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Known Knowns

 known knowns

The exams are over, the examiners' reports will have been published, 
many unknowns replaced by knowns… 
Join us on 26 February for another lively and professionally rewarding gathering of EAL, English, Literature and English Language teachers at Box Hill Town Hall for practical discussions about what we have learnt in 2017 - and to look forward to even greater success in 2018.

$295 including GST

Register here

26 February 2018

Conference Program

Session 1:  9.45am – 10.55am

Paul Carter1.1. Writing the VCE English Comparative Response – Approaches to Structure and Language. Paul Carter

The Unit 2 and Unit 4 Comparative Response task presents teaching and writing challenges distinct to the longstanding Text Response unit. Students need to demonstrate a clear grasp of the world of each text; at the same time, they need to adopt writing strategies that enable them to compare the texts concisely and fluently. This session will identify a range of teaching and writing strategies to help students best demonstrate their skills and understanding within the constraints of the task. Participants will also have the opportunity to share their own experiences and strategies in teaching Comparative Response writing.

Paul Carter is Head of English at Melbourne Girls College in Richmond. In addition to teaching Year 12 English and Literature, he has been a VCE English assessor for the past four years. He holds a PhD in Professional Writing from Deakin University and a Masters of Teaching from Melbourne University. His first novel, Eleven Seasons, won the Australian/Vogel’s Award in 2012. He is especially interested in developing strategies to enhance students’ analytical and creative writing skills.

Lindi Chiu1.2. Bridging EAL: Is it worth the investment? You bet it is! Lindi Chiu

Bridging EAL was introduced as a Unit 1 & 2 subject from 2016 which focuses on language development at the word, sentence and paragraphing levels. Has it been successful and does it effectively support EAL students at VCE level? Anecdotally, yes it does, but statistically we need more time and data to make the same claim. Theoretically, greater exposure and practice in the target language leads to improvement in linguistic competence, so it would be hard to deny that Bridging EAL does not have a place in the suite of secondary subjects available to EAL students.  In this session we will explore how this subject has both informed teaching practice in EAL classes and how it has also been tied to the specific outcomes outlined in the EAL Study Design from Units 1 though to 4, since the Study Design was introduced in 2016.

Lindi Chiu originally “fell into” education in the late 1980’s as a “walk in off the street” English teacher in Taiwan. The mid 1990’s led to the ownership of an English immersion kindergarten and several language schools in Taipei, Taiwan which closed prior to her return to Australia in 2008.  Since then, she has undertaken tertiary studies including CELTA, a Master of Education in TESOL and Post Graduate Diploma of Education (TESOL and Business) thereby underpinning her experience with theory. As the Head of EAL and ELICOS at The Knox School her teaching practice is now informed by this current knowledge and her experience.

Maree McMahon1.3. The 2017 Literature Exam – Reflections for Teaching. Maree McMahon

The VCAA Literature examination generated not a small amount of controversy as teachers across the state digested the conceptual and grammatical demands of the Section A: Literary Perspectives task as well as the selections presented for the enduring Section B: Close Analysis essay.  This session will offer you my reflections and recommendations on the nature of the examination and the implications of the 2017 paper for the teaching of VCE Literature.  My views are based on a wide array of Literature SAC and trial exam assessment for schools across all Victorian school sectors in 2017, my analysis of the VCAA paper and my careful consideration of the dialogue on the course to date.  I’ll address text selection, approaches to presenting Literature to young people, the place of theoretical and other academic readings and the nature and process of creating an informed, critical interpretation of a literary work.

Maree McMahon has been teaching VCE Literature since 2011 and tutoring the subject since 2012, alongside her ongoing work in VCE and Middle Years English.   As an external assessor for Literature and English, Maree has worked with a variety of secondary schools across Melbourne and regional Victoria as well as examining English for the VCAA and publishing student and teacher resources.  Her postgraduate research in 2012-13 reflects her ongoing interdisciplinary interest in the intersection of literature, history and philosophy. BA (Philosophy) (Hons. Literature)/ BSc (Physics) (Monash); Grad. Dip. Ed. (Monash).


Izzy Burke1.4. Big Brother is watching (your grammar): the language of reality television. Izzy Burke

The language of reality television such as Big Brother is often perceived as ‘rude’, ‘uncouth’ and ‘uncivilised’: the epitome of informal language. But how does this register differ from ordinary conversation? Surprisingly, the ‘uncouth’ nature of this register goes deeper than swearing, beers and “bum-dancing”: it is situated in morphology and syntax. 

