Module 2 – Curriculum in the Middle Years

3 Cross­curriculum priorities and general capabilities

The cross-­curriculum priorities and general capabilities are integrated into the curriculum documents of the various States in different ways. Check curriculum documentation for your State and note in your learning journal how this is done.

Glenn Savage of the University of Melbourne in (Adoniou, M, Louden, B, & Savage, G , 2015) sums up the intention and understanding of the curriculum format into the three parts:

  • “The discipline-based “Learning Areas” are the traditional school subjects, or what students need to know. There are strong arguments for maintaining disciplines at the heart of a curriculum.
  • “General Capabilities” outline the skills or attributes that are seen to be relevant to young people, or what students need to be able to do in our increasingly globalised 21st century.
  • “Cross-Curriculum Priorities” require teachers to engage with contemporary issues not necessarily made explicit in the school subjects. These are currently Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures; Sustainability; and Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia.”

The Cross-curriculum priorites listed in the Australian Curriculum are designed to incorporate the ‘employability skills’ students will need not only in their post-schooling years, but to develop throughout their schooling lives.  The overall aim of the general capabilities is to see each student develop necessary skills and knowledge to become a “Successful learner, confident and creative individual, and active and informed citizen.” (2016).  The VCAA website however warns that the ‘development of learning continua for the General Capabilities is still being undertaken by ACARA. Until that work has been completed and a process of validation undertaken, AusVELS will continue to use the current Physical, Personal and Social Learning and Interdisciplinary Learning strands’ ( 2016.2) as opposed to other states’ use of the cross-curriculum priorities.

The Victorian Curriculum has identified the following cross-curriculum priorities:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
  • Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia

The rationale for embedding these cross-curriculum priorities into the curriculum is that these are identified as issues of importance for contemporary Australian society.  The entrenchment of these priorities in each of the curriculum learning areas is based on the relevance and fit to that area. By doing so, the curriculum identifies these priorities as connected to and integrated within the greater curriculum to give students an understanding of the significance of these issues, rather than stand-alone learning.

4 Curriculum for Years 7 ­ 10

Record in your learning journal a summary of the information found in each your State’s curriculum documents which you will need to refer to when teaching Years 7 ­ 10.

With Victoria adopting its own version of the Australian Curriculum from 2017, it sets itself apart in the structure and ideology of the learning continuum.  The major reason for this breakaway from the other states is that it identifies learning as a fluid continuum (and developing student learning along this continuum) rather than by age and year-level expectations.

Victoria’s capabilities are listed as:

  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Ethical
  • Intercultural
  • Personal and Social

With this in mind, these capabilities are to be ‘developed, practised, deployed and demonstrated by students in and through their learning’ (2016) but importantly, assessed by teachers and the outcomes reported to parents.  Critics, such as Frawley (2016) whilst agreeing that these capabilities are important, struggle with the notion of placing a numeric rating or mark on them.  Frawley’s article raises valid points about the ability of testing these capabilities and associated quantifiable measures.


5 Humanities

Record in your learning journal the 5 most important things you have learned about the Humanities curriculum.

Within the Humanities learning area in primary schools, a number of ‘traditional’ secondary school subjects have been combined to assist in the de-clutter of the curriculum including: Civics and Citizenship, Economics and Business, Geography and History.

The most important things from this investigation:

  1. The listing of key premises of each of Australia’s five major religions to provide a very broad overview of a highly complex topic. (Fisher, 2015)
  2. The idea that Business and Economics is about the ‘allocation of resources’ of different people and groups from an individual to a worldwide view
  3. Geography looks at the places within our environment with the various concepts from personal and global perspectives widening in scope and increasing complexity as the student progresses
  4. History investigates societies, events and developments that have influenced the lives of humans from various times and places
  5. A common thread throughout the Humanities subjects is to inspire interest and a desire for learning about these subjects through the various perspectives available, learning research and investigation tools that assist with the comprehension of subject materials but for the students; future post-schooling life.


6 The Arts

Record in your learning journal a summary of the information found in each your State’s curriculum documents which you will need to refer to when teaching Years 7 ­ 10.

The Arts encompasses traditional arts and techniques, whilst also embracing and innovating through the use of technology to create and communicate.  The overview explains that students will be ‘artist and audience’ to develop creative, expressing and critical thinking skills which can be used in other areas of schooling and post-schooling life.

Whilst cultural identity has been portrayed through the arts wherever civilization has existed, the importance for Arts is to help students develop and identify with their own cultural identity from a personal and wider community level.

The multiple facets of Arts is to enrich the lives of students – an important part of the human experience.


7 Health and Physical Education

Record in your learning journal the 5 most important things you have learned about the Health and Physical Education curriculum.

Exploring the Health and Physical Education curriculum has identified the following points:

  1. The inclusion of physical, emotional and mental health awareness of a student’s self in the current moment and in future situations.
  2. Intention to develop life-long skills and awareness of healthy lifestyle in response to trends in public health issues.
  3. The inclusion of social issues such as healthy relationships, information about drug and alcohol, personal safety etc to widen the appeal to HPE for more students (i.e. as opposed to purely sporting pursuits).
  4. Age-appropriateness of drug and alcohol issues and relationships and sexuality education for early years learners.
  5. Social and emotional health awareness and strategies for identifying issues and courses of action.






Adoniou, M, Louden, B, & Savage, G (2015) ‘What will changes to the national curriculum mean for schools? Experts respond.’. The Conversation. Retrieved from: (2016). “General capabilities – Introduction – The Australian Curriculum v8.2.” Retrieved from (2016.2).. AusVELS – General capabilities. Retrieved 30 July 2016, from (2016.1) ‘AusVELS – Cross-curriculum priorities’. Retrieved from

Batham, Jane. (2012) ‘Classroom blogs and addressing the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. [online]’ Quick; n.120 p.14-17; Autumn 2012. Retrieved from:;dn=194660;res=AEIPT

Fisher, P. (2015) ‘Learning about world views and religions’ VCAA website Retrieved from:

Frawley, E. (2016, March 20). ‘Victoria’s new curriculum priorities are almost impossible to assess.’ The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from: (2016).. ‘Overview – Learning areas and Capabilities – Victorian Curriculum.’ Retrieved from:


Module 3 – Integrated programs

1 Introduction

What is your opinion about the concept of ‘silo’ and ‘non-silo’ learning in the middle years?

