Powerfully Literate at Lillydale Assignment 2 forETL411 Teaching the Curriculum 1 / Integrating Literacy Leonie Rowan
Welcome• Thanks for taking the time read these materials• For those who I haven’t really met, I am a new teacher at Lillydale Primary School in Logan on the Gold Coast of Queensland. I teach year four students and I LOVE everything to do with reading.
Welcome• That’s a coincidence because….as we know, 2012 is the National Year of Reading in Australia.• Probably because I am always walking around with my head in a book (or my ears in a book thanks to my ipod or my eyes on a book thanks to my ipad) Ms March has asked me to put together some ideas about how we can promote the National Year of Reading in our school for the rest of this year.
A plan• In the pages that follow I will discuss some of the influential ideas I have been reading about reading (and, indeed, about the purposes of schooling). I’ll then go on to talk a bit about how I plan to use these resources to help my year four students develop the kind of ‘powerful literacy’ associated with successful readers and successful learners. I’ll discuss the contemporary model of reading that I believe is most relevant to our school context—specifically the four resources model put forward by Freebody and Luke (1999)—and then outline three specific reading needs that this model helps us address.
A plan• I’ll finish with some examples of the specific strategies I plan to use with my students to meet these goals, and with some ideas for ways we can link this work across the curriculum, and to some other important global events such as the United Nation’s International Year of Sustainable Energy.
A beginning• I want to start by saying that like many of us here I am driven by a passionate commitment to help create the best possible futures for our learners and to be part of a profession that is also helping our students understand their role in a wider social, global and political context.• So…let’s start with a video.
Powerful Ideas• The video makes the powerful point that access to quality education has life long and life wide consequences. Ironically, the powerful nature of this video (and others like it) can actually help to generate a sense that it is only those living in the under developed or developing countries of the world who really who face this level of risk.
Reality Check….• Yet in Australia we have our own version of this educational problem. The children most at risk of educational alienation and failure today are the same children who were at risk twenty years ago.• The kids in our school who come to us with English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D), from non-traditional family forms, from Indigenous, low socio-economic or rural and isolated communities remain at consistently higher risk of educational alienation and failure than their middle class, non-Indigenous, English-as-first-language peers.• Here’s another video that helps to make this point.
• So…the clock is ticking in Australia too.• Importantly as this video helps to suggest, patterns of educational success and failure are not carved in stone. Nor are they biologically or genetically determined, and incapable of change.
I believe that…• Regardless of the subjects we are best at teaching or the age group we most commonly work with, all of us can play a role in creating powerfully literate, confident, optimist learners.• our work in our school can connect with work in other schools nationally and internationally to help achieve long term educational change: a commitment that is supported by a Sustainable Energy agenda.
Aims Talk• This requires a school wide commitment. For this reason I am a believer in what Nel Noddings describes as “aims talk”: talk that extends well beyond discussion of curriculum objectives and learning outcomes to include reflection upon the purpose of education: who wins and loses in our classrooms and the short and long term consequences of these patterns (Noddings, 2003).• To get things started…I propose that in regards to the teaching of English, we should be working towards the idea that it is possible for us to help ALL our students become “powerfully literate citizens” (Sawyer, 2007).
What is powerful literacy?• According to Sawyer, powerfully literate citizens are those who are able to “realize their goals and aspirations”, and “ participate effectively as citizens and in the twenty-first century” (Sawyer, 2007, p. 44). These are learners who possess not only the operational literacies necessary to decode texts but also the critical and cultural literacies that allow them to interact with a changed and changing world in the most effective, powerful and politically informed way possible.
• A powerfully literate citizen is able to participate actively in their society. A powerfully literate student, by extension, is able to participate fully in the activities of their society: their school, their community, their home.
• I believe that powerfully literate learners will: – possess the skills to succeed socially and academically; – feel included and valued; – see links between their home and school lives• This will help them in both short and long term with both educational and social well being outcomes
• So….from a political or ideological perspective which seeks to develop the opportunities of all students—local and global—to develop powerful literacies I believe there are some immediate moves we can make in our school to help achieve these goals.
Some reminders• We are all very familiar with the demographics of our school but for the benefits of the pre-service teachers who are with us let’s recap on a few things.• First. Our school is awesome
• We have a strong commitment to our school matter—everyone is learning— and an equally strong commitment to fostering positive home/school partnerships.
