The Australian Curriculum: English (AC:E) combines traditional Latin-based grammar with Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) theory. The syllabus-supporting material refers to traditional grammar as ‘standard grammatical terminology’, and to SFL as its ‘contextual framework’. Functional grammar is introduced across all three English strands Language, Literature and Literacy starting in the Foundation year. However, the curriculum language and terminology does not always make this explicit (Exley, 2016). This is because a conscious attempt was made to write content descriptors that ‘describe the knowledge, understanding, skills and processes that teachers are expected to teach and students are expected to learn’ in a metalanguage readily accessible to all teachers.
This post assesses the relevance of the functional model of language (SFL) across all 237 AC:E content descriptors for primary schools (Foundation to Year 6). The analysis is based on AC:E (v8.1) content descriptors and elaborations that are thematically grouped by year level, English strand and sub-strand by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). The ‘English: Sequence of content‘ document is annotated using three levels of SFL relevance:
Here are some examples for how SFL terminology has been translated in the Australian Curriculum (Derewianka, 2012; Exley, 2016):
The Register of language is described in the following words:
Field – ‘topics at hand’
Tenor – ‘relationships between the language users’
Mode – ‘modalities or channels of communication’
Metafunctions of language are specifically addressed in the following Language sub-strands:
“Expressing and developing ideas“ unpacks the functions of language, i.e. ideational, interpersonal and textual
“Text structure and organisation“ unpacks the thematic structures of text, i.e. how to create coherent and cohesive texts
“Language for interaction“ unpacks the ‘Mood system’ and ‘System of Appraisal’ of language (Martin & White, 2005), language functions that establish and maintain relationships, including expressing graduations in feelings, emotions, opinions and judgements (Tenor).
The examples for AC:E language relating to the ‘System of Appraisal’ analysing Attitude, Graduation and Engagement (Martin & White, 2005) are compiled by Beryl Exley (2016):
‘appreciating … the qualities of people’ (ACELA1462) – i.e. expressing ‘judgement’
‘evaluations of characters’ (ACELA1477) – i.e. expressing ‘judgement’
‘judgement about … events’ (ACELA1484) – i.e. expressing ‘appreciation’
‘exploring examples of language which demonstrate a range of … positions’ (ACELA1484)- i.e. expressing ‘appreciation’
‘feelings’ (ACELA1484, ACELA1518) – i.e. expressing ‘affect’
‘engages us emotionally’ (ACELT1606) – i.e. expressing ‘affect’ and ‘engagement’
‘empathy’ (ACELT1610, ACELY1698, ACELA1518) – i.e. expressing ‘affect’ and ‘engagement’
‘identifying the narrative voice’ (ACELT1610, ACELY1698) – i.e. expressing ‘focus’ and ‘engagement’
‘point/s of view’ and ‘viewpoints of others’ (ACELT1603, ACELT1609, ACELY1698, ACELA1518) – i.e. expressing ‘appreciation’
‘concern for their welfare’ (ACELA1518) – i.e. expressing ‘affect’
‘make connections between students’ own experiences and those of characters and events represented in texts’ (ACELT1613) – i.e. expressing ‘engagement’
‘attitudes we may develop towards characters’ (ACELT1613) – i.e. expressing ‘judgement’ and ‘engagement’
‘build emotional connection’ (ACELT1617) – i.e. expressing ‘affect’ and ‘engagement’
Statistical analysis of the 237 annotated AC:E primary school content descriptors (CD) highlights some interesting facts. Teaching and learning opportunities related to the functional model of language increase from Foundation (12 or 33% of all CD) to Year 6 (21 or 67% of all CD). Only half of all AC:E CD in the Foundation year have no links to SFL. This number is gradually reduced to just 13% in Year 6! A more detailed analysis of CD by English strand and sub-strands highlights that SFL teaching and learning is very applicable across all three strands: Language (47%), Literature (62%), and Literacy (44%). However, due to the large number of Language CD (49%), nearly half of all very applicable CD (47%) fall into the Language Strand.
Systematic functional linguistics relevance to Australian Curriculum (v8.1): English content descriptors
Systematic functional linguistics relevance to Australian Curriculum (v8.1): English content descriptors by English strand
Systematic functional linguistics relevance to Australian Curriculum (v8.1): English content descriptors by Sub-strands
The results suggest that SFL, in particular transitivity, system of appraisal, and genre writing approaches, plays a significant role in the teaching and learning of English at Australian primary schools. The functional model of language is particular important in the AC:E Language strand, most prominently in the sub-strands “Expressing and developing ideas“, “Text structure and organisation“, and “Language for interaction“. Beverly Derewianka (2012) explains that the new Language strand, designed to teach and learn specific knowledge about the English language, requires a robust, future-oriented, unifying model of language that can meaningfully link grammatical form with function from the level of discourse (genre) to individual phonemes. This is achieved through the introduction of SFL, as this functional model adequately describes how language is used in social contexts.
Derewianka, B. (2012). Knowledge about language in the Australian curriculum: English. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 35(2), 127-146.
Exley, B. (2016). Secret squirrel stuff in the Australian curriculum English: The genesis of the ‘new’ grammar. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 39(1), 74.
Martin, J.R. & White, P.R.R. (2005). The language of evaluation: Appraisal in English. London: Palgrave.
Very relevant AC:E content descriptors by year level:
Question-Answer Relationships (QAR) is an explicit reading comprehension instruction model for teaching students about reciprocal question-answer relationships. Most recently popularised by Sheena Cameron in her book Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies (Cameron, 2009), the QAR model is based on a reading strategy developed by Taffy E. Raphael at the University of Illinois in the early 1980s (Raphael, 1982). The idea of QARs is to engage students in thinking about and discussing what they read, progressing from literal text evidence to text synthesis and inference.
In the original concept, students were taught three types of questions that can be asked about texts and ways to find answers. The students need to locate the response information, which shifts with the type of question from a particular sentence, to multiple passages across a text, to drawing on prior experiences and background knowledge about similar or related texts and genres.
Original QAR model by Taffy E. Raphael (1982, p. 188)
Taffy Raphael called the three type of QAR questions:
Right There: Right There questions are answered by pointing to a literal reference. Students are required to “… find the words used to create the question and look at the other words in that sentence to find the answer” (1982, p.187). The students learn how to find information by looking for key words. I call these questions On the Line questions, because the answers generally require pointing to one line in the text.
