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What’s ‘culturally relevant pedagogy’ (CRP)?

pedagogy-194930_960_720In current multicultural educational contexts there is an imperative to develop frameworks for addressing cultural diversity in the classroom (Burridge, Buchanan & Chodkiewicz, 2009). Superficial multicultural education perpetuates stereotypes, maintains the imbalance of power and characterises a school culture dominated by white middle class values. Alternatively culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) engages and motivates students. Culturally relevant pedagogy supports learning as “a socially mediated process… related to students’ cultural experiences” (Irvine, 2010, p 58). Schools are institutions in which cultural norms generally match mainstream values and assumptions. Students from culturally diverse backgrounds with differing cultural values can experience alienation, low self-esteem, hostility and potentially education failure.

Culturally relevant pedagogy is a term that describes effective teaching in culturally diverse classrooms, with some teachers finding it challenging and intimidating to implement into their programming and classroom practices. Culturally relevant teaching embeds various representations of knowledge that are connected to students’ home and community, in classroom practice. In order to deliver competent cross-cultural content, teachers need to enable each student to link their own cultural background and experiences to the content of the course (Irvine, 2010).

Many teachers have only a cursory understanding of culturally relevant pedagogy, and their efforts to bridge the cultural gap often fall short (Barnes, 2006), however teachers who are committed to social justice and equity in education realise that it is critical to “teach in culturally relevant ways that take into consideration how all students experience the curriculum (Lopez, 2011, p. 75). Culturally relevant pedagogy centres the experiences and culture of diverse students to increase academic achievement and school engagement, built on the understanding that learning is culturally situated.

In addition culturally relevant pedagogy promotes cross-cultural learning, providing broader student populations with knowledge and understanding about the experiences of others. Intercultural understanding, the tolerance of difference and empathy are the foundations for social justice and global citizenship (Lopez, 2010). It is also critical to build strong interpersonal understandings and meaningful relationships between teachers and students and peers.

With the number of immigrants in Australia remaining steady at 190,000 per year between 2012 and 2015 (Phillips & Simon-Davies, 2016), the need for defining and delivering high quality educational experiences for the children of immigrant families is only going to increase. Pedagogical approaches that support cultural diversity, incorporate cultural strengths, include family and community and build classroom cultures that are holistic, empathic and tolerant of difference, work towards achieving social justice and ensuring that all students are engaged in learning.

~ SF

References

Burridge, N. Buchanan, J. & Chodkiewicz, A. (2009): Dealing with difference: Building culturally responsive classrooms, Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Journal, (1, (3) pp. 68-83).

Irvine, J. (2010). Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Teaching Tolerance: Retrieved from http://www.teachingtolerance.org

Lopez, A. (2011). Culturally relevant pedagogy and critical literacy in diverse English classrooms: A case study of a secondary English teacher’s activism and agency: English

Teaching: Practice and Critique: (10 (4) pp. 75-93). Phillips, J. & Simon-Davies, J. (2016). Migration to Australia since Federation: a guide to the statistics. Retrieved fromhttp://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary

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What does it mean to be ‘other in schools?

To be ‘other’ in schools entails being treated or viewed as intrinsically different or alien to the broader student population. Ethnocentrism is a consequence of European colonialism within which the emphasis remains on assimilation (Hickling-Hudson, 2005). For refugee, immigrant and Indigenous students this often means compromising ethnic and racial identity. Low expectation associated with racial and ethnic status, conveys a double standard – “which defines academic learning in school as acting white” and assumes that students from diverse background are incapable of achieving academic success unless they relinquish their identity. diversity

Fordham and Ogbu (1986) describe an experience of a young man of African-American decent whose teacher refused to believe he was capable of high quality academic work. As a result he was humiliated, discouraged and became progressively disengaged in schooling. This demonstrates how teachers’ inherent racism and inclination towards stereotyping, effectively limiting the educational possibilities and life chances for that young man (Fordham & Ogbu, 1996). In addition the teacher promoted a classroom culture of exclusion where difference is alien and difference is to be feared. Eurocentric education systems “function according to the cultural capital of the middle class and the elite… not all students acquire middle class cultural capital [and] school is not equal to all students” (Izaguirre, 2015, p. 890).

