Participatory Action Research at St Francis Xavier

Teachers at St Francis Xavier have created learning opportunites for their students where they are engaging critically and effectively in a multimodal world. As part of the contemporary literacies they are developing culturally relevant and valued literate practices. Some examples of this are illustrated in the prezi presentation where students have created book trailers using iMovie. As part of their inquiry learning students are expected to create and interact with print, non-print and multimodal texts. These expectations and criteria are outlined for studnets in ther Design Brief and Literacy contracts. This community of learners (teachers and students) are using contemporary tools to take action within their inquiry units of work and articulate their thinking, reflections and learning as part of literature circles. The staff and students at St Francis invite you to offer comments.

Allowing Ourselves to be Seen…

The Ted Talk by Dr Brene Brown on vulnerability has many connection to Collaborative Literacy Learning Communities and our life as educators. In her talk Dr Brown uses terms words such as – vulnerability, connections, compassion, courage, authenticity, worthiness, joy, creativity and belonging. Every time I view this talk it makes me laugh but also recognise the complexitites in our work but recently I have made quite a few links to the 3 powerful ideas underpinning CLLC. As we engage in the 3 powerful ideas we also embrace vulnerability and allow ourselves to be seen. In the CLLC project we encourage you to:

  • Show courage by telling your story
  •  Show compassion by being kind to yourself and believe that we are all worthy and able to contribute
  •  Make connections as a result of authenticity as it gives us purpose

In our professional learning communities we make connections and let ourselves be seen, we develop our sense of worthiness and collaborate with others. As we undertake participatory action research we collect stories and share these stories. Dr Brene Brown also tells us that allowing ourselves to live with such vulnerability also allows us to experience joy, creativity and belonging. Schools presenting their work CLLC work are not only letting themsleves be seen (vulnerable), but are also sharing their experience of joy, their creativity and sense of belonging.

One way to think about our work in CLLCis that it requires us to be involved Head work, Field work, Relational work and Text work (Erica McWilliam, 2009). I ask you to reflect on the school presentations today and consider the type of work they have been involved in.

  • Head work – what they have had to think about…
  • Field work – what they have had do…
  • Relational work – their collaboration, communication, negotiation…
  • Text work – what they have created to share knowledge…

In the CLLC project what work have you been involved in?

Contemporary Literacies

An understanding of language ‘not as a set of rules, but as a “resource” for ‘meaning potential’ (Halliday, 1978: 192).

It is through my engagement in social media, and in particular, blogs that I have discovered some wonderful examples of classroom practice by innovative and passionate teachers. Blogs can be a source of information about different curriculum areas; they can be reflective, informative and educational. Blogging is one way to reflect on new experiences, new learning, new ideas and issues that matter to you. This virtual space creates opportunities to connect with other educators with similar interests, questions and thoughts.
Reflections and knowledge shared through blogging contributes to the social capital of the learning community.

For these reasons, I am writing this post to offer some of my thoughts and ideas about Contemporary Literacies and to also share some of the wonderful classroom practices that I have come across. I invite the CLLC teachers to reflect on Contemporary Literacies, explore some of the practices shared in this post and consider your own learning and how your reflections can impact on your participatory action research and student learning.

It has been emphasised in the Australian English curriculum that texts provide the means for communication. Texts can be written, spoken or multimodal, and in print or digital form. It is expected that students no longer use words alone
when writing; but are effective in communicating across a range of modes, including linguistic, visual, spatial, gestural and audio. Multimodal authoring is about our students creating meaning through the combination of a number of modes. As teachers we need to build our own understandings about what students need to know to create meaning through multimodal texts. We need to find a shared way to talk about these multimodal resources, provide our students with models of effective texts as well as learning opportunities where such texts are deconstructed.

Developing our students’ skills, knowledge and understandings required to communicate and engage effectively in a multimodal world offesr them greater choice in how they use the language resources available. The Contemporary Learning Schema can stimulate dialogue around our thinking.

Take your time to explore the links below and consider how the learning opportunities contribute to:

  •  developing culturally relevant and valued literate practices
  • creating and interacting with print, non-print and multimodal texts
  • engaging critically and effectively in a multimodal world
  • communicating appropriately in a range of social contexts

You might like to also consider:

  1. how are these examples also developing student core knowledge, skills and understanding about contemporary literacies and
  2. the opportunities for explicit, scaffolded and personalised learning

Please use the ‘Connect Extend Challenge’ (A routine for connecting new ideas to prior knowledge) to record your thinking.