(maximum 250 words)


2 Definitions

Add definitions for each of these terms to your learning journal.

  • Disciplinary
  • Transdisciplinary
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Interdisciplinary



3 Inquiry based learning

A SWOT graphic organiser (like the one below) can be used as an analysis tool. Use your knowledge of inquiry-based learning to identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of this approach.



4 Integrated curriculum

What are 3 facts you have learned about curriculum integration from exploring these resources?


4.1 Approaches to integrating curriculum

Record your thoughts about these types of curriculum integration.


4.2 Integrating the Australian Curriculum

What are the two conditions for purposefully connected curriculum that Jenny refers to?

What are some factors that should be considered for authentically connecting curriculum?


Module 5 Numeracy in the Middle Years

1 Numeracy defined

‘All teachers are teachers of numeracy.’

Discuss this statement with reference to your understanding of numeracy.

The inherent use of numbers, mathematical terminologies and concepts overlaps all subjects in school and is present in most, if not all, of out of school life.  Defined in ACARA (2009), Numeracy is the “capacity, confidence and disposition to use mathematics to meet the demands of learning, school, home, work, community and civic life. This perspective on numeracy emphasizes the key role of applications and utility in learning the discipline of mathematics, and illustrates the way that mathematics contributes to the study of other disciplines.”

Therefore as teachers, we incorporate numeracy as part of our teaching both explicitly and implicitly.


2 Numeracy and the Australian Curriculum

Take your own notes about each of six numeracy elements.


Estimating and calculating with whole numbers

Developing strategies to solve problems that require the suitable use and knowledge of numbers and mathematical strategies.


Recognising and using patterns and relationships

Analysing existing data to determine trends etc in order to predict future effects on a similar situation.


Using fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios and rates

Students developing an understanding of relationships of shapes, numbers, quantities and parts thereof and how to create and interpret these representations.


Using spatial reasoning

Using strategies and techniques to identify two and 3 dimensional shapes and locations and relationships between these.


Interpreting statistical information

Ways of collecting and recording (creating) and interpreting data and developing forecasts for future events based on the information.


Using measurement

Familiarisation with the measurement systems used (time, metric measurements) throughout Australian society, how they are used, recorded and notated.


With reference to different learning areas, identify some ways in which you can develop numeracy in The Arts, Health and Physical Education and Humanities and Social Sciences for Grade 5 & 6.


Within the following subjects, numeracy can be included to develop students’ skills by:

Arts – relationship between musical notation and timings

Health & PE – recording and analysis of times taken to complete various tasks (i.e. running times) and appropriate record keeping.

Humanities and Social Sciences – extraction of statistical information (e.g. population) from various sources including tables and/or charts.



3 Numeracy in the curriculum


  1.  How would you describe the relationship between mathematics and numeracy?

Numeracy is the concept of using numbers and numerical values to understand situations encountered in everyday life.  Mathematics is the specific use of numbers and mathematic tools to solve problems.  Therefore, numeracy is the identification of the situation where a mathematical approach can be taken, and then interpreting the results.  Mathematics is the ‘what’ but numeracy is the ‘how’ and ‘when’.


2.  List five reasons for why good numeracy skills are important.


Numeracy skills are important for the following reasons:

  • Numeracy is intrinsic in many aspects of modern life (such as preparing food, deciphering a timetable, managing household budgets.)
  • Numeracy can be used to make decisions based on the correct use of mathematical systems – e.g. the value of a supermarket item
  • Numeracy is knowing when and how to use mathematics – it gives the study of mathematics greater relevance and therefore importance to most students’ schooling and out of schooling lives.
  • Increased availability of information means that summaries of information are being sought too – therefore, being able to make decisions and form opinions based on the summarized information can be important.
  • Most, if not all, aspects of life and living require numeracy skills


3.   What are the key behaviours that are essential to being numerate?

  • Fluency in the use of mathematics (e.g. which operations and strategies to use)
  • Using mathematics in the appropriate context
  • Critique the findings
  • Communicate the inputs, outputs and discuss the results.


  1. What factors do teachers need to consider when planning for the numeracy opportunities that arise across the curriculum?


  1. What does the term ‘critical numeracy’ mean to you?

The ability to know when to use mathematics and be able to critique the outcomes.  It is the empowerment and confidence one has when faced with a task comprising elements of numeracy and mathematics.


  1. How can a teacher encourage their students to take a critical numeracy perspective across the learning areas?

Teachers can include numeracy within their teachings by allowing time for students to delve into the problem and take time to investigate or solve.  Whilst giving the answer straight away might be easier and time-efficient for the teacher, it eliminates the opportunity for a student to solve a real-life and meaningful problem using mathematics.



4 Strategies for teaching numeracy in the middle years

List and briefly describe five strategies you will use for teaching numeracy to middle years students.

  • Allow students time to think about, and the opportunity to solve the numeracy moments within other subjects
  • Use authentic learning materials students can relate to (i.e. use of cups and fractions of cups when discussing volume, rather than litres or above)
  • Create the link between mathematics and how it relates to everyday activities (i.e. use of cricket statistics)
  • Provide a scaffolding approach when introducing mathematical concepts and relating back to familiar terms (such as fractions – using familiar concepts such as dividing a pizza, sandwich etc)
  • Differentiate teaching by positioning around the room to provide challenge to capable students whilst assisting those requiring further assistance.



ACARA, (2009) Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics Retrieved from:

Askew, M., Brown,M., Rhodes, V., Wiliam, D., Johnson, D., (1997) ‘Effective Teachers of Numeracy in Primary Schools: Teachers’ Beliefs, Practices and Pupils’ Learning’
King’s College, University of London (2016). ‘Numeracy – Key ideas – The Australian Curriculum v8.2. Retrieved from:

Gunningham, S. (2002). A process for understanding mathematics.Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 7(2), 4-6.

