of text and what they do. This is a persuasive text, because it's trying to encourage a child to come to the party. It's imaginative - it's being used in a clever way. And it's informative, because it provides all the details about the birthday party.

So what I want you to do is just think about the ways that you could consider using these texts. Think about the ways that you could approach text as they cover those three domains. When we come to how the new syllabus is organised, this is page 16 and 17 of the print version of the new syllabus - this is the table of objectives and outcomes. If you're not very familiar with this, it's probably a good idea to go back into the DEC...online modules. There's one called 'Your School and the English Syllabus', and it contains a whole lot of information. But this is the...an overview of the table.

So what we've got is the objectives down the left-hand side of the page. Is that going to work? Sorry. The objectives down the left-hand side of the page - there are only five of those. And then we have the outcomes organised the way they do them. We've only gone across to Stage 3 at this stage, apart from the last four.

Now, what we've got is speaking and listening, writing and representing, reading and viewing, and spelling, are all in Objective A, which is about communication. We also have speaking and listening, writing and representing, reading and viewing, which is all about using language. And those are all context-based, so all of these are about making and respond...responding to text. Sorry, and writing and representing text.

When we come to grammar, that goes right across to the end of Stage 4. And the last three of those objectives are about being imaginative - that is, thinking in ways, expressing themselves as users of English, and reflecting on learning in English. So what we have is this essence of English inside the new syllabus. But it's not all what we're about. What we have to look at now is the deeper aspects of what makes English, English. Catherine.

CATHERINE THOMSON

Thanks, Annette. Alright, if you have any questions, there's a little man at the top where you can raise your hand, or obviously you can type in a question on the chat here, because we'd love to have a bit of a conversation with you. So at any time, stop us, and we can talk about something. Alright, so we just showed you the way the outcomes are set out in the syllabus, making it very hard to think about how we harness those outcomes. And one way of harnessing those outcomes is through concepts.

So, if we look at especially the English K-6 part of the syllabus, two big concepts will stand out - that is, representations and connections. If you start to read through this recursive content, you will see that it's looking at how things are represented in texts and how things connect. So that's a starting point, and then everything flows from there. How do you do this, though?

Well, what we have done, and we have a few people who have done this with us - we've had our 7-10 colleagues Michael Murray and Prue Greene, and I had another colleague from the school who was working with us for a while, Mirina Joska - she helped as well. We've gone through and we've identified content that is recursive and that works together. So, for an example, here you can see the highlighted sections, and this is the content that is...you can find that stands out. And you'll see it repeat over and over in the other outcomes.

So, for example, when we're talking about identifying favourite stories, authors and illustrators, we're looking at that idea of appreciation. And that's there. OK? If we're looking at audience and purpose, which just comes out so much in the syllabus, we're looking at representation, because if something is written for a specific audience or a specific purpose, it's represented a certain way, and that's where that concept comes.

We're looking at the author craft a lot, and we're looking at communication. Now, I've specifically chosen Early Stage 1, as you can see. You can see these concepts start to build in a very simple way, but nonetheless they start to build right from Early Stage 1. And they keep going until we hit Stage 5. Here we have a Stage 3 outcome, a multi-modal outcome of responding and composing, and you can start to see those same things here again. Here we're looking at interpretation. Again we're looking at the craft. Representation comes across very strong. And perspective, point of view, persuasion - all about positioning the reader.

Now, this is the English content that is unique to English. OK, if you have a look at these list of concepts here, they've been identified by Prue, our 7-10 colleague, as all the concepts that she can find in Stage 4 and 5. What we'd put to you is you can start to track those concepts from Early Stage 1. Apart from probably some of these ones in pale blue, all the rest you can start to see. And you might not call them that with your students, but you will start to build upon them.

What we have done is put together some of the concepts, not all of them. But we've tried to track some for multi-stage environments. So something... And we'll talk a little bit more about this. But something like...here we are, personal response to text. So in Early Stage 1, students just have to identify that they're allowed and they have a personal response to text, building up to responding personally, which means they have to start to justify, and then we build on to point of view, and then we build on to connecting in a personal way with texts from different times and cultures.

So you could see that if you had a Stage 1 and Stage 2 class, you could take this big idea and teach it accordingly. We are going to have a close look in a moment at the idea of character and show you some examples of how that plays out. But before we do that, Annette's going to talk to you about concepts.

