Motivating students to write poetry: Magnetic Poetry

Need ideas for engaging students to compose poetry? 

Do you remember when magnetic poetry was the craze? You’d visit a friend or relative and they would have magnetic words all over their refrigerator door which would be carefully arranged into poetry based on their feelings across the day or week. I wonder what happened to all those magnetic words?

Thankfully, you can still buy magnetic letter kits or alternatively make your own as well as a range of other options which I’ll outline below. The key consideration should be how we can use such resources in pedagogically sound ways to get students excited about writing poetry whilst also providing appropriate support. The benefit of using magnetic poetry is that it supports students to not only compose their own poetry but also provides the vocabulary which can sometimes be a stumbling block for getting started.

Dave Kapell, created Magnetic Poetry in the 1990s, when experiencing writer's block while trying to...

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Top 7 Ways to Pamper with Poetry

Sharing to Pamper with Poetry

As all students and teachers will have returned to classrooms in New South Wales today, poetry can be an option for ensuring both students and teachers are pampered as they re-engage in classrooms and with each other. In fact, poetry can be used to pamper anyone at any time, particularly in times of uncertainty and even trauma.

Across the week, multiple poems can be shared for sheer joy and reflection. I have put together my Top 7 collections and individual poems for sharing as students embrace the school environment, reflect on remote learning and share their hopes for the future. All poems are available online and can be shared with a range of age groups. As with any text, it is important to read the poems several times to ensure they are appropriate for your school and context before sharing with students.

1. Round and Round by John Kitching is a joyful poem to celebrate the joy of interacting in the school setting particularly...

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English K-2 Syllabus Draft 2 Feedback

Uncategorized Aug 20, 2021

Have you provided feedback on the second draft of the NSW English K-2 Syllabus?

The second draft of the English K-2 Syllabus is now available for consultation, however, responses are due by 23 August. It has been a very tight turn around period especially considering the Covid situation in NSW and the pressures on educators. Despite this, it is crucial that as many people respond as possible. The aim is to have this syllabus implemented next year. Although the second draft is an improvement on the first draft, there are still areas of concern.

To get you started Kathy Rushton and I have compiled a response. Please feel free to use any of the points to submit your own feedback to NESA.

The feedback form can be found on the NESA  site.


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Maintaining the Integrity of Teaching and Learning Programs in these Covid Times

How do I ensure my online teaching has key elements of effective pedagogy?

After talking to several teachers in recent weeks, I’ve been thinking about how the integrity of existing or designed teaching and learning programs can be maintained and transferred to the online learning environment as we learn to live in lockdowns. Effective teaching will always be effective teaching, but I guess it’s about unpacking elements of effective teaching and then thinking about how adjustments to pedagogy can ensure effective teaching occurs regardless of the mode.

To reflect on what constitutes effective teaching, we have numerous sources that outline what this looks like. In the past 20 years teachers have been given a myriad of tools and frameworks for reflecting on and designing learning. This has included the Quality Teaching Framework in NSW (Department of Education, 2008) and Productive Pedagogies in Queensland (Education Queensland, 2002) in the early-mid 2000s....

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Australian Curriculum Review Consultation

current topics Jul 01, 2021

Why should you provide feedback on the Australian Curriculum Review Consultation?

Time is running out to provide feedback on the Australian Curriculum Review with the closing date of 8 July fast approaching. Feedback is being sought on Learning Areas, General capabilities and Cross-curriculum priorities. You can find the survey and a range of resources to support your response on the Australian Curriculum Review page.

As many states have adapted the Australian Curriculum or developed their own syllabus documents, we may think responding to the Australian Curriculum review is not a priority, especially given how time poor teachers are currently. However, the Australian Curriculum 'outlines the core knowledge and skills to be taught to students from Foundation to Year 10, wherever they live in Australia' ACARA, 2021. This is worth remembering. Of key importance, is the development and refinement of state documents currently and the need to ensure they continue to align with...