Siemon, D. (2011). Teaching mathematics : Foundations to middle years. South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press.

Watson, J. (2008).National Literacy and Numeracy Week 2008 Critical Numeracy in Context [Video file]. Retrieved from




Module 4 Literacy in the Middle Years


1 Literacy defined

   ‘All teachers are teachers of literacy.’

Discuss this statement with reference to your understanding of literacy.


Whilst PISA defines literacy as “the ability to understand, use and reflect on written texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate effectively in society” (p iv in Freebody, 2007,) Kist (2000) points out “not only of print but of combinations of graphic art, music, mathematics, drama, cinema, and others”.  It means that students are developing the tools and skills to create, comprehend, critique and communicate via a broad range of words and written structures and therefore the definition continues to be hazy. So if literacy is the ability to send and receive communications via media, then all teachers are teachers of literacy.

Teachers are sending and receiving communications with their student body, not only to for the students to learn the subject content, but to develop their own motivations and tools to communicate through the various media available today and in the future.  Different subjects and even different topics within subjects required their own jargon, terminologies and language structures.  For example the teaching of mathematics requires the introduction and use of terms, symbols and syntax not found in traditionally text based subjects such as those from the humanities area of learning.  For students learning fractions, the ability to understand, use and reflect on the use of ‘numerator’ or ‘denominator’ requires the teacher to introduce and develop the student’s understanding mathematical literacy.  Eisner (1997) sums this up as thus:

“In order to be read, a poem, an equation, a painting, a dance, a novel, or a contract each requires a distinctive form of literacy, when literacy means, as I intend it to mean, a way of conveying meaning through and recovering meaning from the form of representation in which it appears.”

As the access to and development of literacies within our society, students and therefore teachers need to be aware of the medias existence, use and teaching approaches require adoption and adaptation to encompass and include these literacies.


2 Literacy and the Australian Curriculum

            Take your own notes about each of six literacy elements

  •  comprehending texts through listening, reading and viewing

Students developing the skills to interpret communications and creating an understanding from a variety of media.  This includes the interpretation and investigative skills of the student to identify explicit and implicit meaning and intentions.

  • composing texts through speaking, writing and creating

Students being equipped with the tools to generate texts suited to a variety of situations and via various media.

  • text knowledge

Developing a mastery of text knowledge in identifying the text created and comprehended through the structures and cohesion of words and sentences.

  • grammar knowledge

Developing a mastery of text structure and syntax to identify and to create texts to broaden meaning and interpretation through word groupings and author’s intention.

  • word knowledge

Developing a mastery of words (definition, pronunciation, use and spelling) within the learning area and in cross-curriculum requirements.

  • visual knowledge

The interpretation of visual representations of information such as charts, icons, images, symbols etc and the importance of transferring meaning and/or enhancing the meaning of texts.


With reference to different learning areas, identify some ways in which you can develop literacy in The Arts, Health and Physical Education and Humanities and Social Sciences for Grade 5 & 6.

 Within each of these subject areas, there are inherent literacies requiring the adaptation of new or adjustment of existing words, jargon and comprehension for students.  The inherent requirement to build and develop literacies for students within years 5 & 6 enables teachers to provide opportunities for students to use, create, evaluate and discuss terminologies and structures but to also provide a scaffold to use appropriate language within the subject area.

Some examples include:

  • using correct anatomical terms in Health and Physical Education (as opposed to lay terms)
  • introducing art projects that encompass traditional terms within that field (e.g. the term ‘graphic’ or ‘image’ rather than ‘picture’
  • within Humanities, being more explicit in identifying historic events (e.g. the use of decades or stages rather than a generic ‘olden days’


3 Reading and comprehension

Cueing systems – Record the main features of each part of this model.


  1. Semantic
    • Topic/content knowledge
    • Cultural/world knowledge
    • Vocabulary knowledge


Ability to make predictions as to the content of the text through creating meaning based on our existing knowledge Awareness of the topic and content.  This knowledge is used to predict meaning and confirm meaning or make revisions during our reading process.  This is the most effective of the three parts of this model.


  1. Syntactic
    • Grammatical knowledge
    • Text knowledge

Interpretation of the grammatical structure of the text by identifying and decoding the structure, grammar, tense, word order etc to holistically creating meaning from the text.


  1. Grapho-phonetic
    • Word knowledge
    • Graphophonic knowledge
    • Orthographic knowledge


Least effective of the three parts, this is the high-intensity (i.e. identify each letter or word individually) to decipher meaning.  Visual clues (e.g. images in a picture-story book) can assist in developing meaning for the reader.


Comprehension – How will you use this technique in your teaching?

 Using the comprehension strategies is an important part of developing the mastery of literacy for students.  By working with and encouraging students to learn the words and terms through scaffolded learning environment, it emboldens students to practice these strategies in decoding and extracting meaning from other texts.  The development of not only these strategies, but the confidence to use them is important in the ongoing development of each student’s literacy skills.

4 Writing


 Look at these resources, then identify and explain two ways you will help your students develop their writing skills.

Work with students to identify the differences and importance of written language versus spoken language in terms of the format and content.  Look at the structures in familiar texts in terms of dialogue compared to example dialogue between students and or between student and teacher.

Assist in the differentiation for formal and informal purposes and how the styles, language and layouts used can communicate the intention of the writer and the reception by the reader.


Vocabulary & Spelling – Is it important to teach handwriting to middle school students? Why or why not?

 Whilst the proliferation of information technology devices has given rise to more electronically created and distributed material, teaching the skill of hand-writing is important.  It is an important activity to immerse the student into the activity at hand and is multi-sensory in that there are ideas and thoughts flowing, and a tangible outcome from pen to paper.  With the omni-present qwerty keyboard close by, so too are the digital distractions (such as other, more exciting programs and apps).  The use of handwriting to help students identify words through forming not only the shapes of the letters but meanings of the letter combinations – words.


