English in Australia

English in Australia V. 46 no. 3

December 2011




Editorial
/ Scott Bulfin and Kelli McGraw - 2

Around the States - 4

Tupaq, Katy Perry, and Schindler's List in the Secondary Classroom: Assessing English in New Times / Cheryl A McLean, Jennifer Rowsell and Diane Lapp - 9
Abstract: This article argues that theoretical understandings of multimodality have enormous potential for assessment purposes in secondary school contexts. Informed by the work of three researchers in three Nor th American high schools, the ar ticle offers vignettes of the effective assessment of communicative competence in English classrooms that draws on multimodality and design epistemologies. Building on the work of Bearne (2009) and others, the ar ticle contributes to the burgeoning literature on new approaches to assessment in a digital and multimodal age byoffering three different perspectives on new assessment frameworks with recommendations for a way forward. The ar ticle sets out to trouble the notion of assessing modes such as sound, space and visuals in a word-ruled discipline.

New Literacies: A Pedagogical Framework for Reading Virtual Worlds - A Journey into Barbiegirls.com / Jan Connelly - 21
Abstract: As the tectonic plates of technology shift across human networks, dedicated and determined educators understand that the integration of digital mediated texts and the new literacies competencies they engender, amount to little without pedagogical ingenuity, innovative adaptation, and creative application. This article is a response to the rapidly expanding digital engagement of youth and the young. New literacies proponents are looking at literacy practices and literacy events of the young and through their scholarship they call on schools and educational institutions to embrace the new media landscape and its participatory cultures for the learning potential they offer. Research out of the UK based London Knowledge Lab, tells us that whilst the young and youth are increasingly engaged in digital environments there are only ‘a few embryonic signs of criticality, self-management or metacognitive reflection’ (Luckin, Clark, Graber, Logan, Mee & Oliver, 2009).

More Than Chatting Online: Children, Marketing and Use of Digital Media / Ilana Snyder, Colin Jevons, Michael Henderson, Mark Gabbott and Denise Beale - 32
Abstract: While schools have taught media literacy for many years, new challenges are raised by the growth of digital media and the sophistication of marketing techniques aimed at children. In response to a moral panic over the dangers posed by new media, schools have focused on cyber-safety education to reduce the incidence of phenomena such as cyber-bullying. However, also requiring attention are new platforms such as smar t phones and tablets that enable marketing campaigns to target children with personalised messages even more cover tly than before. Thisar ticle examines how digital technologies and marketing are entwined in the everyday lives of children by drawing on the findings of an exploratory cross-disciplinary study of three grade 6 students in a primary school located in Melbourne’s south-east. The findings indicate that educational understandings of how marketers collect and use data through digital channels for commercial purposes are limited. Fur ther research is needed to examine the impact on children of digital marketing in social media spaces where digital profiling, data mining and peer-to-peer endorsements of products are rife. Such research will inform English teachers’ work aimed at building children’s critical marketing literacy.

Historic Australian Conceputalisations of English, Literacy and Multimodality in Policy and Curriculum and Conflicts with Educational Accountability / Joy Cumming, Kay Kimber and Claire Wyatt-Smith - 42
Abstract: Attainment of functional English literacy skills by all students has been a focus of Australian national policy since the 1989 Hobar t Declaration (MCEETYA, 1989). This focus underpins current educational accountability policy enacted through the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). The Adelaide and Melbourne Declarations (MCEETYA, 1999, 2008) maintained focus on English literacy skills but also identified ICT skills as essential for students for 21st century, suggesting teachers should make use of contemporary learning resources to engage students. Literacy, multimodality and ICT have been inter twined in various definitions of literacy and English in Australian policy and curriculum for some time. This ar ticle examines historical and current constructions of English, literacy, multimodality and ICT in policy and curriculum over the last two decades and in current educational accountability practices through NAPLAN. Research on Queensland teacher identification of English literacy skills is repor ted to show how national educational accountability that fails to reflect policy and curriculum focuses on multimodality may serve to narrow classroom English literacy.

The Kaleidoscope of Visual Poetry: New Approaches to Visual Literacy / Tamryn Bennett - 55
Abstract: What are the possibilities for poetry? This paper introduces approaches to creatingand teaching poetry through a critical survey of contemporary practitioners within the field. Analysis of ekphrastic traditions, comics and concrete poetry, ar tists books, graffiti poems, film, performance and interdisciplinary collaborations reveal new oppor tunities for poetic experimentation that helpto meet the aims of the Australian Curriculum. This theoretical examination is exampled with visual poetry by Shin Yu Pai, Cecilia Vicuña, Ebon Heath, Tom Phillips and Australian practitioners such as Elena Knox, Chris Edwards and Michael Farrell. Also explored are experiments in poetry comics by Dino Buzzati, Kenneth Koch, Bianca Stone, Warren Craghead, Matt Madden and Sean Michael Wilson as well as examples of multimodal texts within The Red Room Company’s projects. Exposure tothis kaleidoscope of visual poetry encourages exploration of poetic possibilities, both creatively and critically, for teachers and students.