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Tell Me Your Story Oral Language Focus

Reflection on Oral Language Strategies

Kathy Rushton and I have just completed Day 1 of the Tell Me Your Story course run through the NSW Teachers Federation Centre for Professional Learning. This was the first day of the three day course where we focused on speaking and listening by considering principles of second language learning as well as the mode continuum.

We looked at the role of the mode continuum (Derewianka, 2014 & Martin, 1985) and how spoken and written like language differ particularly in terms of lexical density. We then considered how choice and sequence of oral language activities supports not only the literacy of students but also builds their confidence and language. Careful design of oral language activities also values cultural identity and their identity as learners (Dutton, D'warte, Rossbridge, & Rushton, 2018).

All activities were done by the teachers in the course as they thought about the language demands and how they could meaningfully...

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NSW English K–2: Draft outcomes and content feedback

current topics Apr 23, 2021

Feedback on English K-2 Draft Outcomes and Content

Time is fast running out to provide your feedback on the NSW English and Mathematics K–2 draft outcomes. It is critical that we all respond as feedback will inform the development of these syllabuses, which will ultimately impact on classroom practices. 

Kathy Rushton and I have put together our own feedback on the English K–2: Draft outcomes and content. 

The NSW English K-2 Draft outcomes and content attempts to address the political discourse around “the basics” but its structure and isolation of skills, particularly in the area of reading, has the potential for detrimental implications within classrooms and for a diverse range of learners.

Please feel free to read more of our detailed response. It may be of use when preparing your own feedback. You can add your feedback to the online survey until 30 April. 

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Anzac Day Picture Books and Resources

Looking for books and ideas for Anzac Day?

Every year schools and communities commemorate Anzac Day on 25 April. One way to commemorate Anzac Day is through engaging with a range of literature. Before interacting with students, read books several times to decide if they are appropriate for their age and experiences. Consider how you might select a group of books and the sequence to read them in as some will provide background knowledge for other books. A carefully chosen selection may present different reactions to similar experiences or diversity of groups or individuals.

Take a look at this extensive list of picture books related to Anzac Day. Search your own collection or pass the list on to your librarian. I'm sure your librarian will locate available books. Alternatively, book shops currently have a range of these books at the moment, particularly those more recent publications.

Once you have selected a set of books to share with your students, explore these tips and...

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Assessment Resource No 3

assessment resources Apr 11, 2021

Developing subject matter when composing texts

Often when assessing student writing, observations are made around aspects such as punctuation, sentence structure, spelling and vocabulary. By considering how subject matter or field is represented in a text we can apply a meaningful lens to language choices made and develop or adapt teaching and learning based on need.

By looking at a student work sample,  through the lens of the field or subject matter, choices at the clause and group level can reveal much about student skills but also needs and consequently the design of teaching. These questions assist in talking about subject matter and guiding discussion about language choice and function:

Who or what participants might be involved in what occurs? (noun group)

What kinds of processes, happenings or activities might occur? (verb group)

What circumstances might surround the the activities? (adverbial)

Assessment Resource No 3 builds upon...

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Grammar and Teaching 16 March 2021

Grammar and Teaching Tuesdays 16 March - 15 June 

The next Grammar and Teaching course starts on Tuesday 16 March, 4-6pm through Zoom.

Grammar and Teaching has now been running for 20 years. Throughout this time many teachers have recognised the need to learn more about the grammatical features of texts. Familiarity with grammar is essential when using language for a range of purposes and supports students to develop reading and writing in all curriculum areas.

  • Explore those features of grammar necessary for students to master by the end of the middle years of schooling
  • Develop understandings of the grammatical concepts outlined in curriculum and  syllabus documents and in the writing component of NAPLAN
  • Define a pedagogy which includes the teaching of grammar in meaningful contexts relating to the subject matter of the curriculum

What you need to know:

  • 2 hours per week across 12 weeks
  • weekly readings
  • three tasks including a reading discussion, text analysis and...
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