I have cause today to be trawling through the glossary in the new Queensland senior English syllabus, and these two terms caught my eye:
Making a note here, to remind me I have these terms in place to talk with senior English teachers about project based learning.
A re-tweet set from my feed to capture some 2018 ideas and intentions. Welcome back to work muggles!
Prescribed Text Lists have been created for the first time in Queensland year 12 English, to specify texts for study that have been deemed to have “merit in genre and style”. The lists have this week been made available to the public, after a week of being available to only QLD teachers and QCAA approved users (a contrast to how NSW HSC lists were released earlier this year to media in advance of teachers).
There are two texts lists for:
These lists correspond with syllabuses for the three ‘general’ (i.e. leading to an ATAR) courses. The syllabuses were finalised this year for use starting with with year 11 in 2019:
I recorded my initial responses to the text lists in this vlog, with more analysis to come in the next few weeks:
NB. Extension English syllabus and text list are on a later development round and yet to be finalised. Essential English is an ‘applied’ (non-ATAR) subject, and will not have an associated text prescriptions list.
This semester I am attempting to demonstrate project based learning (PBL) in action by giving both of my classes an extra-curricular project to work on.
(More about whether these projects are in-or-extra to ‘the curriculum’ in an upcoming post…)
Pre-service teachers in my 3rd year English curriculum studies class are themselves focusing on how to use a PBL approach to design learning for junior secondary English. Their final assignment involves working in groups of 3-4 to create a PBL unit of work and assessment task/criteria sheets.
So, while we are learning about PBL, we are also doing PBL. And here is the project flyer:
We’re in Week 6 of a 9-week semester, and I already know that exploring ‘ways of speaking poetry’ is going to get squeezed out. That’s OK. My original goal of using the explore phase to offer a ‘smorgasbord’ of experiences has been usurped by getting to know the students and their needs – and they need to spend time going deeper into ways of reading and writing poetry. That’s cool – one of the things I am proud to model for my PSTs is they way plans have to change once real humans are involved. This need to teach in a responsive, agile way is understandably one of the things that new teachers find confronting, but ultimately it’s what effective teaching requires.
I’m at that critical stage of the project where I’m looking at the number of lessons left vs work that needs to get done to complete the project – eek!
My original plan was to get enough poetry artefacts to fill an entire display cabinet, but thankfully the cabinet has SHELVES, so our new goal is to fill 1-2 shelves only. Not a bad result it turns out, as it gives me space to run this project again next year and fill the cabinet progressively instead of all at once.
The whole project is supposed to take 6 weeks. By the second week I wished I had twice as much time! But that’s how teaching rolls, eh – PBL or no.
Will post pics of the finished cabinet display at the end of semester 🙂
Times are changing for senior assessment here in Queensland, and senior English has been radically re-written.
To catch you up if you’re just tuning in to this, some notable changes for English in QLD are:
- Reduction of summative assessment in Year 12 from 6 tasks to 4 tasks.
- The 4 tasks in Year 12 are all worth 25% each, and one of them is an external exam.
- There are five courses in the English suite: English, EAL, Essential English (replacing ‘English Communication’), and Literature (a new course in QLD). The fifth course English and Literature Extension, as well as the ‘applied’ subject Essential English, are still in draft.
- The external exam for English and Literature courses will be a single ‘analytical essay’ responding to unseen questions on their chosen text.
- Abolition of the existing Queensland Core Skills Test (the current method for scaling and moderating in-school subject rankings).
- We’re getting a prescribed text list (this is big news)!
The status and relationship of the five English courses is seen in Figure 1 of the English syllabus:
There are a couple of things I think the Queensland design has captured that make it an improvement on the HSC design I am familiar with from NSW.
For starters, the external exam is only one essay (not 2 x 2 hour papers), and it’s only worth 25% of the final grade. My hope is that reducing the weight of the external exam will see Queensland take up fewer exam-driven practices and less anxiety for students.
The next area that is a win is the retention of our work-and-community English course – now called Essential English – as an ‘applied’ course. Unfortunately the equivalent ‘English Studies’ course in NSW has been made ATAR eligible, which based on historical trends will see an over-enrolment in that course.
But wow there are some things that I miss about HSC English.
- I miss the way each module has a clear direction for the work – it’s a close study, a conceptual study, or a comparative study etc.
- I miss being able to choose what my internal assessments will be and how much weight they’ll have.
- I miss the terminology of ‘related texts’ and the sense that something has to be studied in a certain amount of depth to count as a core/prescribed text.
- I miss Macbeth and To Kill A Mockingbird being mostly left alone for junior English.
- I miss ‘persuasive’ being uncoupled from ‘speech’.
- I miss mandatory inclusion of multimodal assessment.
Watching both states redevelop senior English at the same time has been eye-opening. Lots of comparison work to come.