Ummm• This raises the key question: can we make a difference?
Ummm• Our own ongoing analysis of student progress suggests that students in all year levels are below national averages in key literacy areas of: – Reading – Persuasive writing – Spelling – And, to some extent, grammar and punctuation
Can we???Despite some of the dominant discourses about diverselearners that circulate in Australian society (discoursesthat tend to represent disadvantage as biologically andsocially determined and linke to a lack of ability or willrather than circumstances and opportunities) decades ofresearch tells us that students like ours are: – Capable of learning – Learn best when they feel safe, included and valued – Learn best when there are positive links between home and school
Can we???• An international review of best practice in teaching diverse learners (Alton-Lee, 2003) identified ten key features of quality teaching in this area. Three of these principles—and their pedagogical implications—are particularly relevant to the proposal that follows. – 1. Quality teaching is focused on student achievement (including social outcomes) and facilities – 2. Pedgogical practices enable classes and other learning groupings to work as caring, inclusive, and cohesive learning communities. – 3. Effective links are created between school and other cultural contexts in which students are socialised, to facilitate learning (Alton-Lee, 2003 n.p.)
Can we???• So the question isn’t “can we make a difference” the question is “how will we make a difference”.
My year 4 world• I have a classroom of year 4 students, who reflect the school’s level of diversity. Of our 24 students 30% have English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D). 12 of the students are boys (again a group routinely recognized as at risk of disengaging in the middle years of school) and 3 other girls who are from middle class families have been performing below national averages on all key literacy indicators.
• My goal is to help all of my students feel (and be) powerfully literate.
• Like all other year levels the English curriculum for year 4 has three strands: – Language: knowing about the English language – Literature understanding, appreciating, responding to, analyzing and creating literature – Literacy: expanding the repertoire of English usage.
A necessary focus• Having analysed the results of NAPLAN tests and my own running records I propose to focus on the following sub-strands and reading needs – Understanding the influences of social context on social interactions – Understand the differences between reports and opinions – Understand how texts vary in complexity depending on context, purpose and audience
• A related by secondary focus is: – Further developing an understanding of Standard Australian English
A different model… • The way I will approach these reading needs is influenced by the Model of Reading I will adopt: the four resources model.
Four resources• I believe that we can meet our powerfully literate goals by continuing our existing commitment to a socio- cultural approach to literacy generally and to the four resources model more specifically.
• Sociocultural approaches to literacy recognize the fundamentally social nature of all literacy practices (Alexander & Fox, 2004; Bull & Anstey, 2005; Hirst, 2002). By extension, reading is seen as always located within a broader social context within which reading is an active process with purpose: and that purpose can vary from one context to another. In other words, reading withinthis framework isn’t just about making meaning out of text, or decoding particular combinations of letters and symbols. Reading is about making sense of the way meanings exist within particular cultural and historical environments.
• From this perspective a teachers’ focus moves from “drill and skill” and rote learning, towards the creation of opportunities for students to engage in reading that they find to be meaningful and motivating.. As well as that, emphasis is placed upon the benefits of allowing students to make connections between their ‘school’ worlds and their other worlds: worlds that are too often kept apart in traditional schooling structures.
• This kind of framework also allows us to recognize and value the diverse forms of textual and social practice associated with the 21st century. Rather than perpetuating a hierarchy between ‘authentic’ or ‘high culture’ texts or a canon, critical literacy, socio cultural approaches and the New Literacy Studies all embrace the value, legitimacy and educational importance of diverse literacy practices. No text is to big, too small, too casual, too trivial to warrant analysis (Honan, 2004; House, 2012; Sommer, 2007).
The Point?• Within this broad socio-cultural framework, I believe there is much to be gained from continuing our school’s commitment to the Four Resources approach to literacy developed by Luke and Freebody (1999). In this framework an effective literacy education is one that allows learners to develop skills to:
I can…– break the code of texts – (be a code breaker):– participate in the meanings of text - (be a meaning maker)– use texts functionally - (be a text user)– critically analyse and transform texts – (be a text analyst) • (Luke & Freebody, 1999).
• It is important to note that within the four resources model powerfully literate students are those who are able to enact ALL of these different roles. They understand what a text is communicating; what it means to them; how they can use or create texts for various purposes and the consequences of the texts for various individuals.