Marginalisation creates distinct power imbalance that significantly disadvantages students outside the prevailing ‘white’ culture. The process of ‘othering’ creates sociocultural inequalities which limit the capacity of marginalised young people to achieve quality educational outcomes, to develop self-worth and self-efficacy and fail to create cohesive and inclusive learning environments.

To provide equitable educational opportunities for students despite their status as ‘other’ is one of the most significant challenges in education today. Creating sustainably equitable and inclusive educational environments, requires the practices and structures of schools, teacher attitudes, practices and responses to diversity, to embrace cultural, ethnic and racial difference (Dyson, Ainscow, West & Goldrick, 2013). The inclusion of diverse cultural perspective into programming and curriculum will also provide opportunities for students from white middle class backgrounds to learn about values and beliefs of other cultures. This in turn develops in these students the capability to understand the commonalities between themselves and students from cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds, as well as the differences.

The status of being regarded as ‘other’ in schools may have fundamental and long reaching ramifications for refugee, immigrant and Indigenous students. Socio-emotional safety and sense of belonging are vital for the wellbeing of these students and for their successful immersion in education and in Australian society. It is critical to achieve this while supporting the values and beliefs that constitute the individual and cultural identities of these students. The importance of embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in curriculum to support the socio-emotional and cultural safety of Indigenous in Australia is also clearly recognised within the National Australian curriculum (ACARA, 2013).

~ SF

Reference
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], (2016). Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/

Dyson, A & Ainscow, M & West, M & Goldrick, S, (2013). Developing Equitable Education Systems, Manchester UK: Published Taylor and Francis

Fordham, S. and Ogbu, J. (1986). ‘Black Students’ School Success: Coping With the “Burden of ‘Acting White”: Urban Review. (18, (3), pp 176-206).

Hickling-Hudson, A. (2005). White Ethnic and Indigenous: Pre – service – Teachers Reflect on Discourses of Ethnicity in Australian Culture: Policy Futures in Education. (3, (4), pp 340-358).

Lzaguirre, L. (2015). When the ‘Others’ Come to School: A Marginalization Framework in Multicultural Education: Sociology Compass: (10 (4) pp 887–896).

NSW Department of Education and Communities, (2009). Aboriginal Education and Training Policy, Sydney, NSW. Retrieved from https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/students/access_equity/aborig_edu/aetp_intro.pdf

Multicultural Education

Student-Body-DiversityAs a student in the public school system in the late 1990s, I attended school in a small coastal town in NSW. From memory the vast majority of students were from Anglo-Saxon middle class background, and do not remember any form of cultural diversity or ‘difference’ being incorporated into classroom practices or the curriculum until I attended high school.

In high school there was also a small population of indigenous students and an even smaller population of Muslim students, who brought with them cultural and linguistic diversity. The school did it’s best to embrace cultural heritage. Diversity was somewhat incorporated into the curriculum, and the classroom as I remember, was a place of equal opportunity. I have always felt that my teachers encouraged their students equally amongst cultural or linguistic difference.
Personal expression amongst students was encouraged through dance, writing, arts and drama, placing emphasis on individualism, difference and diversity. Students were encouraged to work in groups and class discussions slowly became a regular moving towards progressive ideas and the acceptance of others regardless of racial and cultural difference.

Occasionally there were other individuals who also provided ‘racial’, cultural difference, though these were mainly students who were attending exchange programs from overseas for periods at a time. The school did it’s best to incorporate traditional cultural practices to help these students feel welcomed and for other students to understand where these students had come from, and what some of their cultural practices are.
Teaching diversity is often considered a difficult task among teachers because of the sensitivity of the topic. The main difficulty in teaching about differences, however, is the fear and anticipation behind the effort.

If I were a teacher in a classroom where there existed racial, cultural or linguistic ‘difference’ amongst the students, I would teach students to be forthcoming about their differences, developing a balanced educational experience for all students. I would incorporate enriched cultural content drawing on students’ diverse experience into the curriculum and pedagogy. This would show students there is no shame in being different. A teacher who is sensitive to cultural differences can bring tremendous value to the classroom. They are more likely to understand that every student does not have the same background and learning style. Bringing cultural diversity into the classroom enhances the learning opportunity of the entire class.