ANNETTE GRAY

When we start to plan to program in English, what we need to do is go back to our quality teaching documents. And it's very clear that what we are about is translating the syllabuses into classroom programs, lessons and learning activities. What we need to do is be very clear about what are the essential knowledges, understandings, skills and values, but what is that concept in English that makes English English, or any other subject, what it is. So the central concepts are what drive us. And this is our definition of a concept, and you can apply this to science and technology or history or mathematics. It's a significant notion that reflects the core ideas of the content being taught and enables students to comprehend and create meaning. And as Vygotsky says, it is "an active part of the intellectual process". It's concepts that make the subject what it is. Now Catherine's going to take us through the process of developing a Stage 1 concept. Sorry, a concept in Stage 1. Beg your pardon.

CATHERINE THOMSON

Thanks, Annette. Thanks, Annette. I keep referring to 7-10, and if you have a look at the current 7-10 syllabus and compare it to our new English K-10 syllabus, you will see that much of it has not changed a great deal. So really what has happened is the K-6 part of English has tried to come on board with the 7-10 part, and that's why the work that has gone before us in 7-10 is proving so useful now with trying to harness these outcomes. So again I've taken something that Prue uses a lot with the 7-10 teachers and we've tried to adapt it for a primary context.

Now I'm going to walk you through it, so please, at any point, add a comment or...and we will stop and talk about anything that you need help with. So first of all, I told you that after reading through the content we were able to track the idea that characterisation is a concept throughout the syllabus. In Early Stage 1, it's definitely there. But what is that essential learning that we want the students to know in Early Stage 1 about character? We want them to start to realise that characters are represented. So how are characters represented? And that's what we need to start working on with them. That's the English learning. No matter whether they're fabulous readers, you know, struggling readers, no matter whether they're brilliant at writing or they've never written a thing, that is the English content that we need to get across to them.

Now we start to think about how we do that and where our students are. So we look at this section here. We've decided that we need character as our big idea. Here are our key skills. Now, if I think about the class that I left before I came to this position, they would need, definitely, help with the visual understanding elements of the syllabus. And they were an ESL class, so expressing and justifying a point of view, they would definitely need help with that, and they would need help in all the modes. So this is here where I...this is a two-way process, really. I'm thinking about my students but I'm also thinking about the specific outcomes and content that they need. So it doesn't matter which one you start with. You can back or forward. But that's the idea.

Now we start to get down into the nitty-gritty. So I've decided that this is what the students need, and I know this from what I've previously taught them or the information that I was given from last year's teacher, depending on where you are in your year. I've identified...and in this process I've identified the outcomes and content. Now, it's really important when you've done that to think about the text, and Annette's going to talk to you about that later. But what I have done is I've identified texts that have strong characters - easily identifiable strong characters represented in different ways. 'The Fantastic Mr Fox'. Three really easy characters that are beautifully...beautifully described in different ways, plus the fox, of course. I've also picked that because some of my precocious readers in Stage 1 are going to be able to read that text, and I will be able to access that in when I'm doing some guided teaching of reading.

I've picked 'Mr Gumpy' because the way he describes...the grammar that describes the characters is really interesting. I've picked 'The Cat in the Hat' because, again, another larger-than-life character, but there's a lot of CVCs and rhyming and blending, so my struggling readers will really have fun with playing with those words. And, of course, I've picked 'Rosie's Walk', which...and I've picked the animation version so we can start to really look at the visual literacy of how the idea of character is portrayed without any words at all and just looking at the way the screen focuses in on the characters and the way the characters walk and move. Over here this is where you start to think about other resources and considerations. ESL teacher in the room, an STL teacher in the room, Reading Recovery, whatever it might be, that's where you start to plan for that. And then down here, of course, this is the teaching strategies and the assessment. And, of course, in a primary setting, they have to work hand in hand.

So, Annette is going to show you a... Ooh, sorry. Annette is going to show you a Stage 3 version and then we're going to put another layer over this.

ANNETTE GRAY

OK, so can we just talk about those outcomes?

CATHERINE THOMSON

Sorry, if I do that, if I do what I said with the character, I'm easily going to hit those outcomes. Depending on the teaching strategies I choose and, of course, the text that I choose, I can do those ones as well. So, it's very easy to cover the content of the syllabus this way with the real view that English has its very own content. Thanks, Annette.

ANNETTE GRAY

OK, well, I was very impressed with this little way of looking at text, and I thought, "Well, if this is a way of programming for the teaching of English in Stage 1, how does it look in Stage 3?" So what I want to do and one of the things that I find students in Stage 3 have many issues with is how do they use language for effect? How does a text make you feel? And we've not done an awful lot of work on that over the last few years using our English syllabus. What is the effect of a text? And how can I plan to program to examine how composers create a mood? Well, that's alright. What I really want to have a look at is how do...how do authors choose the figurative language that they do?