Module 1 The Middle Years Learner

1)     Defining the Middle Years

i.In a tweet length response (140 characters), describe a middle years learner.


2)     The teenage brain

i. Identify and describe three ways you will use this information in your teaching of adolescent students (1 sentence for each description).

The idea of teenage rebellion:

Within guidelines, allow and encourage students to seek alternate ways of completing tasks.

Connection to learning:

The connectivity between learning and using judgement is weak – need to help students grow the judgement capacity.

Addiction occurs in a similar part of the brain as learning

Work with students exposed to and/or using addictive substances by monitoring effects on learning and development.

3)     Stages of learning development

Note any observations you have made about middle years students and their learning development from the two tables and the video clip.

The middle years learner is adding to their early learns learning of basic academic functions with most being able to master basic addition or spell commonly used words – “That’s easy-peasy” and often challenging each other.  There is influence by the group to take on more responsibility for their own learning and this is reflected in the classroom where projects and assessments can be completed with the student choosing their own focus of study within the parameters of the project and rubric.

As students are demanding more from their education at this stage, it is also an opportunity for teachers to co-develop or guide the creation of a marking rubric so as students are aware of the expectations from the assessment and can self-assess their own work.  The dynamics of the middle years’ classroom is different to early years in that there is a growth in the formation of groups through peer relationships however this can lead to issues of bullying and exclusion adding a social level to the learning not previously seen.  The social, emotional, and academic development of the middle years’ students are dynamic and grow at a unique rate for each individual.

Students in the middle years apply their different learning strategies to approach their learning using a combination of their life experiences and previous formal education experiences.  The development of their knowledge, application of this knowledge and skills to obtain, question and critique information contributes to a more complex learner than in early years.


i. Teaching and learning strategies

The four strategies discussed in this blog are: embrace their social nature; develop growth mindsets; provide structure; take time to breathe. Do these strategies cater adequately for the learning needs of adolescents? Compile your thoughts in a PMI Chart.

Plus Minus Interesting
embrace their social nature


Develop relationships with all students


Maintain awareness of the positive and negative relationships within the classroom (and the likelihood of these to change)

The volatility of relationships within this cohort


Reliance of students to seek the support and assistance of others rather than learning for themselves.

Dynamic within small groups as to the ‘natural’ vs selected leaders.


Use of friendship groups, but also the use of in-class experts to peer mentor

develop growth mindsets; Encourage the process for the student


Greatly assists child in academic and other areas


Outcomes become a lower priority – difficult when dealing with parents seeking traditional ‘marks’


Intelligence mindset


Don’t praise Intelligence and Ability, instead praise Process and Effort

provide structure; Create a reliable and comforting environment through structure


Preparation for the structures and expectations of post-school life

Can limit creativity and individuality



Having a reliable and stable environment through structure is important, particularly if home life is busy, dynamic, hectic or even chaotic.
take time to breathe A welcoming place with a welcoming face. Whilst it detracts from mainstream curriculum requirements, it helps students ‘check-in’ with themselves. Helps control emotions and build peer-to-peer relationships – critical in this age group

List your top 10 strategies from this chapter that you can use when teaching middle years students


Develop relationships – develop and maintain positive relationships with students as individuals, students as learners, and students as part of a group.

Acknowledge differences is development rates – the rates of which students develop is beginning to spread.

Connect learning to lives – learning needs to be relevant to the students’ lives to inspire motivation and interest.

Show respect – encourage student learning through a nurturing environment and respecting differences of students.  This in turn should result in mutual respect.

Predict unpredictability – there are outside school and biological issues beyond the teachers’ control.  Understand that these can influence greatly

Use the peer factor for good – utilise the social aspect of school by designing activities for groups to enable students to explore the relationship building and dynamics within a safe, supervised environment of the class room.

Input to rules – allow students to have input into rules and expectations to encourage their ‘ownership’ of these.

Assist in time-management strategies – the transition from childhood to middle years also sees an increase in wanting independence.  With independence comes responsibility and help in using planning tools and meeting work requirements will assist this.

Keep an eye on the time – set time limits, use time warnings to increase the urgency.

Let them choose – by providing the parameters of where the students can choose the direction of their learning (i.e. the assignment topic), students take greater ownership and interest in the learning as it has personal interest.


Summarise (using dot points) your learning about how academic behaviours, academic perseverance, academic mindsets, learning strategies and social skills can impact the learning of adolescents.


  • Observable activities that reflect preparedness and engagement with education.
  • Commonly not observed (and/or irregularity with low performers)
  • Classroom behaviours can reflect the academic investment of students (i.e. engagement, motivation, completion, time on-task etc.)


  • Overcoming typical personal, organisational and motivational challenges to complete tasks
  • Difference between doing enough to pass and doing additional learning to know when and how to use the knowledge gained.
  • Sacrificing pleasures and delaying satisfactions by prioritising academic activity.


  • Positive mindsets belong to achieving students, whilst negative academic mindsets are often found in under-performing students.
  • Academic persistence is the accepting of a challenge to improve rather than an opportunity for failure
  • The sense of ‘belongingness’ to and within the classroom (socially and academically) effects confidence to attempt and complete tasks


  • The approach students have to learning opportunities to utilise the knowledge and learning tools available are key in cognition of new topics or building on existing knowledge.
  • Process of breaking-down, or ‘chunking’ learning into manageable components – the successful learner will be able to implement these within their own skill set.
  • Self-regulation to identify areas of achievement or to adopt additional strategies to develop effective and productive learning opportunities.


  • Within the classroom, social skills such as cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control are important in determining a student’s real or perceived acceptance within the social group
  • Whilst social skills within a classroom are relatively difficult to measure against academic performance, the value and connectedness a student’s perception of the value of their own education (i.e. enjoying school experience as a middle to low performing student academically).
  • Social and emotional growth and development are seen as important in schools, hence a focus to implement social-emotional learning rewards the school with more socially-aware students and increased focus.


