English in Australia

English in Australia V. 47 no. 1

April 2012


Editorial / Susanne Gannon - 2

Around the States - 3

Enacting Policy, Curriculum and Teacher Conceptualisations of Multimodal Literacy and English in Assessment and Accountability / Joy Cumming, Kay Kimber and Claire Wyatt-Smith - 9
Abstract: This article examines synergies and gaps in the construction of English, literacy, multimodality in policy and curriculum in Australian education with a focus on current assessment practices and educational accountability in order to make recommendations for future practice for teachers and for policy-makers. The article builds on analyses of the historical development of literacy, English and multimodality in Australian policy and curriculum published previously. In this article, we examine desirable constructions and activities for assessment of multimodal English in classrooms and research on student engagement in multimodal English tasks. The multimodality focus examined in this article is the use and role of technologies in English and assessment and the way new and emerging technologies can affect student learning processes and outcomes. The article concludes with recommendations for changes both for classroom assessment practice and also for future educational accountability practice, if the goals of the Melbourne Declaration of 2008 (MCEETYA, 2008) and the Australian English curriculum are to be attained.

'English' in the Australian Curriculum: English / Robert Dixon - 19
This is the text of a paper given at the 2011 Symposium of the Australian Academy of the Humanities on the theme, ‘Educating the Nation: The Humanities in the New Australian Curriculum’, the 42nd Annual Symposium of the Australian Academy of the Humanities at the University of Melbourne, 17 November 2011. It was presented in a session on ‘History, English, the Arts and the Australian Curriculum’ introduced by Professor Barry McGaw, Chair of ACARA. Professor Marilyn Lake spoke on History in the Australian Curriculum. The Council of the Academy wanted to ensure that the symposium would appeal to many audiences beyond the Fellowship of the Academy, and it was well attended by secondary school teachers in English and History.

Understanding about water in liquid modernity: Critical imperatives for English teaching / Ray Misson - 27
Abstract: We are at a particularly difficult historical juncture marked by uncertainty, contingency and change. Zygmunt Bauman characterises the present time as ‘liquid modernity’ (2000, 2008, 2011b) because of the fluidity and instability that we live with. Our identities and our relations to the world are changing radically. There is an urgent need for English teaching to reconsider what it is doing so as to support students in coping with current demands. It is argued that there are five critical elements that must be acknowledged in current English curriculum: critical analysis; imagination; affect; ethics; and belief. These are all related and should be integrated so that students are able to act purposefully in what William Connolly has characterised as ‘a world of becoming’ (2011). 

Remembering Rhetoric: Recalling a Tradition of Explicit Instruction in Writing / Brian Moon - 37
Abstract: Modern secondary courses in English differ from classical tradition in their tendency to avoid direct instruction in the content and style of writing. Such avoidance is partly a function of anxieties about the role of English in students’ personal development and a fear of limiting their self expression. Neither of the dominant writing pedagogies from the last 50 years wholly escapes this problem. A historical consideration of the issue suggests that fears surrounding explicit instruction arise from a range of misperceptions about writing and English. Modern writing pedagogy may therefore be improved by an acquaintance with traditions of explicit instruction, as found in classical training regimes. Such knowledge would furnish teachers with an additional array of instructional techniques.

'It's a Sort of ad hoc Roadshow': Disruptive Pedagogies and Digital Introductions / Julie Faulkner - 53
Abstract: This article explores disruption of habituated literacy practices through the creation of new possibilities in a digital space. Preservice English method teachers at a Melbourne university were invited to create a digital introduction and to reflect after the presentation on aspects of technology, representation and learning that were brought into focus in and through their presentations. The task pushed the preservice teachers out of familiar territory, often producing creative and stimulating texts. In the spirit of disrupting normative approaches, this writing attempts to play with the textual regularities of the journal article. To contextualise the digital introductions and evaluate their effectiveness in achieving pedagogical aims, I chose to construct the discussion as a dialogue with preservice teachers. Research findings, analysis and further questions layer and interpellate the discussion.

Poetry for the Broken-hearted: How a Marginal Year 12 English Class was Turned on to Writing / Terry Locke and Helen Kato - 61
Abstract: This paper draws on a case study undertaken by an English teacher in a rural school with a Year 12 English class, most of whom had been singularly unsuccessful in terms of NCEA achievement. The case study was undertaken as part of a two-year project, directed by the first author, entitled: ‘Teachers as writers: Transforming professional identity and classroom practice’. The teacher in this case study was a teacher participant in the first writing workshop conducted as part of this project who, as a result of the workshop, changed aspects of her practice with her Year 12 English class. This paper provides an overview of the intervention implemented by the classroom teacher, indicating the range of activities trialled and the sorts of reflection processes entered into (often collaboratively) as part of the action research recursive cycle. Drawing on a range of data, including pre- and post-intervention questionnaires, student evaluations, assessment data and reflective journal entries, this paper makes a case for the model of the teacher as writer, and attempts to identify aspects of classroom practice which turned a number of reluctant students on to poetry writing.

Competition, Games, Technology - Boys are Loving English / Peta Gresham with Linda Gibson-Langford - 81
Abstract: This paper reflects one cycle of an action research project that investigated how integrating activity, competition, and visual learning strategies through IWB/ Smart Response technology could engage a lower level Year 12 Advanced English class in NSW – a group of boys who felt disconnected from the course of study. After my initial reconnaissance gauging the boys’ enthusiasm and engagement in class lessons, a clear picture of disengagement from, and disconnection to, the coursework emerged. The accumulated hard copy resources of information and student activities were proving ineffective for teaching and learning with my class. It was noted that the students responded to video and audio content more readily. After analysing the reflections from the class about their level of interest thus far in the Preliminary HSC English unit on satire, it was decided to change the way in which the next unit of work would be delivered. The boys were beginning a unit of study on rhetoric and were to analyse speeches set by the New South Wales Board of Studies. Here was an opportunity to change the way course material was delivered. I chose a combination of social media and IWB/Smart Response technology. This provided the impetus for marked change in the boys’ behaviour, attitude, initiative and confidence and the overall achievement level was, indeed, raised. The next cycle of the project will be to flip some of the IWB content for students to prepare at home via movie files and introduce more activity-based lessons in the classroom.

Reading and Viewing / Deb McPherson - 91