Transcript of Looking at common modules and content

Transcript of Looking at common modules and content

Speaker: Jake Henzler

Alright, we might get started. So, welcome, everybody. Welcome back to people who were here last week and welcome to anybody who's joining us for the first time. You will see today I am without Prue. She's got something else on, so she won't be answering questions as we go like last time. Can everybody see the Question & Answer... the Question & Answer pod, but the first question that Sarah's posted in there? Great. Just, I know last week people were asking questions and you couldn't see each other's questions. OK, so people are typing 'yes'. Can everybody see the answers 'yes' in the Question & A pod over here from Lynette and Gaye? Excellent. OK, so you should be able to see everybody's questions as we go. I won't necessarily be able to answer them as we go, but I've set aside some time at the end to address anything that comes up. And I might get to some of them as we go.

So, alright, today's session is looking at the Common Modules and the content in those Common Modules. It might not be everything that you're expecting, but we'll see as we go. I've just deleted the questions, Janet, so that might be... the ones that said 'yes'. So that might be why you can't see them. Alright, so, the first Common Modules from the new syllabus exist in Year 11. And that's with the introduction of the Reading to Write module. We're not actually going to look at that one today because next week's session is specifically on the Reading to Write unit and The Craft of Writing. So we're gonna set that aside for next week. And instead today, we're going to look at some aspects of the Common Modules which run across English Studies, English Standard and English Advanced. So that is the Texts and Human Experiences module.

As we talked about a little bit last week, that the Common Module looks a little bit like the Area of Study did. And I know that people have... are kind of seeing it as a new Area of Study, just without the theme. And that's not inaccurate in lots of ways, but I think this is an opportunity to reframe our thinking about how we approach teaching in that unit. And hopefully that's part of what we will get to in some of today's content. The other new aspect, of course, as well, is that studies...English Studies now has that same common content, and the intention seems to be that Texts and Human Experiences unit from Year 12 will be examined the same way across each of the three courses, or at least mostly the same way. But people who have looked at the exam specs survey, you get that feeling.

Alright, so I wanted to break down some of the big ideas from that module, just from the rubric itself, to look at what we're actually supposed to be focusing on. And these were some of the phrases that I took out that I thought captured what it is that we're meant to be teaching or what we're meant to be focusing on in the texts that we teach. So, starting up here in the middle, "How texts represent individual and collective human experiences." So that's the kind of level that the text is working on. Is it about the individual or is it about a group - a small group or a larger group, maybe the biggest group of all? And then, "Human qualities and emotions associated with or arising from experiences," which is also quite vague, but I guess it's about the impact that human experiences have on individual people and on groups. This one's more interesting - The anomalies, paradoxes and inconsistencies in human behaviour and motivations." And I like that word 'motivations'. I think that's going to be a bit of an interesting... I think that's going to be a key aspect in the way that we examine texts - what motivates people to do things as a part of their experience. And then, "Representations invite the responder to see the world differently, to challenge assumptions, ignite new ideas or reflect personally." And that notion of representation is going to be a big one in this unit, I think. And then the last one, "The role of storytelling throughout time to express and reflect particular lives and cultures." So we'll see...we'll see how those sort of come out in the...in the explanation.

So, I've come up with this graphic that I think represents what we could say covers all of human experience, in a way. It seems like a big task, but hear me out. I'm phrasing it as a cycle of struggle and growth, that is that all human experiences on all levels are made up of struggles, things that we encounter, whether they're of our own making or external, and that through those struggles we either grow or we don't grow. Hopefully we grow from all of our struggles and that they bring us to a new understanding and then we go through more struggles, and it's a continual cycle - continuous even. And the reason I have 'personal', 'societal' and 'existential' here is that this same struggle we see repeated on multiple levels - that can be the individual struggle, but that that struggle can also be for maybe a cult...a particular cultural group or smaller than that, it might be a family or a nationality, and then above that we might have the struggle of all human beings throughout time, that there are kind of enduring struggles. The part over here, the central element there, these are meant to be dimensions of the human experience or aspects of the human experiences.