Find two other resources that will help you with your teaching of adolescents. Record them in your journal with an explanation of why you have chosen them and how they help your understanding of adolescent


Implications of Brain Research for Teaching Young Adolescents  (Wilson & Horch, 2002).

This resource discusses the physiological changes in the brains of the middle years learner, covering important findings from brain research as the child develops through to adolescence and beyond and it’s influences on a student’s learning (and therefore teaching strategies used) “Growth and then pruning is an important stage of brain development that can influence learners for the rest of their lives.” (p. 58)


Building Happiness, Resilience and Motivation in Adolescents A Positive Psychology Curriculum for Well-Being.  MacConville & Rae (2012).

This resource is based on the premise around the “importance of individuals knowing and using their strengths is central to positive psychology because they relate to understanding and building each individual’s psychological health and well-being. Greater well-being in turn enhances learning, the traditional goal of education.” (p13)

4)     Transitions

Think about the range of transitions that a middle school student is likely to encounter. Can you predict the effects of these transitions on the young person? Record your thoughts in your journal.

Students are taking a major step in their education by transitioning from primary school at the end of year 6 to secondary education.  The changes in social and structure (traditionally referred to as going from being a big fish in a small pond to a smaller fish in a bigger pond) where rights and privileges senior students in primary school are afforded may no longer be available.  Combined with the physiological changes that take place during this time, there is often conflict at this time.

To assist with the transition between primary and secondary, schools are taking on the responsibility to assist with the transition by not only directly supporting transition students but their families by providing information sessions etc.  Support from schools, and in particular, welfare specialists at the destination school are important for the induction and inclusion of students to the new environment.  Students in rural and remote locations may find transition more difficult as they are in most cases leaving smaller school populations and travelling to larger regional centres with many times more students and teachers – a potentially daunting task.  The use of realistic and relatable resources such as students visiting their former primary school and guiding visitors through the new school are just some of the transition strategies used with success.



Bongolan, R., Moir, E., & Baron, W. (Eds.). (2009). Keys to the Secondary Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide to the First Months of School. Corwin Press

Carol Dweck – A Study on Praise and Mindsets. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved from (2016).  ‘Starting Secondary School’ Retrieved from

Encouraging Students to Persist Through Challenges. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 23 July 2016, from

Farrington, C. A., Roderick, M., Allensworth, E., Nagaoka, J., Keyes, T. S., Johnson, D. W., & Beechum, N. O. (2012). Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance–A Critical Literature Review. Consortium on Chicago School Research. 1313 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

MacConville, R., Rae, Tina, & Ebook Library. (2012). Building Happiness, Resilience and Motivation in Adolescents A Positive Psychology Curriculum for Well-Being.

Melcher, A (2015) ‘How To Become More Mindful In The Classroom.’  Tchers’ Voice. Retrieved from

Romero, C.  (2015). ‘Growth Mindset Made Visible’ Tchers’ Voice. Retrieved from:

Teaching Channel (2016) ‘Assess and Group’ Retrieved from:

Teaching Channel. (2016). Mindfulness in the Classroom. Retrieved from

Vierstra, G. (2015) Four Strategies To Create A Culture of Success in Middle School’ Tchers’ Voice Retrieved from:

Wilson, Lucinda M., & Horch, Hadley Wilson. (2002). Implications of Brain Research for Teaching Young Adolescents. What Research Says. Middle School Journal, 34(1), 57-61.




Module 5 Assessment

        I.            Write down 5 things you believe about assessment and 5 things you want to know about assessment.


I believe that formal assessment:

  1. Needs to be fair (i.e. no favouritism, or based on classroom behaviors etc.)
  2. Criteria needs to be transferable so other teachers would be able to mark assessments with similar accuracy
  3. Should provide feedback that is understandable by students and their parents/carers so both parties can identify how the assessment was made (and the score produced)
  4. Should be exclusive of the class/group results (e.g. not part of a bell-curve or other statistical model – whilst unlikely, if multiple students have earned full marks then that’s the mark they should be entitled to
  5. Can be scrutinized by students and teachers are confident their assessment strategy and marks are justified


I would like to know more about:

  1. Tools for developing marking rubrics
  2. Informal assessments to influence the class planning
  3. How assessment is done for VCE (i.e. outside of the school, centralized marking)
  4. Relating assessment tools back to curriculum (i.e. how much is enough/not enough)
  5. Developing tools for overall assessment (i.e. whole year)


      II.            Has anything you have read about changed or confirmed what you originally believed about assessment?


The idea that a teacher will monitor the progress of their student’s learning and modify their teaching content and methods on the needs of the students is a ‘penny dropping’ moment for me.  My preconception was that assessment was the formal assessment of student’s outputs based on assessment tasks (i.e. VCE).  For the teacher to ‘infer’ the students’ understanding of the content and their breadth of knowledge and then modify to improve this is a skill important in the improvement of teachers.

The on-going nature of assessment is in stark contrast to the periodic assessment task evaluation of a student’s outcomes which I originally believed.  I will take this important finding with me and adapt this to my planning and teaching strategies.




    III.            Record any useful resources you have found in your journal.


Northwest Evaluation Association (2015) ‘Assessments with Integrity How assessment can inform powerful instruction’ LINK


How to assess students and modify the teaching practices accordingly.
12 Awesome Formative Assessment Examples LINK Gives different activities that can be used to gauge a student’s progress without appearing as a ‘formal’ assessment.
56 different examples of formative assessment  LINK David Wees, a specialist in formative assessment, has developed a range of ideas and activities for
Assessment for Learning
Curriculum Corporation web-page LINK
Identifies assessment requirements for Australian state curricula





    IV.            What are the three most important ideas you have learnt about assessment in this section?

Grading Vs Assessment – grading places a value on the outcomes of the education (i.e. result of exams, assessment tasks etc.) whilst assessment is the understanding of a student’s progression, understanding and growth.  Grading takes place at specific intervals (i.e. at the end of the week, topic or semester) whilst assessment is a constant process whereby the growth and rate of growth is monitored and the skilled teacher adapts his or her program within the curriculum to best support the student in their learning.


