I have had time to explore two major resources to explore or consult when you need them. No, I’m not going to comment on either the dire situation for staff in our schools, COVID or the weather.
Viewing 2022 Literature Symposium:
The excellent online 2022 Literature Symposium advocating for the power and pleasure of literature in the development of our students’ literacy is underway. The series began on June 8 and will continue to the end of the academic year.
Each session is delivered by a different professional organisation, built around an aspect of working with literature.
The series is free, and you can sign up to receive notifications, or they are available online after each session.
These are available now:
- Why is Literature so Important in our Lives and Learning? presented by the Foundation for Learning and Literacy, with Joanne Rossbridge, Robyn Ewing, and Principal Kelly Booker. The Foundation’s motto is ‘Where learning matters’. That’ll do. https://foundationforlearningandliteracy.info/
- Read – Create – Succeed: Writers in Residence an inspiring session presented by WestWords, a strong and successful force for writing based in Western Sydney and chaired by Libby Gleeson. Libby introduces WestWords and describes their work. So many opportunities for writers.
- Drama, Literature and Literacy with Sydney Theatre Company’s Zoe Hogan and actors Kate Worsley and Tara Morice. STC has a comprehensive education program for teachers and students https://www.sydneytheatre.com.au/education Drama has an importance in our work in schools that no other activity can replicate.
The sessions are focused and free. All the details are on the website 2022 Literature Symposium
Still to come this term:
3 August 2022 – Australian Schools Libraries Association
17 August 2022 – Primary English Association Australia – Exploring climate fiction
31 August 2022 – Australia Reads
7 September 2022 – Australian Literacy Educators Association
14 September 2022 – ATESOL NT on behalf of the Australian Council of TESOL Associations
21 September 2022 – Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation
2022 Donald Graves Address at the ALEA Conference in Darwin early this month.
The address was presented by Alan J. Wright, who has generously shared the text.
Wright describes his delight in discovering the work of Donald Graves in the 1980s. Graves took the control of writing out of teachers’ hands and put it firmly into the hands of student writers. The power of this is true today.
The challenge for all of us who teach writing is to create and sustain the conditions that support a child’s urge to write.
Prior to this change in emphasis, writing in the classroom was done with the teacher having control over the time and duration of the writing, the topic, and the judgement of the writing, which usually consisted of a mark out of 10, or a vacuous comment such as ‘Good work’. All writing relied ‘entirely on the teacher’s decisions’ (Wright, 2022).
The current situation
In our so-called experts’ eagerness to reduce the development of literacy skills in our students to a list of overt behaviours that can be statistically analysed, the control of writing is once again out of the hands of the writer. Writing is reduced to the production of controlled and formulaic pieces, following a rigid format with an outsider’s perspective on effectiveness.
We need to be on our guard to ensure that writing assessment is not reduced to the matching of the writing to pre-set controls over surface features and structures. If the ACARA NAPLAN writing criteria drive our teaching, our ‘young writers exist on a writing diet of one dishonest piece after another, merely to meet curriculum requirements.’ (Wright, 2022).
Graves’ work changed the focus of writing in classrooms.
I strongly recommend reading Alan J. Wright’s entire address.