The teacher also must realise that some students have not been exposed to people who are from different backgrounds and cultures. They may not be sure how to respond to someone who speaks differently. There may be some assumptions about the student’s knowledge level because they cannot speak English clearly or perhaps have a different learning style to others. This offers a great teaching opportunity, providing material for class discussions on the dangers of stereotyping people, the role of the media as it relates to culture and understanding people on an individual basis. Additionally a culturally and ethnically diverse classroom better prepares students for a future globalised workforce.

What have immigration, racism and multiculturalism got to do with teaching?

Australia is a multicultural society, being one of the most ethnically diverse nations in the world. Multicultural education commenced in 1972 and from the 1980s formal ESL content was incorporated into the curriculum (Hill & Allen, 2004). Indigenous education has also enjoyed a renewed focus in relation to policy and practice (Education Council [Australia], 2015). Despite these changes, indigenous and ethnically diverse student populations continue to underachieve as opposed to their mainstream counterparts (Nieto & Bode, 2008). As a teacher this means I will not only face culturally, ethnically and racially diverse classrooms, but will need to contribute to creating “a richer and more productive school climate and a deeper awareness of the role of culture and language in learning” (Nieto & Bode, 2008, p. 43).

Multicultural education has multiple foci including: cross cultural understanding; culturally responsive teaching and learning; and an approach to multicultural education which enables “individual to participate competently in a multicultural society” (Ogbu, 1992, p. 6). According to the Department of Education’s NSW (2015) Multicultural Education Policy, key objectives for effective multicultural education must: incorporate programs and practices that support student wellbeing, counter racism and other forms of discrimination and facilitate school harmony; promote intercultural understanding and acceptance of linguistic and religious differences; provide differentiated curriculum and opportunities to enhance the English language and literacy skills; and establish strong community connections.

Similarly recognising students’ linguistic, religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds, demonstrates a unified commitment to building cultural competence and emphasising an approach to relevant learning. According to the Aboriginal Education Policy (Department of Education NSW, 2009), schooling in Australia is committed to; improving educational outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; increasing in the knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal Australia; and strengthening connections with Indigenous communities, making them part of decision making process.

Teaching diverse student groups requires appropriate pedagogy and curriculum to create a culturally rich and inclusive classroom environment. Providing opportunities for immigrant, refugee and Indigenous students to retain their culture of origin, and still be successful within an educational system that traditionally values western knowledge and ways of being.

Making connections to new school and broader comminutes is essential for the wellbeing of immigrant and refugee youth (Correa-Velez, Gifford & Barnett, 2010). A sense of belonging whilst maintaining a strong cultural and racial identity is critical for successful engagement in education (Sidhu & Taylor, 2007). To support the social and emotional wellbeing of all students including immigrant, refugee, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, teachers need to create an inclusive classroom culture that teaches understanding and knowledge of other cultures where diversity is embraced and empathic understanding of difference are highly valued (Nieto & Bode, 2008; Pearce, 2005). Acknowledging the cultural heritage, cultural backgrounds and practices of diverse students and responding to a variety of educational experiences, where some students have missed significant amounts of schooling, is a vital component for assisting these students towards more productive lives in Australia.

The connection between immigration, racism, multiculturalism and teaching is clear. Education and teaching play a crucial role in supporting health and wellbeing and educational outcomes of diverse student populations (Correa-Velez, Gifford & Barnett, 2010; Sidhu & Taylor, 2007). With the increasing student diversity in Australian classrooms, it is imperative to ensure successful educational outcomes for refugee, immigrant and Indigenous student populations. It is necessary that teachers themselves have access to professional development opportunities to become culturally competent, to counter racism and discrimination in schools and deliver culturally rich teaching experience for all students.

~ SF

References

Correa-Velez, I., Gifford, S. M., Barnett, A. (2010). ‘Longing to belong’, Social inclusion and wellbeing among youth with refugee backgrounds in the first three years in Melbourne, Australia. Social Science and Medicine, (71(8), pp. 1399-1408).

Hill, B. & Allan, R. (2004)), ‘Multicultural education in Australia’, in J. Banks & C. A.