You're right. Yes, Tamera. That's...that's correct. So, the bits in the middle here are like the names that we used to give to the Area of Study. They're similar. But we're not considering only those things. We're considering how any of those things might play into the representation of experience in text. And so, the three kind of parts... And, of course, there are more along the way, but these are the three key ones that I'm trying to focus on just to shape our understanding of the unit, is that we have first motivations - things that make us want to do things. And those might be bad things, fears, or they might be positive things, desires, things that we would like to achieve. And then, our attempts to do those form our actions or maybe also our reactions to things. Sometimes texts are about the reactions that people have rather than deliberate actions. And then, once those actions and reactions have occurred, we reflect on what that experience has meant and that can, in turn, shape our motivations or the way that we think about things in the future, attitudes as well. Is everybody with me so far? Good. Good. OK.

So, the first way that this cycle applies is that texts represent that cycle. Texts depict people, characters, all sorts of levels of that cycle taking place. But narrative is about conflict, struggle and resolutions, so the learning from that struggle. And the text can represent it on a number of different levels. This is what, in the old syllabus, we used to call... you know there was that expression in and through texts", that the idea could be represented in and through texts. And this is that 'in' text, that it's occurring within the narrative of the text. The second level is that the text itself is a participant in the cycle. Now, this one's a bit harder. This is what we used to call "through the text". So, you could say that... that a person's actions or reactions, the things that happen to them, might lead them to or might be a part of their composition of text, that text is not just representing a struggle within the text, but the text might be symbolic of the struggle of the author or the struggle of a particular people or a particular society, and that that... so that that text becomes a part of the human experience itself. And similarly, on the other side of it, that the text... that responding to text is also a part of the human experience, that we are shaped by the things that we read in text. Text influences our ability to understand ourselves and other people.

OK, and so I've tried to break this up into clearer ideas, in case the diagrams weren't helpful. So, on the composing side, the composing text is a way of documenting, analysing, expressing the human experience, but that it's also a way of participating in the human experience by influencing the attitudes and understanding of other people. And then responding to texts is a way of appreciating the diverse experiences of others and better understanding the human condition. But it's also a way of sharing in and identifying with the experience of others so that the responding to text actually binds us to other people, that we have similar feelings because we've shared in that experience. And I've tried here to assemble some focus questions... things that I think would be helpful. When you're...when you're getting students to approach new texts that they haven't read before or haven't seen before, you could...you might come up with your own set of questions. But I thought these might be a good starting point for breaking down how a text is about text and human experiences. So the first one is, "Which aspects of human experience are represented in the text?" And that's those things in the middle of the circle, the...all those big ideas, what part of it are we talking about? What can responders understand about the human experience from reading this text?" So that's the ideas of the text that relate to what it means to be alive as a human being. The third is, "How is this communicated by language, forms and features of the text?" So that's all of the analysis that goes into it. And the last one is, "What role is the text playing in the human experience of its composer and/or responder?" So why is the text written? For what purpose? How is that affecting the people who read it? And maybe also what effect has that had on people?

Because the Common Module spans across the three courses, there's also...there's gonna have to be a fair bit of differentiation that occurs between the way that it's taught to each course. So what I've tried to do here is summarise the sort of starting points for how you might approach differentiating the course, depending on whether you're teaching, you know, a strong Standard cohort or a brand-new English Studies class. Maybe there's...maybe you have a very high engagement Advanced class. And I guess I'm just trying to help people think about how they might separate the content when it's all meant to be assessed... all the students will be assessed in pretty similar ways.

So the first point there is that subject matter and form of the prescribed text and of related texts that are selected for the unit should engage students. That...that we should keep that in mind when we're choosing the texts for the unit because we want to make sure that they're...it's...it's... sort of...ability-appropriate and that it's also...it's going to be of interest to them in some way. I will get to that in a minute, Christy. So, the "Language used to describe and analyse text should make the ideas in text accessible," so that the way that we actually talk about the text in terms of our analysis should be accessible to the students that we're teaching. I mean, that's pretty stock standard for English teachers. I think we tend to be on top of judging the ability of our students and using language that fits. And then the last one just there is the depth of analysis, which those words 'support' and 'challenge' are sort of chosen quite carefully, that...that the way that we try to teach the text and the ideas of the text to students should both support them - we want them to be appropriate for them, make them feel that those ideas are accessible - but we also want to challenge them as much as possible, so you want to extend the students at all times. So I guess it's reaching that balance between the two.