Let’s recapOkay so far I’ve spoken about• Our school (and our rich diversity)• My beliefs that all our students can be powerfully literature• The importance of global and local perspectives• The specific reading needs I’d like to focus on with my year 4 students• The links between these needs and the year 4 national curriculum• The ways in which the four resources approach to reading emphasizes literacy work that goes beyond decontextualized skill acquisition into activities that recognize the situated nature of literacy.• I will now go on to look at the specific strategies I intend to use into the future.
What we have already done• Last year we introduced the idea that our classes are learning communities where everyone can be an expert learner, and an expert teacher. As Alton-Lee notes: The term “describes the kind of classroom where the peer culture has been developed by the teacher to support the learning of each member of the community” (2003)• I propose that we increase this work with a classroom focus on “The Expert In Me”
ME ME ME ME• The goal of this focu sis to explore with students: – diverse textual forms which ‘experts’ use to communicate; – the multiple contexts within which experts are valued; – the different text types used by ‘experts’ – the different language patterns that experts use to connect to different audiences
US US US US• There are two pedagogical strategies that I will prioritise: each one of which is justified both by research into best practice for teaching diverse learners (Alton-Lee, 2003); and research into the implementation of the four resources model in ways that meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students (Groundwater-Smith, 2006)
Strategy 1: Connecting Students To Learning Through Explicit Teaching• According to Edwards- Groves:“Opportunities for learning are enhanced when classroom talk is clearly focused on learning about aspects of literacy and directly responds to the learning needs of the students” (Edwards-Groves, 2002, n.p.).
Which is handy because…• This is consistent with the advice contained in Alton-Lee’s Best Evidence synthesis which emphasised the fact that “Tasks and classroom interactions provide scaffolds to facilitate student learning (the teacher provides whatever assistance diverse students need to enable them to engage in learning activities productively, for example, teacher use of prompts, questions, and appropriate resources” (Alton-Lee, 2003)
Strategy 1: Explicit Teaching• To this end: I will therefore ensure that students are clear about the gaols we are working towards and the steps we will go through purpose of our lessons. The published and shared aims are:
Another one…Our class will• Work to To Show Off Our Expertise – First steps: What is an expert? What makes an expert? How do you become an expert? – How do experts communicate? Where do experts communicate? How many different expert text types can we find? )eg youttube, encyclopedias; cookbook, manuals) – What would you like to be an expert about? What do you already know? – What do you need to know to get your ‘expert’ banner? – How can experts communicate – What is a blog?
In this process• Students will be encouraged to research blogs, (including those linked to from the National Year of Reading website: http://yablogosphere.blogspot.com.au/ to identify the key features of blogs and to help recognize features in structure, language, tenor, tone, layout, vocabulary, formality/informality
Collaboratively we will identify• Features of a blog• So we can move on to: – Designing a blog – Writing a blog – Writing our own blog AS EXPERTS
Strategy 2: Students as Expert Bloggers• Dowdall makes the point that young people are increasingly involved in the production of digital texts that are “highly purposeful, powerful and of consequence to the creator”(Dowdall, 2009, p. 65). Within the four resources reading model introduced above, online, digital or multi-model texts are examples of the way literacy can be understood as social practice. This point is well explored in Davies and Merchant’s discussions of the educational possibilities of blogging (Davies & Merchant, 2009).
Strategy 2: Students a sExpert Bloggers• Davies and Merchant explore the ways in which teachers ae able to work with blogs (which are, as they note, easy to create within existing templates) and the ways in which “blogs can be used to engage learners in textmaking, both as a way of beginning to understand what it means to participate in social network, and as a way of involving young people in publishing for wider audiences and for a range of purposes.
Specifically• We will work with the popular software “Blogger”. As was the case in the vignette based upon Miss Gupta’s class explored by Davies and Merchant (2009, p. 89) students will be encouraged to use their blogs as a “repository of hyperlinked information” and to allow them to be viewed by parents and friends.
Teachers as learners• I will work on two blogs: – One will be a whole of class blog called “awesome things for year 4s to read) which everyone can make submissions – This will directly connect to the Australian year for Reading
Teacher as expert blogger• My second blog will be on Sustainability. This will link to the United Nations identification of 2012 as the Year of Sustainable Energy for All.• I will focus on publishing facts about energy consumption and sustainable energy; opinions about how we can make a difference; links to experts in the area and a list of practical strategies that we can do in our own school.