Mcgee Banks, Jossey-Bass, (eds.). Handbook of research on multicultural education, (2nd ed), (pp. 979-996). San Francisco, CA.

Nieto, Sonia, Bode, Patty. (2008), ‘Multicultural Education and School Reform’ In: Affirming diversity: The sociopolitical context of multicultural education: Sonia Nieto,

Patty Bode. (5th ed), Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, (2008, (3), pp. 42-62)

NSW Department of Education and Communities, (2005). Multicultural education policy: Sydney, NSW. Retrieved from https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/students

NSW Department of Education & Communities, (2005). Anti-racism policy. Sydney, NSW. Retrieved from: https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/student_serv/equity/antiracism

NSW Department of Education & Communities, (2009). Aboriginal Education and Training Policy, Sydney, NSW. Retrieved from
https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/students/access_equity/aborig_edu/aetp_intro.pdf

Ogbu, J. (1992). Understanding Cultural Diversity and Learning. Educational Researcher, (21, (8), 5-24). Availability: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176697

Pearce, S. (2005). The Teacher as the Problem, In YOU wouldn’t understand: White teachers in multi-ethnic classrooms, Trentham Books, (2005, (2), pp. 29-51).

Sidhu, R. & Taylor, Sandra C. (2007) Educational provision for refugee youth in Australia:left to chance?. Journal of Sociology, (43(3) 283-300).

Piaget’s Four Stages of Cognitive Development

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is based on the adaptation of different schemes. Piaget believed that through constructivism and structuralism, children’s intellectual development is located through their own activity and in cooperation with their own understanding of how things operate in the world that these schemes are modified to adjust to the new experiences.This theory is supported by three processes which collaborate to work in unison. These include assimilation, accommodation and equilibration. Each involves different ways of acquiring and processing new information:

Two specific orientations: Constructivism and Structuralism – Piaget believes that all children are born with internal mental structures and these structures are modified through experience. We could say Structuralism would come first as we are born with these internal mental structures and then we are active constructors of meaning, so we construct meaning from the activities we engage in and experiences in our world.

From there we have our processes of change: Adaptation and equilibration. Children’s mental structures change as a result of their interactions with their world, the ability to adapt to new experiences is considered by Piaget as the most important aspect of children’s functioning. 2795457-article-piagets-stages-of-cognitive-development-5a95c43aa9d4f900370bf112First Assimilation: the first process we use when confronted by a new experience, we try to fit the new information into our existing structures. Accommodation: the changes we need to make to our thinking to accommodate the new information. This is important in moving children’s thinking forward because it means having to modify our thinking structures. Equilibration: This occurs when Accommodation and assimilation are equally balanced. Disequilibration: this state is important as it can be seen to drive our learning Disequilibration is uncomfortable so it therefore motivates us to make sense of our new experience

Assimilation is based on prior knowledge and experiences assimilation is the process of altering new information in order to fit them into existing schemes. This also involves functional assimilation as this includes the ability to mentally utilise the newly acquired information.

Accommodation involves the adjusting of the newly assimilated information in order to accommodate an understanding of the new knowledge and then successfully modify existing schemes to allow for this information.

Equilibration is central to the developmental change as it refers to the procedure whereby assimilation and accommodation are balanced. This involves the process where ideas match experiences. Equilibration is an important stage; however disequilibration motivates and challenges individuals to more clearly understand new experiences and therefore promotes individual learning.

Piaget concluded that there were four stages of cognitive development in children. The first is the Sensorimotor Stage, which occurs from birth to two years. The preoperational Stage is second, and occurs in children aged two to seven years. The Concrete Operational Stage occurs in children seven to twelve, with adolescents going through the Formal Operational Stage, from age eleven to fifthteen.

Sensorimotor – Birth – Two years

This is the first stage of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. The sensory motor stage is centred on the bases of a ‘Schema’ which is a mental representations triggered by stimuli helping the child make sense of the world.

In this stage children are considered ego-centric, meaning that they cannot yet consider the needs and wants of others. This is the stage where children do not understand ‘Object Permanence, for example if their vision of something is blocked they believe it has disappeared. Such as a game of peek-a-boo.

