Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) provides information for teachers, educators and others that can be found on their website. One interesting section is called ‘Hot Topics’. Two articles currently available are written in response to current educational debates or concerns in Australia.
‘Indigenous Australian Theme in the Australian Curriculum: English: Necessary or Not?’ by Beryl Exley and Lisa Kevin March 2014
The authors discuss the relevance of ‘Indigenous Australian’ theme in the Australian Curriculum with a particular focus on the area of English. This is in response to Education Minister, Christopher Pyne’s comments in January 2014 about a review of the Australian Curriculum and the necessity to have themes.
They outline how the theme ‘reconciliation’ can be taught through the sub strand ‘Language for Interaction’ where acknowledgement rather than participation in ‘otherness’ is the outcome. They provide a brief outline of a series of lessons that can be used to promote this by using a range of literary texts.
‘Lost for words: Why the best literary approaches are not reaching the classroom’ by Misty Adoniou December 2013
This article is written in response to the debate about the return to ‘phonics’ based teaching to solve our students poor literacy scores in NAPLAN and other tests. The author addresses this point by saying “…the 15 year olds who underperform on the PISA or NAPLAN know their sounds.” (page 2) She suggests that these students are performing poorly because they can’t comprehend the written text.
Reference is also made to the EAL/D students where English only is spoken and written at school. It is up to the school to teach English. As the number of non English speaking students entering our schools in Australia grows, schools are finding it difficult to ensure that these students get equal access to the learning that goes on at school.
Literacy standards of teachers are also raised – not to put down the work that the teachers do but to highlight the importance of teacher knowledge of EAL/D learners. Misty briefly discusses her workshop she delivers “10 things every teacher should know about the English language.”
The ‘phonics v whole’ debate is distracting schools from the real reason the students are struggling, she suggests. The value of rich literary texts and the importance for teachers to have a strong understanding of English grammar is necessary to promote meaningful teaching.