Formative Assessment – monitor student learning.  Using formative assessment, teachers can work with students to BOTH identify strengths and weaknesses, develop plans in areas that need improvement, act quickly to minimise gaps in the learning.  This kind of assessment can be done informally and occurs during the learning.


Summative Assessment -evaluate student learning against specific criteria (e.g. tests, exams etc.).  Whilst these assessments can be used to develop strategies (e.g. such as in formative assessment) it is usually after the event, with the result fixed.  Summative assessment is usually formal and is completed after the learning.


      V.            Based on your learning about feedback, identify the three most important aspects of giving feedback to later years students.


Feedback helps clarify what we expect from our students.  It helps the students understand what we (or the curriculum) require from them and in turn produce better learning outcomes.

In regards to supplying feedback to students, it should be of high quality, not a quasi-marking system.  The comments made by Dylan William at the NWEA Conference (2012) that feedback should be like a medical, not a post-mortem really resonated with me.  Feedback (i.e. the ‘medical’ where it outlines components of learning and identifies areas of strengths and weakness) should provide ways to improve for all students – and this inspires and engages them toward further learning.


The return of assignments etc. is often an anxious moment for students.  It is an opportunity for teachers to provide honest and timely feedback but also a chance for the student to reflect and grow as a learner.  Watson (2013) suggests the feedback should be

Specific – as feedback is a tool for future change so identify the areas that need work.  Alternatively, identify the areas that worked well.  It is important to emphasise what could be done differently next time and highlighting only the most significant improvement to bring about the most important change, rather than brushing over a raft of small errors and omissions.

Actionable – emphasise what could be done differently next time (as opposed to the thing/s they did wrong this time) and offering how this could be done.

Timely – the most effective feedback is timely and frequent in that suggested improvements can be implemented before the next assigned task (where possible) has begun.

Respectful – looking for the good points while still focusing on future solutions.  Being less judgemental with feedback by replacing “You did not…” with “I did not understand…”


Acknowledging that there is a marked difference between ‘feedback’ and ‘advice’ and ‘evaluation’ (Wiggins, 2012) is important.  Feedback is information that a student can grow and learn from.  In the samples given, ‘advice’ is what to do or change without using a context which can lead to an unsupportive message.  The ‘evaluation’ is judgement of a poor/good/better outcome or an emotional response on its own.  Wiggins would like to dismiss the evaluation and grading within schools but concedes that it would be difficult to do this.  However, he does reiterate the benefits to both student and teacher in providing good feedback to enhance future learning opportunities.



5 Assessment for Learning Curriculum Corporation, (2008) Introduction to Assessment for Learning Retrieved from:


5 Carnegie Mellon University (1999) ‘TEACHING EXCELLENCE & EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION – Assess Teaching & Learning – Basics – Grading vs Assessment’  Retrieved from:
5 Department of Education & Training (Vic), 2013,  ‘Assessment Advice’ Retrieved from:
5 Department of Education & Training (Vic), 2013,  ‘Teacher Support Resources > Assessment and Reporting > Assessment Advice’ Retrieved from:
5 Global Digital Citizen Foundation (2016) ‘12 Awesome Formative Assessment Examples’ Retrieved from:
5 Northwest Evaluation Association (2015) ‘Assessments with Integrity How assessment can inform powerful instruction’ Retrieved from:
5 Watson, G (2013 Aug 30) ‘Characteristics of Good Student Feedback’ [Video File] Retrieved from:
5 Wees, D. (2012) ’56 different examples of formative assessment’ Retrieved from:
5 Wiggins, G.  (2012) ‘Seven Keys to Effective Feedback’ Feedback for Learning Volume 70 (Number 1) Pages 10-16 Retrieved from:
5 William, D. (2012 Dec 14) ‘NWEA – Partnering to help all kids learn. Unpacking Formative Assessment’ [Video File] Retrieved from:

Module 4 Teaching and learning strategies

        I.            What strategies for teaching later years students appeal to you? Why these ones – is it because of your preferred style of learning?


I see my strategy to incorporate enjoyment for students and teacher alike.  With students engaged in the class (i.e. not being distracted or bored), the learning experience is enriched for all.  Engaged students are less likely to have behaviour issues.  Enjoyment and engagement is a result of well-prepared classes, inclusion of humour/silliness/entertainment to exchange understanding and initiate learning exploration.  To appeal to the variety of learning styles within classes, I would incorporate a number of techniques that resonate with the students.


Ideas from:

Comparison Matrix

With the use of comparison matrix as it is commonly used in the workplace to record information to compare and contrast particular features or attributes of ideas, plans, items etc.  An example could include using a well-known music player such as iTunes where the song and selectable attributes appear in a table to include artist, album, year of production, length, song-writer etc.  The user can discount information that is not important or relevant for the task (e.g. may ‘hide’ unwanted fields such as ‘genre’, ‘beats per minute’ etc.).



To assess the transfer of a concept or information, taking time for the students to visualise and report what is happening/happened in a text or concept and produce an output will allow them to explore their own understanding.  Some will be able to re-tell in detail, others will be able to write, others might be able to draw a diagram or a combination of the above and this will reflect their learning experience.  Especially when deciphering texts and concepts this strategy will reflect not only the exchange of information, but the students’ understanding.


Graphic Thinking Organizers

This method is useful as it can incorporate what the students already know, what they need to know and the connections between related concepts.  To introduce this, I would refer later years students with nearly any crime/detective show on TV where the suspects and victims are depicted on a board and connections are made as to their relationship or discounting them.  This method could be used to demonstrate a familiar topic (e.g. character and plot map of a familiar story such as Three Little Pigs) and express this graphically.  Students may copy and annotate for their own record the organiser so as to shape the understanding for themselves.  There are a number of online tools (such as MindMap) to create electronic versions of this.



Make your own notes about these strategies and how you think you would be able to use them in your teaching.