Think & Search: Think & Search questions are answered by synthesising different passages of a text. Students are required to integrate literal information “… , so students must skim across text segments to find the question and response information” (1982, p.187). The students learn how to find and integrate information based on their prior knowledge about text structures and by applying reading strategies such as skim reading. I call these questions Across the Lines questions, because answers generally require pointing at multiple paragraphs (or lines) in the text.
On My Own: On My Own questions demand thinking beyond the text and “… require the student to determine what background knowledge can be applied to the question” (1982, p.187). The students learn to think beyond the provided textual information, to question texts and to develop critical literacy skills. I call these questions Beyond the Lines questions, because they can be answered without referring to the text at all.
Taffy Raphael subsequently expanded her original model to include Author & You questions (Raphael, 1986): Author & You questions require inference from the students, who learn that some answers “... must come from the readers’ own knowledge base, but only in connection with information presented by the author” (1986, 519). Students learn how two very different resources of information, those that must e acquired from the text and those that are based on their prior knowledge and understanding, must be considered to answer some questions. These questions support reading strategies such as inference. I call these questions Between the Lines questions, because answers require to “read between the lines” by integrating the author’s text and the readers’ existing knowledge.
The revised QAR taxonomy is divided into two major categories: In the Book with the answer resources Right There and Think & Search, and In My Head with the answer resources Author & Me and On My Own (Raphael, 1986).
Updated conceptual QAR model now including four types of question-answer relationships (Raphael, 1986, p.517)
The QAR model provides a practical literacy resource to develop three comprehension strategies: (1) locating information; (2) determining how text structures convey information and can be synthesised; and (3) determining when inferences are required or invited. Students learn that depending on the type of question, answers may involve both literal and referential comprehension, references to the text as well as their interpretations that rely on their personal knowledge bases.
It is instructive to align the QAR model with the Four Roles of a Reader model, originally developed by Peter Freebody and Allan Luke (1990). This model emphasises the four interrelated essential roles of a reader: (1) decoding text as a ‘code-breaker’; (2) developing semantic meaning as a ‘text-participant’; (3) developing functional meaning as a ‘text-user’; and (4) critically analysing text as a ‘text analyst’.
Right There questions operate at the level of key words and Code Breaking. Think & Search questions require text comprehension strategies that build on knowledge about language and genre conventions required to MakeMeaning. The Author & You questions asks readers to respond and connect to the texts, to bring in their prior knowledge and “communicate” with the text as Text Users. Finally, On My Own questions demand critical engagement from readers in the form of Text Analysis. Readers are asked to draw on other texts or use the text as a stepping stone into inquiries that go well beyond the read text.
Early QAR Resource packages, such as that developed by the Irish National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) are using four quadrants that are very similar to the Four Roles of a Reader model.
Since, a plethora of teaching resources based on the QAR model have been developed, including such some useful tools that include example questions such as QAR bookmarks by Sheena Cameron (2009). Deb Lawrence from Queensland wrote a useful four-step instructional guide detailing ideas on how to introduce QAR in the classroom (Lawrence, 2015), including:
Introducing the question types
Teaching about clues for identifying the question types
Modelling how to think aloud
Teaching about text organisations
The last step is about unpacking literature genre convention and nicely links with a number of functional grammar-related content descriptors (see below).
Photo copy of QAR bookmark as part of the comprehensive digital resources developed by Sheenan Cameron (2009).
Cameron, S. (2009). Teaching reading comprehension strategies. North Shore: Pearson.
Freebody, P., & Luke, A. (1990). Literacies programs: Debates and demands in cultural context. Prospect: Australian Journal of TESOL, 5(7), 7-16.
Lawrence, D. (2015). Why use Question-Answer Relationships (QAR) as a comprehension strategy?. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 23(1), i-vii.
Raphael, T. E. (1982). Question-answering strategies for children. The Reading Teacher, 36(2), 186-190.
Raphael, T. E. (1986). Teaching question answer relationships, revisited. The Reading Teacher, 39(6), 516-522.
Relevance to Australian Curriculum content descriptors:
Foundation: Use comprehension strategies to understand and discuss texts listened to, viewed or read independently (ACELY1650)
Year 1: Understand that the purposes texts serve shape their structure in predictable ways (ACELA1447)
Year 1: Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning about key events, ideas and information in texts that they listen to, view and read by drawing on growing knowledge of context, text structures and language features (ACELY1660)
Year 2: Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning and begin to analyse texts by drawing on growing knowledge of context, language and visual features and print and multimodal text structures (ACELY1670)
Year 3: Identify the point of view in a text and suggest alternative points of view (ACELY1675)
Year 3: Understand that paragraphs are a key organisational feature of written texts (ACELA1479)
Year 3: Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning and begin to evaluate texts by drawing on a growing knowledge of context, text structures and language features (ACELY1680)
Year 4: Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning to expand content knowledge, integrating and linking ideas and analysing and evaluating texts (ACELY1692)
Year 5: Understand how to move beyond making bare assertions and take account of differing perspectives and points of view (ACELA1502)
Year 5: Investigate how the organisation of texts into chapters, headings, subheadings, home pages and sub pages for online texts and according to chronology or topic can be used to predict content and assist navigation (ACELA1797)
Year 5: Understand how texts vary in purpose, structure and topic as well as the degree of formality (ACELA1504)
Year 5: Recognise that ideas in literary texts can be conveyed from different viewpoints, which can lead to different kinds of interpretations and responses (ACELT1610)
In 2008, the Australian Education Ministers declared a principal educational goal for young Australians is to be successful learners by developing “. . . the essential skills in literacy and numeracy and [becoming] creative and productive users of technology, [. . .], as a foundation for success in all learning areas” (Barr et al., 2008, p. 8). Consequently, the national English syllabus (AC:E) designed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) defines literacy as “. . . the ability to read, view, listen to, speak, write and create texts for learning and communicating in and out of school”(ACARA, 2017a). These six receptive and productive language macroskills (Barrot, 2016) are emphasised across all key learning areas (KLA) with the general capability ‘Literacy’ as interrelated elements essential for comprehending and composing texts (ACARA, 2017b). The AC:E further draws attention to the social and multimodal nature of language learning (ACARA, 2017a). Consequently, the demands on twenty-first century literacy teaching and learning resources are different to those developed for the twentieth century industrial model of schooling (e.g. Seely Flint, Kitson, Lowe, & Shaw, 2014). Here, the educational app ‘Book Creator for iPad’ (Red Jumper Ltd., 2017a) is critically reviewed in context of the AC:E from multiple perspectives, including literacy development theories, language macroskills, the six guiding principles for teaching reading and writing in the twenty-first century (Seely Flint et al., 2014), and the four-resources model of reading (Luke & Freebody, 1997) as applied to multimodal texts (Serafini, 2012) and creative writing (Heffernan, Lewison, & Henkin, 2003). The author concludes that Book Creator for iPad is versatile and age-appropriate literacy resource that can be employed to teach and learn critical and multiliteracies in Australian primary schools, across KLAs including English.