Preoperational – Two – Seven years

In this stage children start to develop their vocabulary and are still considered ego-centric, although children gradually start to decentre as their conception of the world changes. Animism occurs in this stage where children assume that everything and everyone else are like themselves, for example they assume inanimate objects have feelings and can be hurt like them.

This aspect of the pre-operational stage is moral realism , where the child’s believes that their way of thinking about the difference between right and wrong are shared by others.

Concrete Operational – Seven – Twelve years

In this stage children become more rational and mature, as they develop a deeper understanding of their world. Children at this stage are able to develop logical thought about an object and be able to manipulate it. Animism and ego-centricism decline in this stage and children use operational thought, eg. imagining the ‘what if?’children in this stage can also start to develop an understanding of the idea of reversibility, where things can be done and undone.

Formal Operational – Twelve – Fifthteen years

This is the final stage of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, although all people may not attain this final level of formal thinking. It may be the case that particular people achieve higher level of thinking in specific area. In this stage children can use symbols related to abstract concepts. Children in this stage use their logic to understand complex ideas including relationships and justice.
table-47.1

 Contribution Post 3 – Concept Map

 

Enjoy! SF

Reference,
Vialle, W., Lysaght, P. & Verenikina, I. Psychology for Educators. South Melbourne: Cengage Australia.

 

My Personal Teaching Philosophy

Throughout my learning journey, I have developed a few philosophical beliefs regardinglearning, and the importance of quality teaching. philosophy3

Firstly, I believe our children are the future, because each child has the potential to bring something unique and special to the world. Therefore in my classroom, I will encourage enthusiasm and active participation amongst my students, as I scaffold the development of necessary skills and knowledge, particularly in relation to inquiry and decision-making that will help prepare them for life as lifelong learners.

Secondly, I believe each child is a unique individual, who needs a secure, caring and stimulating learning environment in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically and socially. Children are unique because they gain their understanding of the social world and their place in it from what they experience. If adults respond to a child frequently with warm, caring and respectful interactions, the child will build an image of themselves as someone who is cared about, who has worthwhile ideas and who is interesting to others. Therefor in my classroom, I will create a stimulating learning environment that reflective and rich in culture, identifying families and the wider community.

Thirdly, I believe that education is the foundation for success and is a lifelong learning process. As an educator I want to make a difference in education and help students strive to achieve where they want to be headed in life. Therefore in my classroom I will be the type of teacher that motivates, inspires and encourages my students to ask questions, make mistakes, receive feedback and be the best that they can be.

~ SF

A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Your Child Write a Story

Taking those first steps towards writing a story can be both a fun and a challenging activity for your child. By planning and writing a story, children learn to put their thoughts into order and use written language to communicate their ideas in a variety of ways. drawn-book-story-book-14

Finding ideas and inspiration for writing a story can be tricky for both children and adults alike. Helping your child structure their story from beginning to end is a great way to make the writing process a whole lot easier.

Step 1: Think of an idea
A good place to start is by reading a book together. Stop and ask your child to make predictions about how the story might end. Your child’s alternative ending may become great material for a new and original story. You can also write stories based on real-life experiences, such as your child’s first day of school, an adventure in the park, or losing their first tooth.

Step 2: Create a character and a setting
Ask your child to create a character and a setting. Will their main character be a child, an adult, or even an animal? Will the story be set in the local park, a different country, or even outer space? Let your child’s imagination run wild and avoid being critical or adding your own creative flair to their ideas.

Step 3: The Beginning
All good children’s stories have a beginning, middle and an end. Ask your child to expand on their original story idea and set the opening scene. What’s special or different about their main character? Maybe it’s a cat who enjoys taking baths, a superhero who can’t fly, or a princess who lives in a cave!
Step 4: The Conflict
A story with no conflict can be rather dull. Help your child understand the concept of conflict in a story by revisiting some of their best-loved books. Explain to them when a conflict arises and encourage them to create one for their own story. They can even introduce a new character to shake things up!

Step 5: The Turning Point
The turning point is usually in the middle of the story, and helps to make a story more interesting. It can be a eureka moment, a time where a character discovers a hidden superpower, or a surprise that throws the whole story into a spin. Ask your child to think of something that the reader would least expect. It doesn’t always have to make sense – this is your child’s time to unleash their imagination!

