Change is upon us!

With the NSW version of the Australian Curriculum to be implemented from 2014 in my KLA (English) for years 7 and 9, our faculty is planning how these changes can be incorporated into our planning for next year.

Our Head Teacher suggested that one of the most pressing things is to conduct planning with primary school teachers, particularly Stage 3, in order to map out how the new outcomes will shape the content we teach.

I have been pondering how this discussion might be best facilitated recently, and have wondered how other English faculties and primary school teachers have been preparing for this change.

I have thought about drafting a matrix like this and filling it out using backwards mapping: i.e. what do we want students to know by the “endpoint”? And working from there around the concepts that we teach in different aspects of English (which will fit into the different strands in the new syllabus).

Concept Desired End Point Stage 6 Stage 5 Stage 4 Stage 3 Stage 2

Syllabus outcome

Syllabus content

Suggested texts

Learning across curric

For example, if we take the concept of figurative language, we may have a desired end point of wanting students to understand the way comparisons affect the qualities and characteristics given to a person, object etc and be able to identify these qualities in common and explain the effect of the given figurative device. If we assume that the end of stage 6 is our end point, by working backwards, we see that this is what we must teach them in stage 6. So what must we teach in Stage 5? Perhaps the identification of these devices and an explanation of their definitions and the effect. Which devices are expected knowledge in stage 5? What kinds of texts would be appropriate for teaching these concepts? And the questions go on and on.

This may be a slightly simplistic view of how the new syllabus can be planned and programmed for, however I think that it is a good start to see what teachers consider THEIR role as a primary school teachers of English and high school teachers of English.

What I find especially daunting is the fact that some of the new Stage 3 outcomes resemble outcomes we are now teaching at the end of Stage 4 and into Stage 5. Now while this doesn’t sound like a dramatic leap when it’s phrased like that, the fact is, that the burden will now be put on primary school teachers to teach these extremely complex aspects of English, when previously it would have fallen to those of us who don’t need to be trained in millions of different KLAs like primary teachers.

I think that without working backwards, which is what most competent teachers do anyway in their everyday planning, we cannot possibly meet the demands of the new syllabus, which is that learning is supposed to be viewed as a CONTINUUM.

Please, any helpful advice would be appreciated! As I said, we are in our planning stage and would love to have input!