Unpacking the Year 10 and now Year 11 English curriculum in Australia is challenging and something I wish I’d done earlier in my career. Yes, we must know our primary curriculum and early secondary (to a point) but pulling apart these higher levels is interesting.
Angela Stockman has given me some excellent advice and even though I’ve been unpacking curriculum for many years, these standards are complex. Her advice is breaking the standards into learning targets that can be taught in one lesson and can be understood by teacher and student. This is essential to develop Learner Agency. Each standard has multiple targets and as my time with Mark is short, I need to maximise learning.
Whilst putting this continuum together, I’ve been working with Mark on punctuation. Steve Peha recommended we do the Punctuation Inquiry activity in Be a Better Writer.
‘Punctuation Inquiry helps you learn how marks are used. Once you’ve read through a passage and figured out the punctuation, figure out why it’s there.’ Steve Peha
Steve uses a simple chart with three headings:
Example- Why It’s Used- Questions & Comments.
Mark and I focussed on capitalisation. We read through the example and discussed the use of capitals. He describes looking closely at a text as close reading. This is a quick activity and can be done daily on 75-100 words a day. What an excellent launch activity.
Next we looked at Punctuation Reading. The background Steve gives for this is that ‘most of us aren’t fully aware of punctuation when we read.’
We read the passage in Be a Better Writer and then we read the passage again with the punctuation noted in words e.g. new paragraph, indent, capital on a dark capital December night in 1776 comma…
This short paragraph contained 48 marks of punctuation, ten different types of punctuation and fifteen uses of punctuation which are explained in the book.
Steve states that this activity helps you ‘learn the names of the marks’ and ‘helps you develop a sense for how they’re used in published writing.’ Another great launch activity for the classroom.
Mark is reading Triage by Scott Anderson for English. He decided that writing a chapter summary would help him to analyse the text. Summarising the first chapter was excellent, because the first chapter sets the scene, introduces the characters and emotions and plot.
Mark wrote a well thought out paragraph. It was clearly presented, double line spaced and did not require rewriting! The punctuation was in place, placed for meaning and his spelling has greatly improved. I’ve called this his ‘awareness phase’.
I also love the dedication page in Be a Better Writer.
‘Use it to talk to your students about what matters most in writing. Use it to show them the writer you are so they’ll have a model for the writers they’ll become.’ Steve Peha