Step 6: The Resolution
A good story doesn’t finish without a final resolution. Ask your child how the conflict in their story pans out. Challenge them to link the conflict with the turning point to create a meaningful resolution.

Step 7: The End
A satisfying ending is the perfect way to finish a story. What happened to the characters once their conflict became resolved? Were they able to finally achieve something, or did they learn an important lesson as a result?

The storyboard template below is designed to help children break the story into sections giving them a better understanding of story sequencing.

creating-a-storyboard

Reading Eggs is the comprehensive online reading website that teaches children aged 3-13 essential early reading skills. Reading Eggs includes the Story Factory which gives children a step-by-step guide to writing a story.

~ SF

Teaching Literacy in 21St Century Australia

The teaching of literacy in 21st century Australia is a complex undertaking for primary teachers.

The selected texts provide an overview of the complex 21stcenturyreadingundertaking of teaching literacy in the 21st century, drawing on a wide range of perspectives, theories and research addressing the topic. Collectively the texts provide specific examples of how to teach 21st century literacy in the new age classroom and what it means to be literate when considering 21st century learning. Research into this area places emphasis on the importance of understanding that improved literacy outcomes for all students are best accomplished in a supportive and stimulating language environment. When considering literacy education in the 21st century it is useful to draw on elements of from all perspectives and theories to identify literacy challenges that students may face as they move through their schooling years, to better support literacy development and assist students with their academic needs.

Department of Education and Training. (1999). Curriculum Support Directorate. Focus on
Literacy, Spelling (18-25) NSW, Australia.

This document is of significant relevance to all teachers, in all subject areas from
Kindergarten to Year 12, as it seeks to recognise the importance of learning to spell, as it is a lifelong learning process. The document provides a brief overview of the foundations of modern day literacy, giving the reader a clear and concise understanding of the systematic fundamentals of spelling and the purpose of language development. It incorporates strategies on how teachers can effectively guide students, and scaffold their learning needs by outlining the importance of providing learning experiences that enable students to acquire and apply the skills and understandings of spelling in both reading and writing. Spelling is a system which integrates phonetics and morphemic patterns to produce meaning in writing.

Understanding such patterns enables the writer to spell words with predictable sound-letter relationships. When considering 21st century learning, it is important that teachers understand that improved literacy outcomes for all students are best accomplished in a supportive and stimulating language environment, where there is integration of reading, writing, talking and listening with critical thinking. This document is useful as it outlines the importance of teaching spelling in the 21st century, giving a clear and concise understanding of the phonological, visual, morphemic and etymological aspects of spelling that are significate to each student’s stage of development. The document gives specific examples of how to teach spelling in the classroom and how to plan and implement programs effectively. This document provides a detailed model on the systematic works of spelling, and strategies on how to cater for the spelling needs of diverse learners.

Derewianka, B. (2015). The contribution of genre theory to literacy education in Australia. In Turbill, J., Barton, G., & Brock, C. (Eds.) Teaching writing in today’s classrooms: Looking back to look forward (69-86). Norwood, SA: Australian Literacy Educators’ Association.

Derewianka outlines in this chapter how genre theory has contributed to literacy education in Australia. She has provided a brief overview of the utilisation of genre theory in Australian classrooms over the last few decades. She suggests that the genre theory has helped teachers transition from a ‘traditionalist’ teacher centred approach of teaching to a more progressive and student centred one. Implementation of the genre theory also allows room for the consideration of the diverse learning needs for all students within a classroom by making learning meaningful. She believes that this is achievable through incorporating a variety of different genres into the classroom and ensuring that the social context in which they are explored is meaningful for the students in order to foster quality learning.

Derewianka provides a strong analysis of the genre theory and gives practical examples of how it could be incorporated into the classroom. She supports her argument with a variety of reputable educational theorists supporting the inclusion of genre based structures within the classroom context. When considering literacy education in the 21st century it is useful to draw on elements of the genre theory to identify literacy challenges that students may face as they move through their schooling years. The genre theory can aid teachers in the lesson planning and implementation of reading and writing programs, supporting literacy development and assisting students with their academic needs.