Students in Stage 3 are starting to think in much more objective ways. They're starting to be much more analytical about their thinking and they can start to develop the ideas of metaphor, the idea of simile, and start to really understand how and why authors use this. So what I did was to go into the same process as Catherine did. So what we've got here is my concept in Stage 3 is the effect of text on the reader.

Now, this didn't just spring beautifully from my pen. This took a lot of work and thinking, because what I'm thinking about is the standard Stage 3 class who, you know, they're reading and they're reading reasonably well but the...the Cluster 12 markers say that they should be reading texts with increasing levels of abstraction and they should be analysing texts to see how readers and viewers are positioned. So I thought, "Alright, that's my key skills that I really want to get through and have children being able to work on in here." So we go back up, then, to the concept. What's the essential learning in that concept? And that is how do composers use language and other techniques? So that's alright, that links directly with my key skills. I then went into the syllabus and had a look at how language is used to achieve a widening range of purposes, and there are numerous parts of the process we can look at there. But the other part is this Objective C, where the students think imaginatively, creatively, interpretively and so on. So what we're doing is having a very practical view but also taking the students into this emotional response and imaginative response to text.

Now, from there I thought, "Well, alright, the next step is which texts am I going to go into?" And I wanted to make these a bit challenging. Patricia Wrightson has written a series of three books called the 'Wirrun' series, and the second book opens with a sentence that goes, The old southern land lay across the world like an open hand," and then goes on from there. And I thought, "Well, that's going to give me a nice, straightforward simile to be able to work with these students." So I take the opening paragraph of that text and use that, and we would then analyse that for...or we'd just appreciate it.

First of all I may read...when I come down to here I may just read the...the text to them and then go back and talk about it. Another one - I want them to get into more demanding texts. 'Beowulf' is an Old English saga, and there's a particular translation by Ian Serraillier which is really powerful. It has beautiful poetry in it, and it also has wonderful language and wonderful descriptions and lots of different techniques used. But I also want to be able to use other text as well, and I've...we've got the link here to 'The Traveller' by an Australian artist called Anna Glynn, which is an animation - there's no speaking in it at all. And I would use that and see how she has used those essential elements. And so I would probably use the ones that come from Wrightson, which would be simile, metaphor, perhaps personification, and alliteration, because those are very common. They're also very common in 'Beowulf'. And it would be interesting - we can't do alliteration, but the other three we can do quite happily with 'The Traveller'.

Now, what I would then do is think very carefully about how I'm going to teach these and our teaching strategies and assessment, what it's going to look like, so that I know that my students are understanding this concept and working out how composers use it. Now, how I decide to measure that would be perhaps the students speak about it - it's simply a "discusses here", "thinks imaginatively". Maybe I would ask students to do some writing, perhaps not - it doesn't necessarily mean that I would. I would also pull in my ESL teacher and my STL if I had them and so on, as Catherine said.

Now, I found this process of going through the planning for this very straightforward and very clear. It works easily and...well, it doesn't work terribly easily, but it's a very clear process to follow because I've got to change my thinking about I'm planning for programming. We can start at any point, but here's where we really need to go from. So let's just go on and have a look at, "How do I choose these? What happens with my texts?"

What we have to do is address the learning across the curriculum content, and when we choose our texts to use with teacher...with our students, this is one way of making sure that we're addressing the learning across the curriculum. Texts which are widely regarded as quality literature - that's easy. A widely defined Australian literature. We have here a wide range of literary texts from other countries and times. Everyday and community texts. So we can choose our texts to use with the students not from one type, but from a range of texts that are going to help us to encompass all of those learning needs across the curriculum. Now, that's a bit hard to plan for, so what we've got here is an overview that you can develop for yourself. We could actually provide you with a copy of this - we're working out how to get that link to you.

CATHERINE THOMSON

If you want that link, you'll be able to press on here later, and it's actually on the English blog. Sorry, here when I'm saying 'here' is over here. It's actually on the English blog but also...

ANNETTE GRAY

Thanks, Nonie, for your question. I've just had a look at that. Catherine, do you want to deal with that now? We'll just go back to that...having a look at that.

CATHERINE THOMSON

Sure. Yes. What I was going to say, Nonie, was if we go right back here, to this idea of... All this content, as I said, is very...it repeats, it's recursive. So you'll find similar content here and you'll find similar content in... I'm just trying to get my pointer for you. You'll find similar content in lots of the outcomes even at the same stage level. So because the process is the same, you will find content that mirrors things that are happening in other outcomes. So that's why we have put the concept at the top, because that's almost a combination...that's almost a combination of the outcomes merged together, and then with that, teasing out which specific outcome are we dealing with and which specific part of the content are we dealing with? Now, this is just a pathway, so if you want to try putting the outcomes at the top, go and have a go and see how it looks and see how it works...