Note Taking

Note taking is important as it summarises the information given in a lesson for future learning and assists in the revision of the lesson.  Obviously, not all information that is given in a lesson can be transcribed in a class (it changes the shape and focus of the lesson from a learning experience to one of dictation) so it needs to be structured as a prompt for further investigation or point to review resources.  There are a few different methods with some cross-over depending on the learning styles of the student (i.e. incorporating colour, font styles, diagrams etc.)

Outline method

This method helps students outline the main and sub-topics discussed in a classroom.  The hierarchy allows for important information to ‘appear’ so by being located in the ‘important’ section of the page (e.g. left-most side for main points).  This can easily be achieved with a program such as Word using the Heading Styles, tabs and bullet.

To introduce this, I would incorporate a story/topic the students were already familiar with (could be a nursery rhyme, or text previously studied).  Discussing the text in a group and producing a sample notes page on the whiteboard is a good idea.  Showing good note-taking techniques (i.e. keeping information in a context, structured and adhering to a hierarchy) will assist students develop their own note-taking skills in future.

Cornell method

The Cornell method is a way of arranging the notes page prompting action from the student to review and reflect as a way of improving the retention and comprehension of the class content.  This method is important for the ‘motivated’ learner – i.e. one who understands the importance of note-taking and revision/review for later assessment.   This is important for later years’ students as it prompts the further investigation.  Effective instruction of this method ensures the timely follow-up and completion of subsequent research to respond to the questions.

Mindmapping method

Designed around a central theme, the mind-mapping tool is a visual tool to demonstrate content.  This can appeal to visual learners with the break-down of complex ideas into sub-content and streams.  It shows the relationship of existing knowledge and puts this into a visual representation.  This can assist in the planning of essays and projects where ‘branches’ of the main idea can be discussed as sections, paragraphs, chapters etc. and marked when investigated, discussed or discounted as appropriate for the task.

Class Discussion

Where a class engages in conversation, there is an opportunity for the teacher to gauge the understanding, or at times misunderstanding, of the content.  Using well placed questions and prompts, the teacher can direct the discussion to where the known and unknown and other students may be able to assist others in their understanding and development of their own understanding and view.


Vocabulary is important as each subject area and content area has words, phrases and jargon that students will need to learn as part of their understanding of the learning.   As the student develops the understanding of not only the word, but its meaning and uses it appropriately this indicates a level of learning about the concepts and words within that topic.  Introducing key words to students is important as they can build their understanding through the important parts of a topic.  This enables assessment by a teacher through reflective tasks such as a class discussion (e.g. where the students discuss a text and call the characters by name) where they have adopted the words to assist in not only their understanding but explanation.


      II.            Read the following articles, noting points of interest and useful ideas you could incorporate in your teaching.


The first article has a focus on how to encourage a deep learning through three different approaches.  While the focus of the article is university students, parallels can easily be drawn with later years students.
What’s the difference between a deep approach, a surface approach and an achieving approach to learning?

Deep Intrinsically motivated; develop an understanding and create their own meaning; make links to previous knowledge and widen their knowledge-base; inspire a curiosity to explore further (life-long learning)


Encouraged by:  engaging the students’ previous knowledge and experiences; allowing students to decide aspects of the course (contents and assessments); providing feedback rather than a mark; engaging students’ minds with questioning techniques;

Surface Students learning to pass exams – learn just enough to get through the exam and purge the information; Use of memory and repetition of information;   “Is this going to be on the exam?” Turn off when information isn’t ‘needed’.

Extrinsically motivated

Achieving Competitiveness; challenge themselves by ‘training’ towards the exam/assessment through organising and allocating time to train/study; When used with deep learning, usually leads to subject success.


The next article looks at some strategies for developing deep learning.
Teaching practice – Promoting deep learning

The RMIT (2014) articles discuss points similar to other research (Lublin, 2003) whereby the teacher’s enthusiasm and questioning techniques can have a profound effect on the depth of learning for a student.  Applicable to later years students, where the students are generally interested in their subjects as they have chosen some or all of them, the options and decision-making about the direction of their learning is key in developing a deeper understanding – not surface learning to pass a final exam.  Motivation of students (Baeten, Kyndt, Struyven, & Dochy, 2010) and providing supportive environments for their learning is important for developing the deeper learning skills.


The third article discusses the value of questions in the thinking and learning process.
The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking and Learning

This article looks at the importance of delving into content, rather than just accepting that there is one answer for each question.  It discusses the importance of helping students develop an understanding through a teacher’s questioning techniques to provoke thought and further investigation.  The student then develops further meaning and organises the information to create meaning.


Read through the resources below, taking your own notes about each of the approaches as you go.

When High School Students Struggle with Textbook Reading.

This blog discusses the issue of how to read textbooks for meaning.  Importantly, it outlines how teachers can assist students who may not be familiar with reading textbooks and recommends strategies such as ‘chunking’ (where the teacher familiarises themselves with the content and focusses student attention on specific chapters or pages), ‘revision’ (develop activities in class where the students are able to use the information contained in the textbook in discussions with their classmates) and helping students to develop study skills to ensure they understand the content.  Pells (2016) recent article discusses the failure of UK university students to read textbooks with the academics posturing that the students don’t know how to prioritize information from textbooks whilst the student body blaming the assessment culture for this experience.  By helping our students in later years to develop skills to help prioritise and arrange information, we can assist their further learning skills for later in life.

All teachers are teachers of literacy and we cannot assume that all later years’ students have the skills to read for meaning. A search of the internet will reveal lots of resources which describe different stages of teaching reading. There is a great resource on the NSW BOSTES website for teachers, student and parents called Learning through reading and writing.

The resource describes four strategies for high school teachers to use to develop students’ reading and writing skills preparing for reading, detailed reading, note-making and joint construction. This process can be used for later years students as well.

To overcome issues in reading in later years students, NSW BOSTES has come up with a strategy consisting of:

1. Preparing for reading This step helps initiate curiosity by helping identify and prepare connections the student has with existing knowledge and understanding. It is recommended that the teacher discuss some to the key topics of the text so that students identify these at they read the text.