Book Creator educational app
Book Creator is a best-selling educational software running on Windows, iOS and Android platforms, with a browser extension in development (Kemp, 2017). It was launched in 2011, with the current release version 5.0.2 available on the iTunes app store for iOS 9 and above. The iOS app is priced at AU$ 7.99 per licence, with a 50% discount offered for schools through the Apple’s Volume Purchase Programme (Red Jumper Ltd., 2017a).
Book Creator supported media formats
The Book Creator app is designed for school-aged children to create and publish multimodal ebooks. The core functionality includes widgets that allow adding text, images, drawings, shapes, audio and video to virtual book pages. Individual pages and final ebooks can be read out aloud, supporting twenty-seven languages, including thirteen English speaking voices and four Australia dialects. In reading mode, spoken words can optionally be highlighted and the speech rate adjusted. Book Creator supports publishing ebooks in multiple formats, including ePub, PDF and as as a video file with spoken text. Ebooks can be saved locally, or in the cloud (e.g iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive) to support access-controlled sharing of student work with parents and school community. Alternatively, ebooks can be locally shared in the classroom using the AirDrop iPad functionality. As a result, Book Creator supports distributed content creation, where multiple students can work collaboratively on individual chapters that can be combined at a later stage (Hallett, 2013).
Critical evaluation and discussion
Most educational literacy software is designed with a narrow focus on developing and practicing particular skills such as phonemic awareness (e.g. Oz Phonics (DSP Learning Pty LTd., 2015)), sight words and spelling (e.g. Reading Eggs, (Blake eLearning, 2016)). In contrast, Book Creator is designed to be open-ended and to be used in creative ways across various KLAs to support the development of critical and productive multiliteracies. The developers of Book Creator value creativity, collaboration, cross-curricular integration, and “app-smashing”, i.e. the ability to seamlessly integrate other apps as part of the workflow (Red Jumper Ltd., 2017b). The company also prioritises dialogue with educators by offering free webinars and comprehensive customer support.
Book Creator excels as a top-down literacy development resource. The core intention of the app is to support students in creating ebooks. Multimodal ebooks are a whole-language product. Book Creator supports socially-situated learning through purposeful collaboration and dialogue, editing, and publishing. The app can be used in inquiry-based teaching and learning across all KLAs, for example in activities involving journaling and reflection. Perhaps the greatest value as a literacy resource is the ease-of-use with which all receptive and productive language macroskills (Barrot, 2016) can be meaningfully and seamlessly integrated into a single authentic product. Books are not just written but created, by seamlessly integrating text with images, audio and video recordings. The productive language skills are even expanded into the often neglected aspect of publishing for audiences (Jaakkola, 2015). The student experience between reading, listening (or being read to), and viewing the story as a movie is fluent. The app can be used to explore intertextuality, the links between different texts, personal experiences and outside knowledge. The students are invited to construct meaning by linking multimodal sources and developing the three schema-building connections: text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world (Fountas & Pinnell, 2006).
The app can also be employed for critical literacy development. For example, Book Creator can be used to construct comic books with social justice themes (Stone, 2017), perhaps making use of speech and thought bubbles to explore multiple perspectives.
Basic Book Creator shapes
With the ability to publish in ePub and video formats, Book Creator lends itself as a tool to express opinions and take social action. The four-resources model (Luke & Freebody, 1997) is perhaps the most widespread model based on critical literacy theory in Australian schools. Originally developed by Peter Freebody (1992), it emphasises the socio-cultural practices and four interrelated essential roles of the reader: (1) decoding text as a ‘code-breaker’; (2) making semantic meaning as a ‘text-participant’; (3) making functional meaning as a ‘text-user’; and finally (4) critically analysing the text. This model is aligned with the four language cueing systems (graphophonic, semantic, syntactic, pragmatic) of the whole-language approach (Seely Flint et al., 2014). Frank Serafini (2012) expanded the original print-based model to address multiliteracies. Accordingly, the literate reader-viewer of multimodal texts acts as a :(1) ‘navigator’; (2) ‘interpreter’; (3) ‘designer’, and; (4) ‘interrogator’. Book Creator is designed to develop all four interrelated skills, with a particular focus on productive language skills. Lee Heffernan and co-authors adapted the four-resources model of reading to a four-resources model of writing in a primary school context (Heffernan et al., 2003). This model is used to support students in better communicating ideas, improving text composition, drawing on background experiences to construct meaning, and becoming more explicit and reflective in the representations and positions argued in the text. The simplicity with which students can add their voices (i.e. record audio) and perspectives (i.e. record photos and videos) makes Book Creator a great tool to develop critical and creative writing that addresses all four resources.
Ultimately, Book Creator as literacy resource is not limited to any particular theory of literacy development. Some creative teachers have used the app to support bottom-up literacy development through activities such as multimodal vocabulary practice (e.g. Dodds, 2015).
Another approach towards evaluating Book Creator as literacy resource is to critically assess ways in which this app can be used to address the six guiding principles for teaching reading and writing in the twenty-first century (Seely Flint et al., 2014):
1)Literacy practices are socially and culturally constructed. Book Creator encourages social interaction by offering multiple ways of collaboration between students, teacher, parents and the school community (Hallett, 2013). Cultural and linguistic diversity in the classroom is supported by offering few limits in terms of languages and genre conventions. However, the default page flow from left to right does not support languages that use right-to-left scripts, such as Arabic or Urdu.
2)Literacy practices are purposeful. Writing and publishing books is a purposeful form of literacy practice, in particular if the task design is inclusive and responsive to the students’ lives, and encourages cross-disciplinary learning. The simplicity with which text can be integrated with photos, audio and video recordings provides numerous opportunities for students to express themselves, organise and document their learning through journaling, support design thinking and prototyping (Holland, 2017), even playing interactive learning games (Dodds, 2015). The app can be used to support and complementing reading activities, for example by creating audiobooks of class readers. The sharing and publishing functionality offers opportunities to create ebooks for both enjoyment and assessment.