Dr Isabelle Burke completed her PhD in Linguistics at Monash University in 2017, where she works as a teaching assistant. She completed her BA (Hons) in the Dean’s Scholars program at Monash University in 2013, obtaining the University Medal. Her research has been published in The Australian Journal of Linguistics. Her interests include conversational syntax, negation, relative clauses, and waiting for the next series of Game of Thrones.

Session 2:  11.05am – 12.15 pm

2.1. What we learned from teaching the new English course in 2017. Helen Billett

2017 was a big year. We introduced a whole new section into the course, but equally we modified another area. It’s worth reflecting on the changes to Analysing and Presenting Argument. In this session, we will discuss the ways in which we need to react to the experience of 2017 in order to improve outcomes for the class of 2018. How can we better focus our teaching of Analysing argument? What are the characteristics of a great response? How can we make the task explicit for our students? What does effective feedback look like? How can the oral enhance and focus this learning?

Helen Billett has been an English Teacher for 30 years. She is Head of Faculty at Woodleigh School. She has written English text books and study guides and has extensive experience with assessment including examination marking. Her Masters thesis was about introducing curriculum change in English Faculties. Like all of us she is currently reflecting on what we have learned introducing the new VCE course and is interested to explore ways to improve practice and student outcomes.


2.2. Reflections on the EAL course in 2017. Jacqueline MooreJacqueline Moore

What did we learn in 2017 and how can we best put that into effect this year and beyond? This session will look back on the first year of implementation for the new VCE EAL Study Design. It will consider the way teachers managed their school-based coursework and assessment and take a close look at the 2017 examination and chief examiner's report.

Jacqueline Moore has worked for almost 30 years as a teacher, education researcher and assessment expert. She has taught English/EAL and Humanities in Victoria and the Northern Territory. Jacqueline worked for over decade at ACER on projects such as the GAT and joined the VCAA in 2016 as the English Curriculum Manager. She recently completed a Master of Education for which the focus of her research thesis was the assessment of EAL writing.

Jason Jewell2.3. Free your students' thoughts - approaches to Passage Analysis in the VCE Literature course. Jason Jewell

This workshop will present some strategies I have used for many years to free my students' thoughts while approaching the often-feared passage analysis task on the Literature exam. Participants will engage in activities that help them provide their students with practical and interesting ways to confront passages from set texts and they will be able to implement these into their classrooms and build their own and their students' confidence in this skill. I will be using passages from current Year 12 Literature texts and from texts I use when introducing the skills involved in passage analysis in Units 1 and 2 Literature

Jason Jewell [BA (Hons.), Dip. Ed., MA (Appl. Ling)] is the Manager of English at McKinnon Secondary College, and has taught there for the past 17 years. He teaches, and has written textbooks and study materials for, VCE Units 1-4 English, EAL and Literature, and regularly lectures at VATE Student Revision Days as well as at universities and conferences. He has a passion for social justice and a love of art and literature, especially from the twentieth century. He travels widely and spends much time with family and friends.

LaurenGawne2.4. Emoji as the Face of Language Change: The Influence of Technology on English. Lauren Gawne

The internet is a providing an environment for some of the most creative innovation the English language has ever seen. This session explores the implications of internet English for language change, the formation of new group identities, and the most profound changes the relationship between speech and writing, as well as formal and informal language use. Bring along your favourite internet memes, chat messages and discussion forum posts.

Dr. Lauren Gawne is a David Myers Research Fellow at La Trobe University, her work focuses on grammar and gesture in Tibeto-Burman languages. She has also worked on internet English, particularly LOLspeak. Lauren runs the generalist linguistics website Superlinguo, co-host the podcast Lingthusiasm with Gretchen McCulloch and write ‘By Lingo’ a regular column for The Big Issue about the history of everyday words.

Session 3:  1.00pm – 2.10pm

Gretta Caruso3.1. New Texts for VCE Units 3 and 4 2018 & 2019. Greta Caruso and panel

Participants will be presented with a quick run though of new texts for 2018 and an exploration of new texts for 2019. Those who have taught Rear Window, In Cold Blood, After Darkness, Persepolis, House of Cards, Extinction or Stories We Tell will present their ideas about how they are going to approach these texts. Some perspectives on the new texts for 2019 will also be given by those who have read the texts. Considerations about: subject matter, difficulty, text type, cohort, and EAL  will be discussed. As always at BooBook conferences there is an emphasis on classroom activities and the practicalities of teaching. This will be a panel session. 