Christy, just to get to that question about the exam, there...I guess we won't really know until the final exam specifications are released, and it's hard to say at the moment. We're hoping... I was talking to Prue today and we're hoping that we'll do another couple of sessions next term sometime, once those specifications have been released, so we can talk people through them and explain how we think they represent or what they mean for teaching of the units. OK, this... this one on related material.

So, I talked last week a little bit about related material requirements, but there are a couple of interesting points to make about the related material for this Texts and Human Experiences. So, "Teachers can use resources to build students' analytical skills and understanding of ideas in the module." That's...of course, we do that all the time. But that...this "can also include appropriate selection and modelled analysis of related material by the teacher". So, you know, it's pretty common practice that teachers will find texts that they think work well, they will work with the class to break those texts down, analyse how they make meaning. That's a pretty common part of classroom practice. And that stems...in all of the units, that's what people are going to be doing. But there is this point in the syllabus that says the "formal assessment of the 'Common Module - Texts and Human Experiences' must integrate related material". So that means that at some point, students have to be writing about related material to the unit. In Standard and Advanced, the syllabus outlines that it must be student-selected related material, whereas for Studies it says that the related material can be selected by the student or by the teacher.

Now, I think somebody raised in last week's session that there isn't really a way of telling that...whether or not that's been selected by the teacher or the student. Yep, and you're right. It's not, in terms of outside of school, and, I suppose, we aren't able to check. That's really up to NESA to be deciding. But in school, I suppose that's up to schools to decide how they're going to decide the best way of determining that students have, in fact, selected the material themselves. And... OK, there's another point that this affects, though. So it says the "Formal assessment of the 'Common Module'... must integrate related material." But in terms of an assessment schedule, you might assess the Common Module twice. You might have an assessment dedicated solely to the Common Module at the beginning of the year, or the teaching year. And then you might also have an assessment of the Common Module occurring in, say, a trial HSC exam. So that would be two assessments of the Common Module. And there's no...there's no explanation in the syllabus as to whether or not the related material will be required both times. We have to assume, I think, that it wouldn't be required both times, that so long as it's done at least once, that that would cover the requirement to assess related material.

OK, the last few slides here are just about prescribed texts for the unit. So there are obviously... there's a pretty wide choice just on the face of it, just related to the prescribed texts themselves. And this is...the ones that I'm showing, sorry, are just for Standard and Advanced. The EAL/D ones we'll get to in a minute as well. But there's...there's an interesting point about some of these texts that I want to talk through. So, in the Standard course, all of these texts still form the same pattern, or the same availability as Year 12...sorry, as Advanced. But you can see here that each of the five texts here can be used in 18 different ways. If you chose any one of them, there'd be 18 different ways of combining them to teach that particular text. And the same for these four in the middle for the prose fiction texts, it would create 31 different patterns. So if you cover prose fiction in the Common Module, it gives you more options later on. And that makes sense, because the nonfiction film and media is a non-required component of the Standard course... I think. Sorry.

Anyway, the Standard course is not too much of a difficulty because there aren't...there isn't the double requirement of the Mod A, which I'm going to cover in some detail in Advanced in a second. I think it...Margaret, just in answer to your question about the storytelling throughout time, I think...I don't think it's a requirement that that's covered. I think it's suggesting that that's one aspect that we might look at, how stories at different points in history might have captured or described what it meant to be alive at that point, so how are those stories about the human experience that we're all going through. I think it gets back to that idea of the... of thematic concerns of texts that might always endure. When I say "patterns of study", Sharyn, I'll explain in a second. Just flipping over to Advanced. The numbers reduce a little bit, and I'm gonna explain this in some detail.