3) Literacy practices contain ideologies and values. Book Creator supports a range of literacy practices in virtually limitless social and cultural contexts. On the iPad, the app is portable and can even be used outdoors in nature for many hours. Shapes, such as speech and thought bubbles superimposed on images, can be used to communicate perspectives (Baker, 2015) and allow individual book characters to speak and think for themselves, perhaps juxtaposed on facing pages.
4) Literacy practices are learned through inquiry. The starting point of a new Book Creator project is a blank canvas, which can be customised. All content needs to be developed, the ideal starting point for student inquiries. The app is explicitly designed to support students in the drafting, composing and publishing processes. At each stage, students can work individually or in groups, and share their work for discussions, assessment and reflection (Vasinda, Kander, & Redmond-Sanogo, 2015).
5) Literacy practices invite readers and writers to use their background knowledge and cultural understandings to make sense of texts. Book Creator supports multiple ability levels and prior experiences with texts through inbuilt scaffolding tools such as the read-aloud function. Options to adjust the speed and dialect of the voice, and the ability to highlight spoken words make this app a powerful tool for supporting students struggling with unfamiliar aspects and practices around literacy development, e.g. EAL/D students. Emerging writers will enjoy the ability to creatively express themselves through multiple media to complement their writing (Rowe & Miller, 2016).
6) Literacy practices expand to include everyday texts and multimodal texts. Book Creator supports any type of genre and register, and can complement literacy practices across multiple contexts and KLAs. Multimodal texts are the core function of the app, supporting written, visual, auditory and spatial modes in any possible combination.
While all this demonstrates that Book Creator can be applied to a wide range of literacy teaching and learning scenarios, one fundamental question remains: to what extent does the app transform literacy learning compared to traditional, non-technological alternatives such as scrapbooking? A practical framework to critically evaluate educational technology and software is the SAMR model by Ruben Puentedura (Romrell, Kidder, & Wood, 2014).
Accordingly, Book Creator is reviewed in terms of its ability to Substitute, Augment, Modify and Redefine literacy learning experiences compared to traditional scrapbooking. The answer to the question above depends on how the teacher and students are employing the app. Book Creator can be used to simply substitute paper-based story writing through activities that are limited to individual writing exercises, perhaps allowing students to include pre-selected images. However, once students make use of the camera and microphone on their iPads to include spoken words, photos and videos, Book Creator will augment scrapbooking by functionally improving the possibilities. In order to modify the traditional resource, the app will need to be used in unprecedented and novel ways. This is for example the case in the area of collaboration. Book Creator enables easy duplication and sharing of documents, instant contextual feedback through annotations, and process documentation for assessment (e.g. Sample, 2014). Finally, traditional scrapbooking is only truly redefined when the app is used in ways inconceivable without technology. Arguably, workflow integration between Book Creator, other apps and cloud services is the area that establishes Book Creator as a transformative literacy resource. Examples include the ability to import any student-generated content, such as stop-motion movies, student images in front of a customisable backgrounds, and the novel ways that content can be shared and published to reach new audiences (Sample, 2014).
Book Creator comes with a price tag. Although reasonable in comparison to other educational resources and technology, it will require a purchase plan that can limit its appeal for teachers that plan to use the app only for a single project. The software is also limited in terms of editing images, audio and video. Advanced editing functionality will require integration with other apps that often need to be downloaded. Other useful functionality, such as the ability to automatically save the history of drafts, and to protect shared documents with passwords requires integration with a cloud service. Finally, as with any educational software, there is a learning curve for teachers and students involved, especially for lower year levels. All this suggests that the appeal of Book Creator as a literacy resource will depend on the IT environment of the school, and the intention of the class teacher to use the app for multiple projects and across multiple KLAs.
Book Creator for iPad is a literacy resource with the potential to transform traditional writing activities. It designed to enable primary school children to create and share multimodal texts in the form of ebooks and videos. Book Creator can be compared to a digital scrapbook, or a white canvas that can be employed across a range of teaching and learning activities. While primarily useful in supporting top-down and critical literacy approaches, it can also make bottom-up skill development activities more engaging, and support emerging readers and EAL/D learners through scaffolding functionality like text-to-speech. Book Creator is a powerful resource to teach receptive and productive language macroskills. While supporting the creative integration of all forms of media, it remains rooted in the traditional format of a book, thereby emphasising the writing and reading modalities above all others. The app becomes a transformative resource if it is integrated into a broader app environment including cloud services. This aspect, as well as the initial purchase price and the learning curve involved for teachers and students to master the app, make Book Creator a more attractive literacy resource for the sustained use across multiple key learning areas, as opposed to a resources for a single teaching and learning activity.
The 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning is a pedagogy framework for embedding Australian Indigenous perspectives into the classroom by emphasising Indigenous learning techniques across all subjects. The framework was developed by the James Cook University School of Indigenous Studies, in collaboration with the Western New South Wales Regional Aboriginal Education Team and DET staff in 2007-2009. It postulates that Indigenous perspectives and knowledges in the classroom are not about introducing “indigenised content”, but rather by practicing a pedagogy informed by “Indigenous processes” of knowledge transmission and identity.
The 8 way learning model explained at the Australian Indigenous College
The 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning pedagogical framework highlighting the connections to axiology, ontology, epistemology and methodology.
The 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning therefore is quite a unique approach linking pedagogy with with:
axiology – Indigenous ways of valuing, in particular particular cultural protocols, systems and processes
ontology – Indigenous ways of being, in particular cultural protocols of behaviour
epistemology -Indigenous ways of knowing, in particular cultural protocols such as initiation
methodology – Indigenous ways of doing, such knowledge transmission through storytelling
What makes the 8 Ways pedagogical framework so compelling in the Australian main school context is that it is informed by a large overlap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous learning processes. There is much common ground in the value to all students of teachers including:
Great teachers are storytellers that can also teach through narratives and songs. Sharing stories is also an important tool to connect with each other.
The visualisation of pathways of knowledge is also called concept mapping. According to the latest Hattie Effect Size update, there is good evidence that the development of learning maps is among the most effective teaching practice.
Six out of the seven learning styles are non-verbal and include the kinesthetic and interpersonal approaches. In the words of the 8 Ways pedagogical framework, “we see, think, act, make and share without words“.