Teachers as Learners: What makes technology-focused professional development effective? / Jen Scott Curwood - 68
Abstract: Prompted by calls for research on technology-focused professional development, this article investigates how learning communities influence secondary English teachers’ use of digital tools. Findings from this year-long study in the United States indicate that the ways in which technology is integrated within the English curriculum are still very much dependent upon teachers’ beliefs, values, and skills. This has par ticular implications in Australia, where the federal government is investing billions in educational technology in schools in line with broader education reforms, including the Australian Curriculum. This study suggests that technology integration can be suppor ted by professional development that features: sustained dialogue around teachers’ curricular goals and students’ learning outcomes; hands-on learning with digital tools; the ongoing analysis of student work; and a view of knowledge as a social construction.

Reconceptualising Understandings of Texts, Readers and Contexts: One English Teacher's Response to Using Multimodal Texts and Interactive Whiteboards / Lisbeth Kitson - 76
Abstract: The comprehension of multimodal texts is now a key concern with the release of the Australian National Curriculum for English (ACARA, 2010). However, the nature of multimodal texts, the diversity of readers in classrooms, and the complex technological environments through which multimodal texts are mediated, requires English teachers to reconsider how they may use multimodal texts to suppor t reading comprehension. This paper presents a micro-analysis of one classroom event, where a Year Four teacher and her students read three texts from a Learning Object. The text was selected by the teacher for the purpose of exploring one key understanding of multiliterate practice; how texts have different meanings for different people. Field notes, transcripts from the video observation, and teacher reflection after the classroom event are analysed. The implications of teacher practice, as well as the consideration of multimodal resources as cultural ar tefacts that afford and constrain oppor tunities for student learning are discussed.

How to Maximise Student Learning After Assessment Whilst Minimising the Pain of Correction (In Search of the Holy Grail) / Natalie Faulkner - 87
Intro:  I’ll  be frank  with  you.  Tempting  though it may  be to frame  this  narrative  through  a  flattering,  soft-focus lens where I appear  the selfless, devoted teacher striving only to improve  my  practice  – the  reality  is, I’m like  ever y  other  English  teacher:  adrift  in  a  sea  of correction.  After  only  a  year  of teaching,  marking essays was my most loathed chore.  Getting  through a class set required  steely determination, a clean  house (no  opportunity for procrastination), lamentable TV scheduling and a box of chocolate-based  rewards. And at the end of this marathon? Weight gain, and  a class of students who  before my very eyes skip straight to  criteria  sheet  for their  mark. nary a glance at the comments scrawled in the margins and,  judging  from repeated  homonym  confusion, even  less  interest  in the circled misspellings.

Pride and Prejudice and Facebook: Social Media in a Year 9 English Classroom / Madeleine Coulombe - 89
Intro: Elizabeth Bennet: is astonished …  Mr Darcy has proposed to me just like that. Rude human being.
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I teach  in an independent girls’ school  in the eastern suburbs  of Melbourne. For several years, our Year 9 program has included a unit on Jane Austen. originally it was developed to  improve  students’  research  and mind  mapping skills. students watched  various television and film adaptations of novels by Austen, learned about  the  author’s  life and times,  read  long  excerpts from her novels and acquired extensive new vocabular y.

Using modern social networking to teach: The danger of assumption / Julia Lloyd - 93
Extract: The most difficult thing was getting across the point  of the hashtag.  ‘I just don’t get why you would use it.’ ‘Where do the hashtags go?’‘Does it matter how you spell them?’ Fair  enough too  really,  it’s  a  difficult  concept  to grasp for a tech-savvy adult, let alone a group of Year 8 boys who don’t use twitter. ‘Trending topics ’ey? Who decides what’s going to be talked about?’ ‘Do you have to be famous or can you talk about anything?’‘I only like talking about the footy.’ As an English teacher, regardless of what I am teaching,  I always  want  the  boys  to  consider  the  impact that  language  has  and  all  the  wonderful opportunities something like Twitter poses for playing  with and exploring  language.  

Lit-Borg: Shakespeare meets Edmodo / Leith Daniel - 96
Exract: This year I was afforded a new opportunity. In a moment of what  was surely  either  an  administration error  or  a moment of drunken insanity,  I was given a Literature class.1  Literature  is the  badge  of  honour for  a  Western  Australian  English  teacher.  It  has  an elite reputation that  ensures  only  academic  and  hard- working students enrol in it and it affords teachers (and students!) an opportunity to explore their advanced knowledge   of  texts.  There  is also  a strict  text  list  to select from,  a feature that doesn’t appear  in any other Western Australian English course. The fact that I, a renowned geek, was given a course that  appears  to be the  antithesis of what I’d normally taught  and  read, was just an odd place to begin.

Creativity in my pocket: No 'i' puns here / Bruce Derby - 98
Intro: In thinking up a title for this paper,  there is the awful temptation to succumb  to the ‘I’ pun. Perhaps, this was edg y five years ago, but  the  ubiquity of Mr Jobs’  toys renders such  wordplays  as just  plain  silly. When  PM Rudd announced his ‘Digital Education Revolution’, schools  that  had hitherto been circumspect  about  the educational benefits of 1:1 technolog y quickly changed their  mind  when  the  available  funding  proved  too much  to ignore.  But amidst  the focus on the laptop  as the primar y technology of choice to drive this particu- lar  education  revolution, a  smaller  shift  in  thinking is  necessitated  by  the  emergence  of  ‘mobile  learn- ing’, or ‘handheld learning’ as it is sometimes called (Handheld Learning, n.d.; Tribal Education, 2009).

Reading and Viewing / Deb McPherson - 101

About the Authors - 112

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