Full circle• This linking of sustainability with reading allows us to return to the Girl Effect and recognise that the support we give to other countries to develop sustainable energy impacts upon their ability to access health care and education and thus to pursue positive futures….
Cross curriculum• Learning about literacy takes place across the entire curriculum. There will be many opportunities for the activities that form our reading priorities to inform and be informed by the work we do in other curriculum areas.• For example: through my own blog on sustainability I will be able to refer to science curriculum
Cross curriculum• Science Understanding• Biological Sciences –Living things have life cycles (ACSSU072) –Living things, including plants and animals, depend oneach other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073
Cross curriculum• Chemical Sciences – Natural and processed materials have a range of physical – properties; These properties can influence their use – (ACSSU074) –• Sciences as a Human Endeavour: – Use and influence of sicence – Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect – of their actions (ACSHE062•
Back to reading• Students will be linked into the National Year of Reading webpages as they research what expert texts look like via book reviews and blogs written by young people.• The class as a whole will also keep a book reading record of all of the books that we read as we develop our blogs• We will also introduce the Read This! Competition and encourage students to produce a text that can be incorporated into their blog to promote their favourite book on their expert subject. It can be a fiction or non-ficiton book. Details are available here: http://www.love2read.org.au/nyr-programs.cfm
To sum up• The four resources approach to reading allows us to emphasise: – The contextual nature of reading – The importance of real world and ‘legitimate’ reading tasks – The potential for literacy activities to contibute to social, civic and political understanding – The possibility of change
A final thought• William Gibson wrote: – The future is here. It’s just unevenly distributed….• Our school’s emphasis on learning communities, powerful literacy and digital literacies gives us a chance to ensure that our future is no longer uneven…
Read more here• ACARA. (2012). The Australian curriculum: English. Sydney: ACARA.• Alexander, P. A., & Fox, E. (2004). A historical perspective on reading research and practice. In R. B. Ruddell & N. J. Unrau (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading (5th ed., pp. 33-68). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.• Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality teaching for diverse students in schooling: best evidence synthesis. Wellington: New Zealand Ministry of Education.• Bull, G., & Anstey, M. (2005). The literacy landscape. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education.• Davies, J., & Merchant, G. (2009). Negotiating the blogosphere: educational possibilities. In V. Carrington & M. Robinson (Eds.), Digital literacies: social learning and classroom practices (pp. 81-93). London: Sage & UKLA.• Dowdall, C. (2009). Masters and critics: children as produers of online digital texts. In V. Carrington & M. Robinson (Eds.), Digital literacies: social learning and classroom practices (pp. 43-62). London: Sage & UKLA.• Edwards-Groves, C. (2002). Connecting students to learning through explicit teaching. MyRead: strategies for teaching reading in the middle years Retrieved 12 May 2012, 2012, from http://www.myread.org/explicit.htm• Groundwater-Smith, S. (2006). Understanding learner diversity. In S. Groundwater- Smith, R. Ewing & R. LeCornu (Eds.), Teaching: challenges and dilemmas (pp. 51-74). South Melbourne: Thomson.
And here• Hirst, E. W. (2002). Engaging heterogeneity: Tertiary literacy in new times. Paper presented at the Australian Association of Research in Education: Problematic futures: Educational research in an era of ... uncertainty", AARE Conference, Brisbane 2-5th December 2002. http://aare.edu.au/02pap/hir02208.htm• Honan, E. (2004). Using the four resources as a map of possible practices. In A. H. Healy, Eileen (Ed.), Text Next: New resources for literacy learning. Newtown, NSW: Primary English Teachers Association.• House, U. Y. C. (2012). New literacies and classroom practice• Killen, R. (2003). Effective teaching strategies: lessons from research and practic (3rd ed.). Tuggerah, NSW: Social Science Press.• Luke, A., & Freebody, P. (1999). Further notes on the four resources model. Reading Online Retrieved 20 March, 2012, from http://www.readingonline.org/research/lukefreebody.html - freebodyluke• Noddings, N. (2003). Happiness and education. New York: Cambridge University Press.• Sawyer, W. (2007). The powerfully literate citizen. English in Australia, 42(2), 44-48.• Sommer, P. (2007). What do we mean by critical? Implications and opportunities. Curriculum Leadership, 5(21), np.