Symbols and images:
symbols and images
Providing visual cues, including symbols and colour-codes in learning routines can significantly help students with hearing impairment and social communication difficulties such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. This point addresses that learning is often visual and supported by objects, images, symbols, signs, art and metaphors to explain concepts and content.
Great teachers make teaching content relevant by connecting it to the world in which their students live. This includes teaching lessons about the local environmental, highlighting traditional knowledge and connection to the land, including climate, fauna and flora, as well as the history about a place. The aspect of land links is also an important factor for training students’ ability of acute observations as required in Science and often best taught in nature. Land linkst is arguably an important part of teaching Sustainability, one of three cross-curriculum priorities in the Australian Curriculum.
Non-linear thinking can be translated as Critical and Creative Thinking, a key general capability to be developed in the Australian Curriculum. This is because lateral thinking or what we also call “thinking outside the box” is the foundation of innovation. In the words of the 8 Ways pedagogical framework, “we put different ideas together and create new knowledge“.
Deconstruct and reconstruct:
deconstruct and reconstruct
On the one hand this pedagogy describes the gradual release of responsibility instructional framework, where teachers first unpack new knowledge with the students by means of modelling and scaffolding, then encourage shared and individual practice. It also emphasises the importance of holistic knowledge, always anchoring new content in prior student knowledge, by “work[ing] from wholes to parts“.
The 8 Ways pedagogical framework is hardly radical, allows for broad practical applications in a wide range of local school contexts and does not prescribe any particular or commercial classroom materials and training requirements. It also sidesteps possible constraints in curriculum content choices, which prior to the introduction of the Australian Curriculum and in particular the cross-curriculum priority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures had the potential to constrain Indigenous education in mainstream schools and classes. It also recognises that every school community and every local Indigenous culture is different, and that one-size-fits-all prescriptions are problematic and limiting. Rather than being explicit about teaching content (e.g. Indigenous lesson units by commercial providers such as sharingculture.com), classroom and school management styles (e.g. Stronger Smarter developed by Chris Sara), particular teaching styles (e.g. Direct Instruction advocated by Noel Pearson), or conceptual frameworks for constructing individual teaching and learning episodes (e.g. Uncle Ernie’s framework), the 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning approach promotes culturally sensitive and informed ways of teaching and learning practically anything in ways that benefit all students.
The challenges with such an open, inclusive, and non-commercial pedagogical framework are in professional adoption and meaningful translation and applications. The 8 Ways is only one of an ever growing number of culturally-informed pedagogical approaches advocated to Australian teachers, and while not necessarily in conflict with the others risks of being only superficially adopted and watered-down in practice to the point where it would make little difference to Indigenous students. Without any specific units, class material, applied recommendations in areas such as EAL/D, it will be easy for teachers to endorse it in theory but not in practice. This is even more likely within the non-commercial context of this framework, as it will not be actively marketed by consultants for professional development to schools.
The AITSL professional teacher standards 1.4 (strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students) and 2.4 (understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians) frame much of the professional classroom practice in relation to Indigenous students, and teaching Indigenous perspectives and understanding. The 8 Ways approach has the potential to directly inform the teaching practice by offering a rich, culturally-informed framework to design teaching and learning episodes and activities. While not supporting this process with specific teaching material or recommendations for lessons on Indigenous people, culture, country/places which would inform teaching about the reconciliation process between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, the 8 Ways framework supports meaningful cross-cultural dialogue and shared learning experiences.
Personally, I find the comprehensive nature and non-prescriptive approach of the eight interconnected pedagogies very appealing, because they can easily be to be applied across all curriculum areas. The are also an excellent starting point for discussing curriculum and pedagogy choices with the local Indigenous and non-Indigenous school community. This flexibility also ensures compatibility to work with any (future) version of the Australian Curriculum, across changing cross-curricular priorities, different whole-school approaches and communities, by offering pedagogical approaches that benefit all students and make real connections to local knowledges and practices.
In researching the conventions in functional grammar colour-coding, I came across Montessori’s grammar pedagogy. Montessori associated geometric shapes and colours with the building blocks of traditional grammar creating semiotically-rich classroom manipulatives.
In 1923, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky created a questionnaire that asks participants to fill out three geometric shapes (triangle, square, circle) with one of three primary colours yellow, red and blue. While concerns can be raised about presenting the “correct” order of answers, the primary colour-geometry relationship that came out proved very influential and can be found in all of Kandinsky’s paintings.
Kandinsky’s questionnaire. 1923. Bauhaus Archiv, Berlin
Kandinsky’s student Monica Ullmann‐Broner took a step further in 1931 and associated additional “secondary” geometrical forms with secondary colours.
Monica Ullman-Broner’s secondary form-colour associations. 1931. Bauhaus Archiv, Berlin
Inspired by his contemporaries in Weimar, Maria Montessori designed objects to recontextualise formal grammar for pedagogic discourse. She came up with nine grammar symbols still used today in Montessori schools to represent “nine parts of speech” (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, article, pronoun, conjunction, preposition and interjection). Montessori further groups these into four “functional families” (‘noun family’ – noun, adjective, article, pronoun; ‘verb family’ -verb, adverb; ‘the servants’ – conjunction, preposition, and ‘special case’ – interjection). The system uses three variables: colour, shape and size. The resulting grammar symbols can be compiled into a chart. Differently-sized sets of grammar symbols can further be combined into advanced grammar symbols that facilitate semiotic discussion of more complex grammatical concepts.
Verbs are depicted in red as circles or spheres. The verb is considered to be the central word (latin verbum) and to depict movement, actions, like a ball or the planets.
Nouns are depicted in black-blue as triangles or pyramids. The noun is considered stable like a pyramid. The pronoun is purple because it links the noun (blue-black) with the verb (red) (see Feez, 2007, p.361).
Modifiers reflect the shape and colour of their “parent element”, but are lighter in colours (blue for adjectives, orange for adverbs) and smaller in size.
Conjunctions are depicted as pink rectangles. The shape is considered to symbolise a hyphen.
Prepositions are depicted as green crescents. The shape is considered to symbolises a bridge.
Interjections are the special case, combining circle and square in golden colour.
It is fascinating to realise how much didactic thought Maria Montessori put into recontextualising abstract formal grammar into pedagogical manipulatives. One might ask why SFL did not adopt these semiotic colours in their transitivity system, making Processes red, Participants blue, and Circumstances … well I guess yellow/golden because they make situations special? However, as Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen conclude in their seminal analysis of colour as a semiotic mode: “Colour does what people do with it” (2002, p.350). So, perhaps it is then best to have children invest into their own grammar symbols and colours?