 Greta Caruso has worked in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors focusing mainly on English and Literacy. With extensive experience in state schools and independent schools, she has worked in a broad range of educational contexts.  Greta has spoken at international conferences on issues related to digital learning, which is one of her enduring passions. Greta is particularly interested in student collaboration as a means of building engagement in learning. She has worked with Torrens University to set up a world first school-based Masters in Education Innovation. Her experience and expertise in English as an Additional Language has led to teaching experience in Asia and Central America.

Lindi Chiu3.2. The Year 12 EAL Exam: What we have done, what we have learned and what we can do from here. Lindi Chiu

There is no doubt that leading up to the 2017 EAL Exam in its new format teachers were fraught with concerns over content, delivery and the resources needed to effectively deliver the course to our students. In hindsight, how have we fared? Whilst treading into an unknown space, did we rely on our theoretical understanding of second language acquisition and teaching methodology or did we simply “do our best” in the light of uncertainty? Reflecting on our practice during the year together with the 2017 Exam and the Examiner’s comments to come, what have we learned about ourselves as practitioners and about the course as a whole? Using these reflections to guide future planning and practice what can we do to offer our students the opportunity for greater success in EAL as they negotiate the requirements of Units 3 and 4?

Lindi Chiu originally “fell into” education in the late 1980’s as a “walk in off the street” English teacher in Taiwan. The mid 1990’s led to the ownership of an English immersion kindergarten and several language schools in Taipei, Taiwan which closed prior to her return to Australia in 2008.  Since then, she has undertaken tertiary studies including CELTA, a Master of Education in TESOL and Post Graduate Diploma of Education (TESOL and Business) thereby underpinning her experience with theory. As the Head of EAL and ELICOS at The Knox School her teaching practice is now informed by this current knowledge and her experience.

Peter Pidduck3.3. 'and the poetry he wrote was easy to understand'. Peter Pidduck

Poetry is a means of exploring emotional experience through the intellect and the intellect through emotional experience. The aim initially with teaching poetry is to encourage classes to be momentarily silent after reading a poem because students felt something even if they were not sure what that something was. How can that experience can be explored and articulated? Some suggested poetry pre VCE will be discussed and how it all culminates in preparation for Year 12.

Peter Pidduck has taught VCE English and Literature for many years now, and is currently teaching at Brighton Grammar School. While so much of his teaching is being squeezed through the lens of competitive study scores and league tables, he still believes that the teaching of literature matters beyond a bell curve. Peter urges students to recognise that to experience literature fully, there must be an awareness of the way words and their surrounding context interact, as only this can open the vicarious experiences that enrich and expand our narrow existence.

Louise Noonan Photo3.4. Introduction to English Language at Year 10. Louise Noonan

In this session I will provide an overview of the Year 10 Semester-based English Language course that we introduced at Balwyn High School in 2017. The course was planned with a focus on the concepts that are new to our students and we felt they needed a secure understanding of before deciding on their English pathway in VCE. For this session we will look at teaching grammar and sentence structure to Year 10s, as well as how to introduce analysing texts in the style of Section B – Analytical Commentary. We will also cover face needs, face threatening acts and the concept of identity.

Louise Noonan began teaching in the United Kingdom and taught Year 13 English Language at a school in North Manchester. Upon returning to Melbourne, she secured a VCE English Language teaching position at Balwyn High School in 2013. When she started teaching EL at Balwyn, they had only 18 students in Year 12 and 44 in Year 11. Since then the popularity of the subject has increased greatly, and they now have four classes in years 10, 11 and 12. With the year 10 course being introduced as a semester subject this year, Louise co-convened the planning of the course and taught the subject to two classes.

Session 4:  2.20pm – 3.30pm

4.1. Finding a place for English to shine. Louise Bourke

In an environment that is often focused on the important of STEM subjects, it can be difficult to find a place for English to shine. With the implementation of cross curricular capabilities in the Vic Curriculum, the English classroom is becoming more diverse in linking a range of skills to other curriculum areas and embedding learning traits. Speaking from a specialist school context, this workshop aims to look at the importance of connecting English to other learning areas and embedding capabilities in student learning. It is not simply about making English something else, but rather finding a balance between respect for English In its own right and giving it significance in a wider context. 