Blog Posts on Inquiry Learning and Contemporary Literacies

The following blog posts engage students in authentic learning (senior primary classrooms). These examples illustrate how the learning drives the technology. All three posts are about students engaging in inquiry units of work. As part of an inquiry unit on the environmental conditions that affect plant growth the following post was written describing how students are  moving their learning into the 21st century through an inquiry unit . Enabling global connections is very important at this school and tools such as voicethread are used to enable students to learn more about their geographical neighbours by talking to them. Ongoing work on geographical neighbours these year 6 students continued to engage in a number of rigorous learning opportunites such asskyping‘ that not only enabled them to further develop their understandings of the countries around them but also develop a global perspective.

Langwitches Blog – Blogging

This blog is by an international educator who is passionate about globally connected learning, 21st Century skills and literacies as well as digital storytelling. This site has an enormous amount of resources for supporting teachers. I have chosen this blog because there are many posts on learning about blogs FOR your students. In one particular post Silvia explains how commenting is a great introduction to student writing for blogs provides and provides examples for getting started. This blog has numerous resources on blogging including a great example of a  blogging rubric. The rubric could generate some interesting and focused discussion with students.

Secondary Science blog – Technoscience

A Maths and Science teacher at Hawkesdale P12 College (Britt Gow) uses technology and virtual spaces with her students.  The blog is used to engage students in learning tasks, outline the learning intentions and tasks. The students are expected to communicate ideas, findings and solutions to problems using scientific language and representations using digital technologies as appropriate.

Picture Book – The Island

The Island by Armin Greder is a fabulous picture book and is fantastic for starting discussions for themes such as refugees, racism and multiculturalism. The story takes place on an island where one morning the people of the island find a man sitting on the shore. When he saw them coming towards him, he rose to his feet but he was not like them. The visual images are incredibly powerful. For this task I thought it would be interesting to explore and reflect on this text using a visible thinking activity called  colour, symbol & image. This thinking routine invites readers of the text to represent or capture their thinking using colour, symbol and image. What are the possibilites with such an activity with thought provoking texts?

When reading texts as teachers we often ask students to share their understandings, connections and reflections. A popular tool used by teachers where there are many options for students to share their learning and thoughts are Glogsters. Students create interactive online posters that can be shared.

I look forward to reading your comments on this post.


Scaffolded learning through Blooms

This post was published by Anne-Marie Flanagan on 30 August 2011.

I started the Year with a group of students who relied heavily on me as the provider of all the answers and they were reluctant to take risks with their own learning. Until the introduction of CLLC I had not been big on change or risk taking however since the introduction of specific PLT’s my own practice within the classroom was placed under a microscope and I was able to see a change was necessary for me as well as the children in my class, in order to move forward. Last years class were very open to change and were willing to journey with me on a new way to explore the area of Inquiry learning through literacy. We had built up a level of trust and collaborative learning,we were all on the journey together as learners.

Through my inquiry unit I wanted to ensure the children became independent learners.I was transparent with the curriculum expectations ie VELs, this initiated discussion and collaboration on where their learning would go.Through personal reflection this required an equal voice and the ability for the children to take ownership of their own learning. This came about through the development of the learning pyramid,through professional learning I sourced an article based on Blooms taxonomy (Self directed learning: A pathway to creativity in Learning Matters Vol 15 No 1 2010). As a level we decided to trial this within our classrooms and report back to the PLT at the end of term. The PLT discussions challenged our thinking and challenged our practices within our classrooms as well  our personal learning and teaching. My class and I underwent a significant shift in thinking. Whilst I was aware of the children’s individual styles of learning I was not aware of how to apply this to classroom practice.

Through on going negotiation with my students they are now at a point where they take ownership for developing effective and varied tasks around Blooms taxonomy, in order to develop a deeper understanding and knowledge within their Inquiry Unit.

The following example from our Inquiry Unit on Endangered Species  is a pyramid created by one student on Pandas. At the evaluating level this student chose to create a text where he would recommend 5 ways we can save Pandas (as shown in the 2nd work sample).















Here are some of my students WOW moments:

  • “Get more done this way -steps-planner”   Hayley
  • “Funner – get to pick what we learn”   Melanie
  • “Get to learn from other people”     Monika
  • “I like the fact we have a say”    Kelsey
  • “I learn things better because it is explained better”   Izabel
  • “It is more inspiring”   Joesat
  • “…explore different ways of presenting”    Dylan