2. Detailed reading Identify key pieces of information (words or phrases) which can give extra meaning to the read text.  This might be to discuss or define these points within the class or further research for meaning.


3. Note-making. As this is a group activity, students are actively participating in the note making by writing notes on the board and/or copying this to their own workbooks.


4. Joint construction This is where the revised text is recorded providing for further understanding.  The professional teacher is to provide an appropriate level of scaffolding to ensure the information is sorted and utilised in a logical and useful manner.





    III.            Read the following articles, compiling a list of strategies you could use to encourage active listening in your students.


Strategies for encouraging active listening:

Practice – introduce to the students the idea of active listening and discuss how to develop these skills.  Students may not be aware of active listening as a concept and rely on a teacher’s experience to assist them with this important learning and skill (Taherkhani, 2011).Fun can be had in delivering ‘non-verbal’ communication and role-play this to identify how good listening body language is receptive compared to negative body language.

Environment – create a respectful listening environment by doing away with distractions and waiting until there is appropriate silence within the classroom before delivering speech.  Remove obstacles such as boredom through well-planned lessons.

Lead by example – use the skills of active listeners by modelling behaviours such as showing full attention to students when they are speaking, paraphrasing their questions and comments (this is a good tool when delivering to a classroom as all students may not have heard the content initially) and being sincere – i.e. responding without sarcasm etc.

Non-verbal signs – showing receptive body language such as smiling (or reflecting the mood of the content where appropriate – e.g. surprise, shock) and leaning slightly toward the speaker attentively.

Verbal signs – seeking clarification of points made during the speech, paraphrasing the question in a response, summarising the points made etc. (, 2016)



    IV.            Identify the key features of wait time that you could use in your teaching.


The concept of ‘Wait time’ enables the teacher to engage all thinkers in the classroom, not just the most extroverted or exuberant trying to please with the quickest and as evidence suggests, not always the best response to a question.  With wait time, there is an expectant pause in the usual humdrum of classroom activity and it focuses students’ minds on the question at hand.  Wait time encourages all students to contemplate their response and the deeper thinking students are given an opportunity to develop an answer in their own mind without the pressure of urgency from peers.

Whilst we have been socially engineered to reduce wait time in normal conversations, the use of wait time in the classroom allows for not only students to consider their response in the normal flow of a conversation, but a teaching using a pause before speaking demonstrates a level of deeper thinking – modelling good learning behaviour for the students (Ingram & Elliott, 2016)


      V.            Identify 3 active learning strategies you can use with later years students in your subject area. An internet search will give many subject specific examples.


activating prior knowledge

Explore the existing understanding of concepts prior to their introduction to the classroom with such questions as “What do you know about…?” or “When you hear the term (x), what does that mean to you?” to build a knowledge profile of the class and direct learning around this.  This is an opportunity to correct inaccurate or erroneous information before the ‘new’ information is approached for learning.


Chunking involves the break-up of large, complex concepts and workloads into manageable chunks –or to put it another way, ‘How would you eat an elephant? One bite at a time’.  This is a way to help students organise and priorities new and existing information for their learning.  Key points for primary learning can be identified in the initial ‘chunks’ and those of lower priority can be investigated at another time.


Building on the existing knowledge and experience of the student, elaborating helps create links between the new concepts and knowledge with that which the student already holds.  When introducing new content, the teacher guides the student through their existing, familiar knowledge and builds on this by comparing and contrasting the new information.

(Swiderski, 2011)



ACS Distance Education (2011) ‘Home > Info > Education > Trends & Opinions > Listening Skills’ Retrieved from:


Artze-Vega, I. (2012) ‘Active Listening: Seven Ways to Help Students Listen, Not Just Hear’ Retrieved from:


Baeten, Marlies, Kyndt, Eva, Struyven, Katrien, & Dochy, Filip. (2010). Using Student-Centred Learning Environments to Stimulate Deep Approaches to Learning: Factors Encouraging or Discouraging Their Effectiveness. Educational Research Review, 5(3), 243-260.
Bergmann, J., Sams, Aaron, & Ebsco. (2012). Flip your classroom reach every student in every class every day (1st ed.). Eugene, Or. : Alexandria, Va.: International Society for Technology in Education ; ASCD.
Bonk, C., & Graham, Charles R. (2005). The Handbook of Blended Learning Global Perspectives, Local Designs. Hoboken: Wiley.
Boyles, N. (2003). From sparse to specific: Teaching students to write quality answers to open-ended comprehension questions. New England Reading Association Journal, 39(2), 16-22.
Foundation for Critical Thinking (2013) The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking and Learning Retrieved from:
Ingram, J., & Elliott, V. (2016). A critical analysis of the role of wait time in classroom interactions and the effects on student and teacher interactional behaviours. Cambridge Journal of Education, 46(1), 37-53.
Lorcher, T. (2014) Make the Best of Class Time with Cornell Notes Retrieved from:
Lublin, J (2003) Centre for Teaching and Learning Good Practice in Teaching and Learning:  Deep, surface and strategic approaches to learning Retrieved from:
Munro, J, (2012) ‘Improving literacy in the secondary school : An information to knowledge innovation’ The University of Melbourne. Retrieved from:
NSW BOSTES (2014) ‘Learning through reading and writing: information for teachers and schools’ Retrieved from:
Pells, R. (2016 Apr 16), ‘University students are struggling to read entire books’ The Independent Retrieved from:
RMIT University (2014) Teaching practice – Promoting deep learning Retrieved from: (2016)  ‘Active Listening’ Retrieved from:


Swiderski, Suzanne M. (2011). Transforming Principles into Practice: Using Cognitive Active Learning Strategies in the High School Classroom. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 84(6), 239-243.
Taherkhani, R. (2011). Active and Passive Students’ Listening Strategies.Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2(3), 705-708.
Vander Ark, T. (2013.1) Leading for Deeper Learning: 10 Proven Strategies Retrieved from:
Vander Ark, T. (2013.2 ) Deeper Learning–Not Just for Honor Students Retrieved from: