Archive of ‘Australian Curriculum’ category

Differentiation and Explicit Teaching

This one looks great for providing clear explanation of explicit teaching and differentiation in the areas of Spelling, Reading, and Punctuation and Grammar. We have identified the need at our school for more focus on explicit teaching in terms of sentence structure, and differentiation is continually an important factor in meeting the wide ranging needs of individuals and cohorts within any class.

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Assessing Reading Comprehension – Fiction Texts

The attached rubric can be used as a guide to explicitly teach students to think deeper about their reading of fiction texts, moving from literal to inferential and evaluative levels of understanding. Through modelling and guiding students through the Here, Hidden and Head levels on the rubric with shared texts, students can begin to use the process in a more self directed style with independent texts.
It can be adapted for use with different year levels. For example my year 5 students are focusing on ‘characters’, ‘setting’ and ‘plot’, whereas the year 6 students have also been exploring ‘language’ and ‘themes/ messages’. As the year progresses we will look at other aspects.

The rubric can be used as an assessmentĀ of learning, and for learning. For example, after completing a recent reading assignment, students were provided with feedback and a copy of the rubric with their personal achievements highlighted. Students were then guided to set their goals for the term using the next step on the rubric as a guide. In this way students take more personal responsibility for their learning.

Graphic organisers, such as webs, Venn Diagrams, comparative charts etc, can be used to enable all students to successfully show depth of thinking.
Fiction Reading Comprehension Assessment – Lawlor 2013 v3

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Rubrics are Bull… Says George.

After reading Selena Woodward’s article about rubrics tonight I reflected on my thoughts and practice. I kind of agree with both George and Selena. Rubrics can be useful and guide instruction, helping to make learning visible to students and teachers, but they can be superficial and perhaps restrictive. It also reminded me of an article I had read last year.

In July last year after reading Fang and Wang’s article in the ALEA Journal, Vol 34, No 2, 2011 I wrote this reflective comment:

Beyond Rubrics: Using Functional Language Analysis to Evaluate Student Writing
Zhihui Fang & Zhijun Wang University of Florida and University of Finance and Economics, China
This article argues that rubrics are neither exact nor objective. Instead the authors introduce an assessment method that encourages the evaluation of content, organization and style.

This article strikes a chord with me. I agree that at times rubrics don’t seem to quite fit the bill. The LYMY assessment of MILO (mechanics, ideas, language and organisation) which I felt very confident and comfortable using seems similar to the content, organisation and style structure that this article suggests. This also fits well with the methodology suggested by Bev Deriwianka on the weekend. Exploring and teaching grammar in context and focusing on how meaning is presented through the deliberate use of language are important aspects to attend to.

Teaching students how to use simple, compound and complex sentences is only part of the job. Teaching them when to use these effectively for different purposes is an important aspect. Eg. explore the grammatical structure needed to write an information report: generic participants, clauses with linking verbs (eg., be, have), verbs in present tense, technical vocabulary, nominalisations, and expanded noun groups with embedded clauses and other modifiers.

I think I am slowly getting to the stage where I can confidently use a framework such as this to explore language use. However, I have reverted to using a rubric this year after exploring the Australian Curriculum and knowing that I am required to provide an A-E grade at the end of the year. This is the rubric I have created to go with the Traditional Stories unit of work we have been working on this term:

Term 4 Rubric

Frameworks to guide both instruction and learning are important. I would like to explore these more, including the SOLO taxonomy as a way of gaining insight into strength and needs of students, both for instruction and remediation.

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High Support High Challenge


Last Friday I attended the Literacy Leader’s Conference at EDC. One of the speakers was Jenny Hammond from the University of Technology, Sydney. I found her presentation interesting, inspiring and relevant to our school. She has written a research paper in the most recent ALEA Journal (Vol 35, No 2, 2012) Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, on the same topic.

Her presentation focused on findings from her research exploring language learning of EALD (English as and Additional Language or Dialect) students within the Science curriculum. Although she focused on Year 6 and 7 students you could see the relevance for all levels.

Her main message was to provide a High Challenge/ High Support environment.

The article in this month’s ALEA journal was referred, and I have just finished reading it.

Hope and Challenge in The Australian Curriculum: Implications for EAL Students and their teachers
Jennifer Hammond, University of Technology, Sydney

Some key points made:
* English area specifies the content in terms of language, but other curriculum areas don’t
* the ‘how’ isn’t specified in the Australian Curriculum (our department makes this pretty clear through the TfEL model though)
* curriculum hasn’t been watered down for EALD students, or those with learning disabilities, although differentiation expected
* demands of the new curriculum are high
* high levels of differentiated support expected for EALD students in particular to be successful
* thorough knowledge of the area needed by the teacher to be able to deliver
* EALD students need support to develop language in all curriculum areas not just English, so the specific and technical language of other curriculum areas needs to be explicitly taught, exposed through a wide variety of methods – oral, visual, encouraged conversations, reference material around the room written, pictorial, etc. (This is an aspect I would like to focus on.)
* importance of Vygotsky’s model of Zone of Proximal Development used to scaffold learning
* Language demands of various text types explored and made explicit, as well as the structure and function

Things to do:
* Plan carefully, having a clear picture of the language demands of the topic.
* Use scaffolding, building to independence
* Have a reference point in the classroom
* Criteria for success includes use of technical language

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PD – Pupil Free Day


  • People appreciated the opportunity to work together in like year level groups.
  • Constructive outcomes in terms of planning – literacy and numeracy
  • Data Management system well received and teachers entered their data ( a few hiccups that will need to be sorted out)
  • Generally positive outcomes fromĀ  programs and students learning
  • Consistent feedback about opportunities to work together – admin meeting every second week, year level, curriculum area, whole school focus rotated on a 3 week cycle.
  • More people wanting to share and combine resource data bank – ideas for units of work (related to particular texts, maths concepts etc.)
  • Blog resources


Areas to improve

I felt my presentation was a bombardment of information without clear direction for staff. Next time be focused and resource that area so that participants are set up to succeed. Don’t give too much scope.

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