I hope this week’s edition finds you well.
The International Literacy Assocation (ILA) is an organisation that I would encourage all educators to be a member of. Its membership base has more than 300,000 people across 128 countries. It always sets high standards for the content it puts out, which is important to me.
As part of my subscription, I receive a quarterly magazine, and each edition has a particular focus. In the October – December 2021 quarter the focus was on writing.
Brian Kissel was the guest editor, and he started off with the following powerful quote from Toni Morrison’s acceptance speech for the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature.
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
Generally speaking, I don’t think our students realise the power of writing that Morrison is alluding too. It is up to us to change this through our pedagogy, curriculum and assessment practices.
The content in this magazine has inspired me in the work I engage in with schools, as well as the writing course I completed last year that started me off on this journey of writing online – Write Of Passage with David Perell.
Perell argues that “in school we learned an outdated, ineffective method of writing. We were taught to follow an arbitrary set of requirements. Our teachers told us to pad our writing to reach a minimum length, and to use flowery vocabulary completely foreign to our everyday lives.”
He goes on to say that writing education is broken and provides solutions on how to fix it.
Does this reflect your experience?
Many of the schools I work with this year are focusing on writing, and both resources have influenced what this looks like for us practically day to day.
For the schools that have adopted these ideas quickly: engagement, quantity, and quality have all gone up.
The Mathematical Association of Victoria has a resource link called ‘Mathspiration’, which is well worth checking out.
It contains examples of warm-up games for the classroom, ideas on how to engage families with maths, and much more.
TROJAN HORSE AFFAIR
I’ve written previously on how I’ve been slow with my uptake of podcasts. However, after a tip off from a close friend I binged an 8 episode podcast called ‘The Trojan Horse Affair’ in less than 5 days. That might not be that impressive, but it is for me!
‘A strange letter appears on a city councillor’s desk in Birmingham, England, laying out an elaborate plot by Islamic extremists to infiltrate the city’s schools. The plot has a code name: Operation Trojan Horse. The story soon explodes in the news and kicks off a national panic. By the time it all dies down, the government has launched multiple investigations, beefed up the country’s counterterrorism policy, revamped schools and banned people from education for the rest of their lives.’
The education angle is the clear connection, but I do love a complex, hard to believe story as well. Since finishing the series I have read some reviews, and it is clear the podcast has been controversial to say the least.
Like a good book, or movie it has left me pondering several things.
In last week’s newsletter I wrote about how using the strategy of a Study Group was arguably the number one factor that transformed the school I was leading from arguably one of the worst in the state to one of the best.
I indicated that I was thinking of running an online Study Group this year depending on my schedule. Thank you to those of you who contacted me to register your interest. I will most likely decide towards the end of term 1 if it goes ahead, and let you know at that time. If you’re interested and haven’t let me know, get in touch.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to start thinking/planning for a study group in your school. If you want to know more about this, or have questions shoot me an email. I’m always happy to help if you would like a recommendation of a text that would suit your school’s focus.
Thanks for reading and see you next week,
P.S Feel free to provide me with any feedback regarding the newsletter, or anything for that matter via email. Also, let me know what topics you would be interested in reading more about.
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