ANNETTE GRAY

And it's not really designed to be hierarchical in character, it's just that we have to address the concepts of English as English, and that's why that needs to be so...so foregrounded. OK, so in this diagram here, what we have is this comment here - Across a stage of learning, the selection of texts must give students experience of:" And there are all the things that are required. Now, what we've got is spoken, print, visual and digital texts including film media and multimedia, and this is simply a way of tracking across your class or even across your school what texts you may cover.

For those people who don't have a wide range of texts at their disposal you can plan it. Make sure that you don't necessarily do 'Matilda' in Early Stage 1, Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3, and by the time we get to the end of the...primary school, the kids are sick to death of it rather than really relishing the idea. So that document is available for you over on here on the 'Content and text requirements'. Alright, we're going to have to speed up a little bit, Catherine. So let's just whiz straight into what do we do?

CATHERINE THOMSON

Alright, well, we wanted to talk to you because you'd say, "Well, what about the teaching/learning cycle?" So we've thought of that as well and we've overlaid it, so let's have a look. This is where we start to say, "What do I want my students to learn? What big, essential English ideas do I want them to learn?" And that's where we have that part of the teaching/learning cycle. Now we have our key skills. So this is where we're thinking of, "How do they learn to read?", all those skills.

This is where we think about where they are now and what they really need as far as that everyday, where to...those little steps, where to next, OK, and especially in the literacy part of thinking about things, the understanding of how to decode and express a point of view as well. That's where we think about that. And then of course these two need to go together, OK? They need to work in tandem. "How will I get there?" And, "When do I know that my students are there?" They need to work in tandem. And that's when you're planning your teaching and assessment strategies.

ANNETTE GRAY

So that's combined those very nicely, but we also have these other wonderful helpers that we can resort to as well and we can call on. The Literacy Continuum, the NSW Literacy Continuum, sits in here with "what are the key skills that my students should be demonstrating in this stage or at this time of the year... Sorry, in this stage or at this part of the stage. So the key skills that we want students to be able to do will come from there, and I found that very easy to match that up with the types of things I wanted to do. We also have ESL scales, EAL/D, the ESL Steps, EAL/D concerns. And we have down here the activities that we can access from the Literacy Continuum which will inform our teaching strategies and our assessment. So these two, the Literacy Continuum comes in at different levels, as do the ESL Steps. And so that gives us the opportunity to draw on all those resources that are available. The teaching comprehension strategies, of course, fit in here to ensure that our students achieve all these...the essential learning but also the key skills. And so the Super 6 strategies, the comprehension strategies, fit in there nicely too. Catherine.

CATHERINE THOMSON

And I'll just quickly go back to here. This is also about differentiation. Here in the key skills, this is where you start to differentiate the learning, and, of course, down here in the teaching and assessment, that's where we differentiate the learning. And when we're picking the texts up here, that's where we differentiate the learning as well. So the model does encompass lots of things that we need to think about in the classroom.

OK, if you would like to have a look at an overview for this unit, I actually sent this link out in the last e-news, so you might have already seen it. But Program Builder...we will go there now and just have a look. There is...as I said, there is a link, so I can share it with you, actually, is probably the better way to do it. And then you just share because we're running out of time. You just share...you just save it into your units. But I did an overview for you to have a look at. I haven't actually got down to the teaching activities yet. Any comments or... Sorry. Ah. Aha. Any comments? Nice one there. Any comments or questions at the moment? No? Would you like to have some time to have a look at the Program Builder? 'Cause I can sign in and show you. Or would you just prefer to see the link? That's... No? OK. Alright.

Now, just to leave you with this, Alyson Simpson, who is a professor at the University of Sydney, says that you need to be able to do the four-step or five-step rule - pick up a text, look at it for things that students may need, really read through it another time, and find the concepts and the teaching points, create some teaching points, and then read through it again. And if you can't read through it four times and find it interesting, don't use it. And our old friend Oscar Wilde says, If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, then it's no use reading it at all." So I think when we're dealing with students, we need to remember those rich and authentic texts are going to be the ones that will help us deliver the English content the best.

And, of course, if you want any further information or anything at all, please let us know. There are our emails. And if you haven't already subscribed to the English news, please do so just by sending an email. And if you haven't seen the blog, go through the portal to blogED and it's "English in a NSW primary classroom".

Thank you, everybody, for joining us this afternoon.

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