Feez, S. (2007). Montessori’s mediation of meaning: a social semiotic perspective. Learning to read with grammatics. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Sydney, 312-366.
Kress, G., & Van Leeuwen, T. (2002). Colour as a semiotic mode: notes for a grammar of colour. Visual communication, 1(3), 343-368.
Australian society is culturally and linguistically diverse, with languages other than English spoken in many homes and communities across the country. As a result, significant numbers of students enter the schooling system learning English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D). Together with all other students, they are required to develop advanced language and literacy skills to fully participate in the curriculum and engage in increasingly higher-order thinking. The educational goals for Australian students as outlined in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (Barr et al. 2008) underline the role of teachers in addressing the needs of EAL/D students by requiring all schools to promote equity and excellence, and to empower all students to become successful learners as well as confident, creative, active and informed individuals. The Australian Council of TESOL Associations’ (ACTA) EAL/D elaborations of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers highlight how pedagogies informed by the needs of EAL/D students play into all three domains of the teaching profession (ACTA, 2015).
Therefore, a review of recent theoretical and empirical research on pedagogical issues as relating to teaching EAL in Australian mainstream classrooms is essential to inform teachers with a better framework and best practices to address EAL/D students’ needs. In the following annotated bibliography I selected and reviewed five important journal articles on this topic:
Toni Dobinson, a lecturer with the School of Education at Curtin University, and Sylvia Buchori present a qualitative case study on selected Australian primary teachers’ knowledge and perspectives on catering for EAL/D students in mainstream classes. Reviewing relevant literature, the authors develop the argument that EAL/D students require specific guidance and support in academic subject- matter language acquisition. This includes structured implicit and explicit learning opportunities, appropriate “linguistically responsive” pedagogies (p.35), a multi-lingual mainstream literacy education inclusive of home languages, and teachers that serve language needs rather than act as “teachers of content” (p.36). The research part is based on interviews and class observations of four teachers and illustrates obstacles and well-intended but contra-productive pedagogical pitfalls. These include a lack of meaningful home language provision, strong beliefs on the benefits of monolingual classrooms, linguistically uninformed instruction, exclusive and deficit-focused ability grouping, and little explicit English language scaffolding. As solutions, the authors recommend teaching EAL/D- informed pedagogies to pre-service teachers and increased collaboration between mainstream ‘content teachers’ and specialist EAL/D teachers in the development of unit plans and differentiation strategies. The paper provides useful insights into the practical challenges faced by Australian primary school teachers in addressing EAL/D students’ needs. The authors demonstrate how specific knowledge on how to teach English as a new language is important and illustrate what can go wrong.
While not providing much practical pedagogical advice per se, their conclusion that a change in mindset away from content knowledge-only teachers towards discipline-knowledge and literacy teachers is convincing, and can inform our pedagogical practice in many Australian primary schools.
In this much-cited paper, Pauline Gibbons, Adjunct Professor at the University of New South Wales with extensive professional experience teaching and lecturing on EAL/D, makes the case for ‘high challenge, high support’ pedagogies for EAL/D students. She recommends combining an intellectually challenging curriculum with language scaffolding, which is essential to develop academic language and literacy across the curriculum. Based on collaborative research between university staff and primary school teachers in New South Wales, Gibbons sets out to define both the characteristics of intellectually challenging mainstream classrooms and the needs of EAL/D students. Challenging classrooms provide opportunities for students to engage in higher-order thinking with discipline-specific key ideas and concepts. This helps to transfer learned information to new contexts through inquiry-based learning, and to construct individual understanding through active participation and substantive conversations. For EAL/D students, information-transfer exercises, such as accessing and producing meaning from multiple sources of texts, are important but linguistically demanding. Gibbons offers pedagogical advice on how to create a supportive environment for EAL/D students, i.e.:
providing students with authentic contexts for collaborative inquiries and problem solving
explicit whole text-embedded teacher modelling of registers and genres, and
creating opportunities for EAL/D students to practice and contribute, because “[s]tudents learn […] about language in the context of using language” (p.171).
Gibbons provides a useful framework for teaching EAL/D in mainstream classes by highlighting the benefits of pedagogies that provide high cognitive challenges and high levels of differentiated support for all learners. Her approach to focus on EAL/D students’ potential provides a critical non-deficit perspective. While focusing on the bigger picture, however little practical advice and scaffolding strategies on EAL/D are forwarded.
Jennifer Hammond, Director of the former Centre for Language and Literacy, University of Technology Sydney, investigates the Australian Curriculum (AC) from the perspective of how EAL/D students’ needs are explicitly and implicitly recognised, and how specific EAL/D pedagogical approaches are positioned. Hammond first outlines the needs of EAL/D students in relation to the curriculum:
knowledge about language, literacy and language development, i.e. mastery of academic language registers and discipline-specific literacy,
intellectual challenge and ‘deep knowledge’ through high teacher expectations for all students,
planning and implementation of support programs providing required language scaffolding.
Hammond next summarises the hopes and concerns in the AC v3 for EAL/D students and teachers. Hopes are in the rejection of alternative/simplified curricula for EAL/D students, instead targeting equity through high intellectual challenge in mainstream education. A concern is that equity through challenge only works if teachers provide EAL/D students with targeted language and literacy support to access all areas of the curriculum, placing the onus on discipline teachers to also act as language teachers and scaffold for EAL/D students. This responsibility was not made explicit in AC v3, where the development of explicit knowledge about language is primarily placed in English. In the AC v8, literacy is more prominent and as a ‘general capability’ at the core of the national curriculum that needs to be addressed in all learning areas, making pedagogical knowledge around teaching language and literacy an important professional development area for many teachers.
Hammond’s critical review has been influential in emphasising literacy across all areas of the curriculum in later versions of the Australian Curriculum. It also sets the scene for discussing the roles teachers need to fill, and consequently the pedagogies teachers need to explicitly teach language and literacy skills in all learning areas.
