Texts in the City from the Wheeler Centre

The Wheeler Centre is an institution that is dedicated to the discussion of reading and writing. Based in Melbourne, the centre hosts a number of excellent events and panels related to reading. A regular event at the Wheeler Centre is the Texts in the City series which explores texts from the Victorian upper secondary (VCE) English reading lists. Many of the novels or plays discussed, such as The Quiet American or The Crucible, are being studied in other states as well. You can view or download all of the Texts in the City talks here.

One excellent aspect of these discussions is that they provide students with original and varied perspectives about a text. In senior levels when detailed text studies are being completed there can often be a level of fatigue that sets in amongst the students. Hearing the text discussed by fresh voices with new views helps to avoid this common problem. The talks would be perfect for a revision or homework task.

The Texts in the City recordings also provide a great example of how teachers might record their own video discussions or podcasts about texts. With relatively easy to use video and audio recording devices now available (even a mobile phone will do) there is an opportunity for teachers to record their own discussions about a text, which could then be shared across a whole year level and many classes. Check out free tools like Audacity or the YouTube Video Editor for some simple tools that can be used to edit together audio or video.

To keep up to date with the Texts in the City series and any other events you can follow  The Wheeler Centre on Twitter, or subscibe to the video and audio podcasts using the links below.

Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre Video Podcast

Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre Audio Podcast

VCE faces axe for national education certificate

An interesting article in today’s Herald Sun:

Laurie Nowell and Stephen Drill, August 30, 2009 12:00am

 VICTORIA’S VCE is set to be replaced by a national education certificate as schools move to an Australia-wide curriculum for years 11 and 12.

A paper created by the newly formed Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority and obtained by the Sunday Herald Sun reveals the transition to new national subjects and standards.

It reveals all state and federal education ministers have now made a commitment to introduce a kindergarten-to-year 12 national curriculum. Until now, a national curriculum has been planned only up to year 10.

Victorian Education Minister Bronwyn Pike yesterday said: “It’s inevitable that we move towards a national certificate.”

The plan will be discussed at a meeting of education ministers in Brisbane on September 28.

The move will spark controversy. Many teachers, educators and business groups support the scheme, saying it will help universities compare like with like.

But others say the move to what is expected to be called the “Australian Certificate of Education” will create a “homogenised” education system in which Victorian students are no longer taught about events such as John Batman’s settlement of Melbourne.

And they are outraged that Australian History is to be dumped as a separate subject.

Another concern is that, during the transition period, students studying state-based year 10 courses will not be prepared for year 11 national curriculum courses.

ACARA chairman Prof Barry McGaw said details of the year 11 and 12 national curriculum in the four core areas were being drafted and were due to come on stream in 2012.

He said a fully fledged “Australian School Certificate” could come after that.

“We have looked at the best curricula around the world. We believe we will be able to deliver a world-class system,” he said.

ACARA has been created as an education super-body.

It is a statutory authority of the Federal Parliament with powers to oversee curricula, assessment and the recently announced reporting on schools.

Under the plan, initially the year 11 and 12 national curriculum will apply to English, Maths, Science and History, but plans are in progress to extend it to other subjects.

Maths teacher and educational consultant Russell Boyle said the senior national curriculum was “a step in the right direction”.

“If students all around the country are to compete on an equal basis, then they should not only be doing the same curriculum, but be assessed in the same way,” he said.

But critics say the national curriculum will “dumb down” some subjects.

“You will have English students being able to avoid any kind of study of literature at all,” said former English teacher and business education consultant Angus Creasy.

Victorian Education Minister Bronwyn Pike confirmed the ACARA paper was a first step towards a national certificate. 

Feature wiki – Casey Grammar School

Casey Grammar School Head of Secondary School Teaching and Learning and teacher librarian Julie Squires has developed a very useful wiki for her year 11 English class.

Wiki homepage
Wiki homepage
Julie explains, ‘Although I created the wiki specifically for my class, I made it public so that any English teacher and/or student can use it. I am introducing my students to the wiki slowly; they need to complete their VCE profiles via the wiki and I want them to get used to doing homework online. I want the students to take responsibility for their own learning. I am encouraging them to use tools such as Essay map and bubbl.us to plan their essays online. Students can contribute to the ‘Reading/responding resource bank’ so that others can see what their classmates are doing. I really hope it becomes a collaborative effort between them as often students don’t realise what their classmates are writing and thinking. It’s not cool to share too much in class, so hopefully this way they can experience the power of learning collaboratively.’
Useful online resources

Useful online resources

Julie continues, ‘And by giving them links to useful resources, like Glogster and Ergo, I am helping them find resources they would not necessarily come across themselves.’

Congratulations to Julie for her great ideas, creativity and for sharing her wonderful wiki with us. Julie really is a leader in her field! If you have a moment, check out her ning, a place for Victorian teacher librarians to meet and share.