One of the head teachers from Ryde Secondary College - he's the relieving English head teacher at the moment - he's put together a really useful spreadsheet that I've shared here over in the files pod called HSC Texts Combinations. His name's Brenton Boswell. And I'm just going to share screen and show you the spreadsheet. So, the idea is... Sorry. If I disappear, I'm sorry and I'll be back in a second. OK, can everybody see the spreadsheet in the share pod just here? Great. So each of the columns here represents each of the modules. So the first column is the...is text available in the Common Module, the next one is Module A, the first text, the next one is Module A, the second text, and then Module B, last. And the way that Brenton set up the spreadsheet means that you can click the little 'sort' button here, so let's say for module... for the Common Module... Yeah, I'll try, Cheryl. It just means it'll cover the chat pod, but we'll see. So if we...if you want a text... teach a particular text for the Common Module, you just click on the 'sort' button and then obviously untick 'Select all'. And let's say we really want to teach 'The Merchant of Venice' for the Common Module, then you just select 'The Merchant of Venice', click 'OK', and then it reduces the number of possibilities down to only the ones that include 'The Merchant of Venice' in that first column. So...and then the set of texts go across here, so the top one would be 'The Merchant of Venice', and then for Module A 'Bright Star' and Keats, and then for Module B 'Emma'. So, we've selected the texts for the Common Module, then, let's say, we are really keen in the next module on teaching 'Bright Star' and Keats. So then we select this one, unselect 'all', and we're gonna say 'Bright Star' because that's the one we want. Then it shows us that there are three combinations that will allow us to teach 'The Merchant of Venice', 'Bright Star' and Keats, and then the third text can either be Austen, 'Great Expectations', or 'An Artist of the Floating World'.

So I might just downsize it a little bit and see if people have questions. Is that...does everybody understand how that spreadsheet's working? Great. I agree. It is great. And it makes that difficulty of making sure you've covered all of the elements really well. Yes. So, well, I'm only sharing. The credit belongs to Brenton for making it. So it's over here in the files pod - 'HSC Text Combinations 2019'. And, so there's the Advanced page at the beginning, and down the bottom there are these tabs - 'Advanced', 'Standard' and 'EAL/D'. And you just click across to them, and then you can sort based on whatever...you know, whichever course you're using. Now... So when I say "patterns of study", in answer to the question before, I just mean that if you were to choose, for example, 'Waste Land' from this nonfiction section, there are only four different patterns in that grid that would allow you to teach 'Waste Land' as the text for that section. Whereas if you weren't to choose that, if you were to choose instead 'The Crucible' for mod... sorry, for the Common Module for Advanced, then there would be 11 different results or ways that you could teach it.

Does that make that a bit clearer? Sorry, I've forgotten who asked before. Sharyn. Great. And, interestingly, just as a point of interest, all of those five texts in the nonfiction/film/media section, if you choose one of those, the only available Module A comparative study is 'The Tempest' and 'Hag-Seed'. So if you choose to do nonfiction film or media in mod...in the Common Module, or if you choose to do it in Module B, at the moment, based on the Advanced list of texts that have been supplied from NESA, it means that you are only able to teach 'The Tempest'/'Hag-Seed' combination. So it's just an interesting point to look out for. Alright, and that brings us to the end of the presentation itself. And there are just the other dates for the upcoming sessions. And I'll stick around for five more minutes if people have more questions. No worries, Adria. Nice to see you. Oh, good. Thank you, Fiona. I'm glad.

I should say too that the PDF for the presentation... for today's presentation is over in the files pod as well. It's 'English Stage 6 2 Common Modules'. And the one from last week is still there. It's '1 Unpacking'. Yep. So, Leza, you just go to the top right of the download files pod and then click. You can go download all at once or you can just individually select them and then hit 'download file'. Teneille, there will be a recording and the URL for the recording will be on the main page of this room. So at the end of the session, I'll close this...this part. We'll go back to the main page and I'll paste the link there. And if at any point you lose it and want to come back for it, you can just follow the same link that got you to this room and it'll be there. No worries. Thanks very much, everybody.

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