This paper complements Hammond and Gibbons’ widely cited paper (2005) based on the same collaborative ESL scaffolding action research project. Michell, writing as Senior Education Officer with DET NSW, develops a contextual, multi-modal model of instructional scaffolding to address linguistic and cultural needs of EAL/D students in mainstream classrooms. The model is grounded in socio-cultural theories incorporating both intellectual (task-enabling support) and social semiotic (language-mediated co-regulation) perspectives, and is informed by the analysis of authentic classroom practice. The intellectual aspect involves instructional scaffolding along the zone of proximal development trajectory, managing task complexity and focus to cognitively challenge the student to learn, while providing the support required. Along this trajectory, support evolves from more explicit modelling towards guidance and allowing the student to take more control. The social semiotic aspect focuses on interactional dialogue providing students with the emotional support to fully participate and persevere, as well as opportunities to advance academic thinking and expression. The analysis of observed instructional scaffolding provides detailed insight into how lead teachers apply and inform the theoretical framework, including the resources they routinely draw on. The authors summarise the contextual pre-requisites for scaffolding.
The paper contributes to the investigation of EAL/D pedagogies by providing a comprehensive and detailed model of scaffolding, informed and illustrated by classroom observations. The promoted approach of collective instructional EAL/D scaffolding is particularly informative and useful in the context of inclusive mainstream school settings in Australia. The paper complements the “network model of scaffolding” approach by Hammond and Gibbons (2005), which highlights scaffolding micro- and macro-level teacher choices.
Joel Windle and Jenny Miller, senior researchers at the Faculty of Education, Monash University, investigate the rate of implementation of recent EAL/D pedagogy frameworks by teachers in Victorian secondary schools that receive funding for low-literacy refugee-background (LLRB) students. They look at the explicit teaching of academic language, using students’ prior knowledge and the careful sequencing of learning through phases. Refugee students are an important category of EAL/D students who often lack literacy skills in their first language and have little prior experience of western education. The authors categorise EAL/D pedagogies into five broad categories each with examples of relevant strategies:
attention to comprehensible input
direct and explicit teaching of language
focus on metacognitive skills and strategies
focus on critical and creative skills.
The sixty-one teacher participants reported on their routine implementation of those strategies. Accordingly, teachers were more likely to engage in strategies that demanded an active role of themselves (teacher-focused activities) rather than providing students with opportunities to practise language through student inquiries and content generation. Also, scaffolding at the level of genre or text-type features is rarely implemented, in particularly in learning areas other than English. The authors conclude that teacher professional development activities need to focus more on building student autonomy through peer-supported practice, as well as on language and literacy scaffolding in learning areas other than English.
While the authors make LLRB students a focus of their inquiry, little insight is provided on pedagogies that might particularly benefit this EAL/D category. Instead, the paper investigates how teachers of these students draw on a range of general EAL/D strategies. Despite this limitation, the paper is included for its useful tabular overview of recent language and literacy strategies and the ranking by teachers.
The starting point for this annotated bibliography is Hammond’s 2012 review of the Australian Curriculum as the national framework and space in which EAL/D support in mainstream classrooms takes place. It informs on the legitimacy of EAL/D pedagogies and emphasises the importance of making teaching of language and literacy more explicit in all discipline areas. Indeed, changes to the curriculum since 2012 indicate that prescriptive content knowledge made space for more student-centred pedagogies and an emphasis on literacy, including phonics and phonemic awareness in English (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2016). These changes directly address her voiced concerns and needs of EAL/D students.
The curriculum developments are in line with Gibbons’ (2008) call for ‘high challenge, high support’ pedagogies that combine an intellectually challenging curriculum with language scaffolding for EAL/D students, and with Dobinson and Buchori’s (2016) advise for all subject area teachers to develop discipline literacy pedagogies and work more closely with EAL/D specialists. It is Windle and Miller (2012) that provide insights into EAL/D pedagogies and strategies practised by Australian teachers. Their tabular overview of recent EAL/D language and literacy strategies is a useful starting point to investigate EAL/D pedagogies in more detail, and it creates awareness around strategies currently undervalued in practice and possible reasons why.
Against this background and insight into the Australian landscape of EAL/D pedagogies, Michell and Sharpe’s (2005) detailed model of scaffolding, informed and illustrated by classroom observations, adds critical detail and practical examples. Their focus on collective instructional EAL/D scaffolding is particularly useful in the context of the inclusive mainstream classrooms in which teaching EAL/D takes place in Australia. However, it is important to note that their model is only one among other competing and complementing approaches, as highlighted by Hammond and Gibbons “network model of scaffolding” (2005) in the same volume.
The fundamentals of language learning can be divided into six interrelated communication processes or language macro skills. Listening, reading and viewing are the receptive language macro skills, and speaking, writing and presenting are the productive skills (Barrot, 2016). All six are explicitly addressed in this teaching and learning episode:
Listening is easily overlooked as a passive skill in literacy pedagogies (Bozorgian, 2012), but essential for students to understand and follow explanations and instructions, and to socially participate in the class. The provision of visual support, paralinguistic cues and talking with clear pronunciation and emphasis are important means to support aural language comprehension in literacy learners (Vandergrift, 2015).
Reading is the skill where the reader creates meaning from written text. In the the early primary school years, students are “reading to learn” while in upper primary years are increasingly expected to “read to learn” (Duke et al., 2003). This requires critical literacy skills that go beyond developing decoding competence in what Peter Freebody and Allan Luke refer to as the four roles of the reader (Freebody & Luke, 1990; Luke & Freebody, 1999; Luke, 2000): code breaker, text participant, text user and text analyst.
Viewing is a recent addition to the traditional four language macroskills on account of the increasing importance of visual media (Barrot, 2016). Viewing is making meaning from non-print multimedia and visual images and can be used as tool to develop cultural knowledge. As the receptive mode addressing multi-media and digital literacies, it has been included in a reconceptualised version of the ‘four resources model’ (Serafini, 2012; Hinrichsen & Coombs, 2014).
Speaking is the productive skill in which students convey their ideas and understanding to others. Academic oral communication shares many features with written communication (Barrot, 2016). Oral competency is based on the knowledge and practice of vocabulary, pronunciation and functional grammar (Nation & Newton, 2008). Literacy students need opportunities to develop and practice English phonetic and phonological skills. These include the pronunciation of new words based on speech sounds, sound patterns, word and sentence stress and intonation patterns (Brown, 2014). Further, students need to develop fluency in speaking in applied social contexts by participating and engaging in task-oriented classroom conversations (Williams, 2001; Gibbons, 2008; Gibbons, 2015). In particular mixed-ability group work provides all learners with the opportunity to practise speaking in socially-meaningful task-oriented context (Gibbons, 2015; Im & Martin, 2015).
