Teachers are legally required to deliver the Australian Curriculum to our students, in some States this is through syllabus documents. The Australian Curriculum website includes support pages of content, achievement standards, and examples of student work. Each State or Territory also provides support material particular to that context; many are accessible online.
Teachers can have confidence in these materials. They provide a strong basis for teaching.
The bank of resources that a teacher can draw on – the syllabus, training, school texts, literacy and other resources, literature, factual texts, strategies, procedures, etc. all sit behind the teacher as s/he implements the teaching and learning cycle according to student need. The teacher accesses appropriate resources, determined by observation and assessment, according to school/system priorities.
This is what it looks like:
The relationships between the teacher and each student builds over a school year of careful teaching and rich learning. Hattie & Yates (2014) described the benefits of positive teacher-student relationships as being persistent and profound, and appear to follow positive escalation patterns (2014 p. 21). That compounding effect contributes to the class culture.
However, that relationship between the teacher and the students can be interfered with. Resources can insert themselves as an ostensibly ‘expert’ package, suitable for any teacher and any students. These assert a disconnected authority and credibility, and diminish that of the teacher. The complexity of the teaching/learning process can become simplistic, script-like, rather than addressing the learning needs of students. This model has significant currency, particularly when commerce is involved.
The new relationship becomes:
‘Resources’ that are designed to sit between the teacher and the students are an uncomfortable fit for a skilled teacher and a class of highly individual students. Every teacher knows that the teaching and learning process is far more complex than can be put into a ‘one size fits all’ package.
How can we recognise an effective resource that will meet the needs of both teachers and students, and not become a constriction on effective teacher practice?
What to look for in an effective resource
Content must be accurate and consistent. It must be aligned with both the Australian Curriculum, and State or Territory education requirements. In NSW, the study of grammar is described as attending to both structure (form) and meaning (function). (BOSTES 2012 p.136). Resources must adequately address this.
Accessibility usually means there is a clear structure and language; it is the most effective method of presenting the content. Issues may include the need for supplementary resources, or extensive photocopying of worksheets.
Accessibility also means that online and print content is available for the wide diversity of audience. Guidelines are at https://guides.service.gov.au/content-guide/accessibility-inclusivity/.
Resources need to be able to be integrated into current planning. A format that can be edited is often useful for ease of adaptation. If extensive change to your own planning is required, reconsider. There should also be some guidance for teachers.
The efficiency of a resource should be clear at the outset. We do not have time for extra hours of analysis to find out how to use the resource, to determine whether it will be appropriate and valuable, or what the pitfalls might be. It should not be cluttered with unnecessary ‘noise’.
A resource must be clearly curriculum-related, and its content an obvious component of the broader subject. Cross-curriculum links and connections to other learning should be apparent. It should allow for development.
Credible author credentials, background research and references for further investigation should be included. The best resources are those developed by experienced educators who have used or are using the resource in the field. We must remain on guard against the simplistic solution – promises of making teaching and/or learning ‘easy’, or saving hours of preparation/planning/recording/etc, deny the complexity of our professional role.
Adapted from Hessey 2016
No. 1 ‘go to’ site for digital resources is the Education Services Australia’s National Digital Learning Resources Network (NDLRN),
- jointly owned by all Australian school education authorities
- manages and distributes digital resources to these
- 16,000+ digital resources; ‘Scootle’
- free for Australian schools
- teacher access through education department portals
- English: Sequence of content, English: Sequence of achievement, and Glossary, all accessible through https://australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/english/?strand=Language&strand=Literature&strand=Literacy&capability=ignore&priority=ignore&elaborations=true
- Victorian Department of Education has information and support
The following have extensive units of work and resources to support teachers K-6:
- Primary English Teachers Association Australia (PETAA) – good for working with Children’s Book Council prizewinners
- Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) – their Practical Literacy magazine has great ideas from teachers in classrooms
- Education Services Australia (ESA)
Multimedia resources are available from the Australian Children’s Television Foundation
One of the most reliable methods of accessing resources is through trusted teacher colleagues. We have extensive expertise around us. Ask how a resource was developed and how it went, and if you can use it yourself. Collaborate on taking ideas further, and offer something in exchange. This acknowledges the expertise of skilled practitioners who, like us, are always looking for the best in learning outcomes for students.
Reviews of resources
Teachers can subscribe to the NSW Department of Education’s ‘Scan’ online journal.
The searchable database of resource reviews provides teachers with reviews of picture books, fiction, nonfiction, websites and apps … .
Resources are sourced from interstate sites and the UK, and range from Foundation/K to Stage 6. The search engine is pretty good too.
ACARA (2012) Australian Curriculum at https://australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/learning-areas/
BOSTES 2012 NSW English Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum Vol 1 K-6
Educational Services Australia National Digital Learning Resources Network (NDLRN), at https://ndlrn.edu.au/about/about_landing_page.html Accessed 28/09/2019
Hattie, J. & Yates, G. (2014) Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn Abingdon Oxon: Routledge
Hessey, S. (2016) What makes a good teaching resource? At https://eic.rsc.org/opinion/what-makes-a-good-teaching-resource/2010166.article by Stephen Hessey 11 APRIL 2016 accessed 24/9/2019
NSW Department of Education: Scan online journal for educators at https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/professional-learning/scan