Hill, S. & Launder, N. (2010), Oral language and beginning to read. Australian Journal of
Language and Literacy, 33(3), 240-254.

This journal article examines in detail the links between phonological awareness and
children’s ability to learn to read and write. It includes a collaborative teacher-research study directed towards children in their first year of school, examining the way children utilise language when exposed to play-based education. Research indicated that not all children come into the first years of schooling with the same knowledge of language and vocabulary skills as each other. This can be another reason why teaching literacy is challenging. Students come from all different social, emotional, cultural backgrounds and so will all have different vocabularies when entering the classroom for the first time.

Research suggests that it is helpful for teachers to use play based intervention to help students understand the different uses of language. The example that the article provides in the conclusion is that if students are pretending to be a teacher that language will be different to their own. If they are pretending to be a monster the language will be different again. So helping students to understand the different forms of language can help them understand how to read and write. So this research can be useful to teachers because it provides them with research and suggestions on how to use different strategies in this classroom to help beginning students understand the links between oral language, reading and writing. It is interesting that this article focuses on the changing structures within the teaching of literacy, with particular emphasis and consideration for students form diverse backgrounds. For teachers this is critical in 21st century learning, with increasing numbers of children with English as an additional language in the classroom.

McDonald, L. (2013) A Literature companion for Teachers. Newtown, NSW: Primary
English Teaching Association Australia.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide teachers with an understanding of the different
genres of literary texts that students have access to in the classroom. McDonald suggests that teachers should provide students with a wide range of literary experiences in all genres so that they have a rich understanding of different text type conventions and their place within literacy education. She suggests that this is essential in all aspects of schooling, but is especially crucial when students compose original work. McDonald provides a detailed description of the different genres, their conventions, and provides purposeful educational tasks that could be used to create authentic learning with literary texts in the classroom.

The information that McDonald provides about the usefulness of incorporating different
genres in the classroom is beneficial for teachers, as a shallow introduction to each genre. It is limited however, in providing a detailed analysis of why incorporating different genres would benefit learners in the classroom setting. Although, McDonald states that students benefit from a diverse range of literature, there are no supported theories within the chapter discussing how these can be applied within the classroom to scaffold learning opportunities. There is also a lack of consideration for the inherent culturally and socially diverse classroom that is prevalent in 21st century learning.

Oakley. G, & Fellowes. J. (2016). A Closer Look at Spelling in the Primary Classroom.
Newtown NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia.

In this book Oakley and Fellowes examine the foundations, theories and strategies that
teachers use to assist their students’ spelling development in the classroom. Their research demonstrates that spelling does not develop through writing and reading, and nor is it obtained through the repetitious learning of words. In order for children to learn how to spell, they need to learn how to deliberately utilise learning, in terms of developing strategies and knowledge.

Children need to learn how the spelling framework functions and how to make generalisations and this is best done when integrated with the instructing of phonological mindfulness, phonics, word study, vocabulary, writing and reading. Furthermore, it is a visual action that includes the setting down and recovery of visual representations of words and word parts in the memory, encouraging the learning of vocabulary and reading. Research in this book is supported by the vast teaching experience of both authors, and is validated by a variety of reputable scholars in the field of education. When considering education in the 21st century the ideas that these authors have presented in regards to spelling acquisition is beneficial for teachers because they can apply it to their classroom practice.

In 21st century learning, it is important for children to develop an understanding that great spelling is a social desire and a method for clear correspondence. Good spelling is frequently viewed as an indicator of an individual’s knowledge and scholarly capacity. When teachers put this theory into practice within the classroom it will provide students with the necessary skills needed to promote quality learning.

In conclusion, the teaching of literacy in 21st century Australia is a complex undertaking for primary teachers as each child’s learning capabilities are different. The research has shown many different theories and viewpoints suggesting that teachers need to understand the basic fundamentals of the English language, as well as providing students with authentic learning experiences that enable them to acquire and apply fundamental skills and understandings of literacy in both reading and writing. The fundamental principles within the five texts are clearly explained and well organised, strongly supported by well-developed research, and well adapted theories strengthened by relevant examples, and clear communication on each element of the written text.

~ SF