Writing allows students to capture and document their ideas and understanding. It provides knowledge to both writer and reader (Barrot, 2016), which is why it is often the preferred active mode for summative assessments. For over thirty years, Australian schools have been following the genre-based approach towards teaching writing which informs the Australian Curriculum (Hammond, 1987; Derewianka, 2012).
Linguistic transitivity explores how language is used to interpret and communicate our experience of the world around us. Our experience of reality is translated in terms of Processes. Michael Halliday, the father of systematic functional linguistics, divided the transitivity process in into three components:
the Process itself,
the Participants in the process,
and Circumstances associated with the Process.
As discussed in an earlier post that suggest a colour key for these components, Processes are generally realised by verbs and verbal groups. Processes define the kind of event being described, what is “going on”. They are generally the first thing to look for, when performing functional grammar analysis. This is because participants are identified by the Processes they are involved in.
Halliday differentiates six process types (1976). Leong Ping Alvin, in his blog posts on transitivity, developed a helpful mnemonic that is here applied and expanded into an “M&M VERB” poster as a teaching resource:
What do you see here? M&M talking (VERBalising) with each other – MMVERB
Here is a short description of the M&M VERBs. Examples can be brainstormed with the literacy learners and results compiled as a poster.
process of doing (physical actions)
give, take, write
processes of perception, cognition, affection
like, think, see
processes of communication
say, explain, ask,
processes signalled by there …
exist, there is …
processes of being and having
be, have, become
processes of human behaviour
laugh, cry, breathe
Halliday, M. A. K. (1976). Types of process. Halliday: System and function in language, 159-173.
Lexical selection serves the purpose of isolating and identifying the single most appropriate word or item from a cohort of semantically related words. Semantic gradients are an excellent teaching and learning device to broaden and deepen students’ vocabulary, by developing awareness of the subtle connotations and differences between semantically connected or overlapping words. The fundamental idea of semantic gradients is to develop a continuum of related words between two gradable opposites such as antonyms. All the words are sequenced by order of degree through minimising semantic distances.
The authors also offer cloze activities where students consider “the best word for the job”.
In general words can be arranged along the semantic gradient as an array creating a horizontal “bridge”, or as a vertical “ladder”. A graphic organiser that combines the two approaches in a diagonal can be downloaded here.
The activity is best practiced in small groups, followed by a class-wide comparison of results. This is to encourage discussion around the subtle differences in meaning between the semantically related words.
There are a number of scaffolding approaches, such as providing students with a word bank of related words, establishing the antonyms and most neutral word to be placed in the centre, colouring the words using a colour gradient.
Semantic gradient with colour cues
Semantic gradients are best practiced in an authentic and meaningful context. While this could be choosing “the best verb for the job” in a narrative writing activity in English, the teaching and learning device is also ideal to explicitly teach academic language and connect abstract concepts in other key learning areas.
In Science students can be asked to sequence words describing temperature (e.g. freezing to boiling), rock-forming minerals by density (e.g. Calcite to Pyrite ) or hardness (e.g. Talc to Quartz), alkaline and acid solutions by pH value.
In Maths, Brook Giordarno presented how semantic gradients can be used to practices the terms describing different angles (e.g. acute, right, obtuse, straight).
Other examples could be to sort and name polyhedral by number of vertices, edges, faces and diagonals.
In Humanities, semantic gradients can for example be used to explore power relationships (e.g. Queen, Prime Minister, Premier, Lord Mayor, Mayor, Councillor, …)
History stimulus example: rank in a medieval estate-based society
Below is a step-by-step instruction for how to set up a semantic gradient activity adapted from Reading Rockets:
Create multi-ability groups of maximum four students
Select a pair of gradable opposites, avoiding complementary pairs such as ‘on/off’
Generate at least five synonyms for each antonym
Arrange each set of synonyms from most to least extreme
Combine both sets of synonyms from most to least extreme, with the least extreme words in the middle, and the most extreme words on each end
Discuss choices with a peers. Use reference sources to help settle any disputes.
Make adjustments to your arrangement based on your discussion.
Blachowicz, C. L. (1986). Making connections: Alternatives to the vocabulary notebook. Journal of Reading, 29(7), 643-649.
Greenwood, S. C., & Flanigan, K. (2007). Overlapping vocabulary and comprehension: Context clues complement semantic gradients. The Reading Teacher, 61(3), 249-254.
Popplet is an interactive app designed for the iPad and web browser and can be used by students to capture and organise ideas. Popplet offers an exciting information and communications technology (ICT) alternative to highlighting functional “chunk of meaning” as explored in previous print-based and kinesthetic activities.
In Popplet, the teacher can write a few sentences from children’s literature loved by the class (e.g. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, 1957) into boxes that differentiate the functional elements Participants, Attributes, Processes, and Circumstances.
Example of functional grammar Popplet task.
Next, the students on iPads or on the interactive white board are tasked to colour in the frames of the boxes (simple click) using the functional grammar colour key and to explain their choices.
Example of functional grammar Popplet completed task.
The original idea of using Popplet as an ICT approach for students to demonstrate understanding of functional grammar was developed by Krystal Laspas (2014). Krystal goes one step further by asking the students to look for “other words” that can replace those of individual boxes in linked black boxes. An alternative extension idea would be to allow students to change the original text, to ask them to make it more personal while remaining key features such as the rhymes.
Example of functional grammar Popplet extension activity.
Popplet is a great format for this extension activity. The words and phrases can be changed with a single click. At the end, the students are required to review any potential functional changes in their sentences. For example, the last part of the sentence has changed from “the winning-est winner” (Participant) “of all“(Circumstances) to “the most famous” (Attribute) “Australian” (Participant).
In reference to Luke (and Freebody’s) Four Resources Model (2000), this extension activity is designed to provide literacy learners with opportunities to progress from ‘code breakers’ and ‘text participants’ (semantic competence) to become ‘text users’ (pragmatic competence) and ‘text analysts’ (coding competence). In terms of the six guiding principles for teaching reading and writing in the twenty-first century (Seely-Flint, Kitson, Lowe, & Shaw, 2014), the extension activity provides authentic opportunities for students to work with multi-modal texts and student-led inquiry by creating their own meaningful adaptations. In conclusion, the students are asked to work with functional grammar to express themselves.
Any Popplet can be shared by creating a link, by inviting collaborators. Popplets can be duplicated for groups of students to allow for simultaneous and individual work and assessment.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises. (1957). Oh, the places you’ll go! Random House Inc., New York.