Louise Bourke has been teaching for over 20 years - the past 14 years as Head of Department. She has held positions of leadership in the Catholic, Independent and Government sectors. In addition, she has been a VCE English, Literature and GAT assessor and a member of English and Literature Text Advisory panels and English Exam setting panel. Louise has published English text guides for Cambridge University Press and is author of teaching guides for Text Publishing.  She is currently Head of English at the John Monash Science School where she teaches VCE English, Literature and English Language.

4.2. Ann HottaUnits 1 and 2 EAL – introduction to Units 3&4. Anne Hotta

How do EAL teachers interpret the English/EAL study design when designing a course for EAL Units 1 and 2? What opportunities are there to shape a course that is distinctly EAL, and purposefully prepares students for Units 3&4 EAL and the VCAA examination? Should Year 11 be a ‘rehearsal’ for Year 12 and how can this be best implemented to maximise potential, prevent boredom and take into account different teachers at each level, as well as those teaching both? Is Listening a disaster or the greatest boon to EAL teachers, yet?This workshop will consider a course outline and address these questions and more. 

Anne Hotta. After a long career in teaching English from Year 7 through to Year 12, I decided to concentrate on EAL five years ago and have been teaching Years 11 and 12 since this transition. I have always taught some EAL/ESL having spent many years in Japan. My experiences in teaching Japanese in Australia and being part of the LOTE faculty as well as the English faculty, and having a considerable affinity for Asian students, made a serious dedication to EAL a very good fit. Also, having served as an English co-ordinator has helped me understand both the differences and similarities in English and EAL, and how best we can do justice to both these courses and our students in our schools, especially if we are handling composite classes. I like the new course and found last year an invigorating experience.

Nathan Armstrong4.3. Year 10 Literature. Nathan Armstrong

Above all else, we want students to not only love reading but to see the study of Literature as central to their personal and social development and knowledge of the world around them. This workshop will look at ways that you can create and construct Literature courses for year 8-10 to help build great and engaging learning environments but also create a culture around the subject in schools and amongst students. The focus will be on text selection, including works in translation and from various time periods, and skills development, with a particular focus on how courses can be created to set students up for success in VCE Literature.

Nathan Armstrong has been teaching for the past 12 years and in that time he taught Year 12 VCE English, and Literature. He also teaches IB Literature and Theory of Knowledge. He has done extensive work using Project Zero’s thinking routines and his classroom was featured in Ron Richhart’s book ‘Creating Cultures of Thinking : The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools'.

A SeverinKate Burridge Photo4.4. What do “little Aussie Sticklers” value most? Kate Burridge and Allie Severin

The informal character of Australian culture is the usual explanation for the enthusiastic take-up of vernacular features in Australian English — a take-up that goes well beyond the kinds of colloquialisation noted in other varieties. But this laissez-faire attitude towards formal usage is completely out of whack with the rate at which Australians complain about the language — again this goes well beyond what we observe elsewhere. Our preliminary exploration of the complaint tradition downunder suggests that some language areas seem to hold more value for speakers and are more prone to attract criticism. Furthermore, opposition to nonstandard usage shows no age watershed among prescriptivists — whingeing Aussie sticklers are of all ages.

Kate Burridge is Professor of Linguistics in the School of Languages, Literature, Cultures and Linguistics (Monash University) and a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Her main areas of research are: grammatical change in Germanic languages, the Pennsylvania German spoken by Amish / Mennonite communities in North America, the notion of linguistic taboo and the structure and history of English. She is a regular presenter of language segments on radio and has been a panelist on ABC TV’s Can We Help. Her publications record is vast and includes Living Lingo and Love the Lingo, the go-to text books for VCE English Language.

Allie Severin is a PhD candidate at Monash University in the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics. Her general research interests include sociolinguistics and normative language behaviour. As part of her current research project, Allie is examining normative language behaviour found on the internet. Specifically, she is exploring how such behaviour manifests itself and what its social consequences are, especially when it falls outside our typical conceptions of the prescriptive/descriptive paradigm. She has worked as a specialist editor for Boobook’s VCE English Language materials, including Love the Lingo, Living Lingo, and Lingofile Student Workbook. She is also the current editor of the Crikey language blog, Fully Sic.

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