"It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching."
Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene II.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Words to Burn, Ideas to Ignite - More from NZATE Conference

Workshop 2 – The English Senior Secondary Teaching and Learning Guidelines – Robyn Holding

Perhaps you have never heard of the SSTLG??  Neither had I until the other week when Robyn mentioned them on the English Online listserve. I decided I had better come to her workshop and find out what it’s all about. In the meantime I had a quick look at them on tki. You can find the English SSTLG on Te Kete Ipurangi here.

So now, here I am and Robyn says there is so much in the guidelines that it will make our heads spin….

Purpose of the Guidelines

Basically to tease out the relationship between the ‘front end’ of the NZ Curriculum document and the English Achievement Objectives – the why and how of what we teach in our English classrooms. 

According to Robyn, SSTLG will be really useful for staff teaching out of field or for overseas trained staff who are familiar with the ‘front end’ of the NZ Curriculum document or have a good knowledge of another Education system, but need to know what the NZC is going to look like in the English classroom, with some examples (snapshots).

Rationale for Studying English

How do we answer the student who asks, “Why do we study English, Miss?”

My answers are:
  • ·      We use English every day
  • ·      We talk about the big questions
  • ·      We want to tell our stories
  • ·      We learn about life from others’ stories
  • ·      It’s fun!

Our group’s final five:
  • ·      Understand the world – big ideas
  • ·      Experience new things safely
  • ·      Express our ideas, thoughts, feelings
  • ·      Develop communication and critical thinking skills
  • ·      It’s fun, magical!

Ideas from other groups:
  • ·      So we are not easily manipulated (not suckers!)
  • ·      To understand the relationship between medium and message
  • ·      To understand myself and my place in the world
  • ·      To broaden our horizons and therefore our tolerance of difference.
  • ·      To foster creativity, expression and joy.

  • ·      To develop competency in the world through understanding and using English.
  • ·      To develop compassion and understanding
  • ·      To develop a sense of identity and follow your own interests
  • ·      To develop critical thinking – in all areas of life
  • ·      To have a good laugh (or cry)

This exercise made clear why the nine people who did this for the SSTLG had trouble agreeing on the rationale which ended up in the guide!  You can find this here.

Key Concepts

Also in the SSTLG are the key concepts in English, identified by English lecturers and teachers around the country, (drumroll):

·      Identity
·      Communication
·      Story
·      Meaning

English Achievement Objectives – the Strands

There is also a really good diagram which tries to explain/portray/analyse and otherwise show the English strands – see here.  I am going to copy this and put it up in my classroom!


The most important section of the SSTLG is the section which focusses on pedagogy. This includes teacher stories  (snapshots) showing how they have done things in their teaching.  I can’t give you the link because we were seeing the beta version and it’s not up on the site yet. But it does look good.

Thanks, Robyn!

So I have an idea what the English SSTLG are all about now. I am thinking that:

·      They will be a great resource for HODs who need to support someone teaching in the English curriculum area for the first time;
·      They will be an excellent place to start for someone who was familiar with the old English in the NZ Curriculum document (the old ‘blue book’) but has been out of teaching for a while and needs to get up to speed with the changes implemented in the new NZC;
·      For existing English staff who have been living the implementation of NZC as it has happened, they will serve as a good reminder and resource, particularly for the Effective Pedagogy section (when it’s up) and teaching as inquiry. We could also be thinking about contributing our own learning stories and examples of pedagogy for the snapshots.

As an example of useful things spotted on the English SSTLG, here’s a PD resource you could use in your department meeting, showing the differences in progression in the Ideas aspect between Levels 6, 7 and 8 of the English curriculum, using Barack Obama’s ‘Yes, we can’  election victory speech.

Thanks, Robyn!

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