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Weaving a narrative into an information text in Wolves by Emily Gravett
Cover image for Weaving a narrative into an information text in Wolves by Emily Gravett
Rita van Haren
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Can a wolf and a rabbit live happily ever after in Wolves by Emily Grr..rabbit?
Cover image for Weaving a narrative into an information text in Wolves by Emily Gravett
Rita van Haren


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This is a literacy based learning element with a focus on the structure and language features of narrative and information texts.

Knowledge Domain
English
Scope of Learning
A literacy study for 9-12 year olds
Learning Level
Age 9-12
Prior Knowledge
Other stories, including traditional fairy tales; how to reference a text using the Harvard style.
Modes of meaning
Standard Url:
http://activated.act.edu.au/ectl/framework.htm
Description:

The 2007 ACT curriculum framework, Every chance to learn, provides public and non-government schools in the Australian Capital Territory in Australia with the curriculum framework on which to base their school curriculum plans from preschool to year 10 (ages 4years - 16 years).

The curriculum framework comprises 10 curriculum principles to guide curriculum decision-making in schools and 25 Essential Learning Achievements that identify what is essential for all ACT students to know, understand, value and be able to do.

The curriculum framework is designed to ensure that all ACT students, from preschool to year 10, are provided with a comprehensive and balanced curriculum.

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Your focus as you study Wolves by Emily Gravett is to undertand how narratives and information texts work so that you can then create your own texts.

Knowledge Domain
English
Scope of Learning
Narratives and Information texts
Learning Level
Age 9-12
Prior Knowledge
Other stories, inlcuding traditonal stories; how to reference a text using the Harvard style.

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As a result of completing this Learning Element, students will be able to:
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As a result of completing this Learning Element, you will be able to:
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ELA 5: The student contributes to group effectiveness

Criteria/Essential content: What is important in the asessment of this learning element

5.LC.2: Participate in a range of groups to complete specified tasks within a given timeframe

5.LC.3: Take on a range of roles within a group and participate in group decisions and tasks

5.LC.6 Respect and build on other learners' ideas and opinions as well as their own, and provide and accept positive and encouraging feedback in group situations

The student contributes to group effectiveness

Quality: What does it look like when it is done well


5.LC.2: Show that you are on task and focused on completing the work


5.LC.3: Take on diffferent roles of facilitator, recorder and reporter

5.LC.6: Show that your group is cohesive with everyone cooperating and contributing

ELA 9: The student reads effectively

9.LC.8: Read and interpret imaginative texts that contain characters, settings and plots developed in some detail, and topics and issues that extend beyond the immediate plot

9.LC.9: Read and interpret information and argument texts in printed and electronic forms that contain information and ideas extending beyond their immediate experience

 

 

The student reads effectively

9.LC.8 & 9.LC.9: Make predictions on the story and respond through discussion and visual representations of the plot and characters

Use research skills to find out more about the topics

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ELA 10: The student writes effectively

Criteria/Essential content: What is important in the asessment of this learning element

10.LC.1: Understand the generic structures of different types of texts to organise and structure ideas and information

 

The student writes effectively

Quality: What does it look like when it is done well

Compare and contrast the features of narratives and information texts in a Venn diagram

Use the metalanguage of narrative, complication, resolution and evaluation

Identify the introduction, body and general closing statement of an information report

Hypothesise about what happens to a  text when a narrative and information text combine

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ELA 11: The student critically interprets and creates texts

11.LC.4: Understand how the interests of intended readers and viewers can be reflected in the text

11.LC.7: Understand how visual, graphic layout, non-verbal, spoken, and auditory techniques develop the subject matter and focus a viewer's attention

11.LC.11: Understand how languge and images are used to portray people, characters, and events in particular ways (eg to create a positive or negatve perspective)

The student critically interprets and creates texts

11.LC.4: Identify three pros, three cons and three questions that different characters might have in responding to the story; compare and contrast these with the perspectives of others

11.LC.7 and 11.LC.11: Analyse shot type, use of colour, framing, sentecing, voice, use of adjectives and intertextuality by identifying examples and describing their effects on the reader in a retrieval chart

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ELA 10: The student writes effectively

Criteria/Essential content: What is important in the asessment of this learning element

10.LC.5: Write texts in handwritten and electronic mediums, to entertain, inform and persuade known audiences, drawing on their own experiences and some unfamiliar ideas or information by researching topics

10.LC.6: Write imaginative texts that: describe characters and settings and use dialogue; develop a storyline of sequenced events with a problem and a resolution; include details relevant to the storyline; and draw together elements of the storyline, sometimes in a resolution

10.LC.7: Write information texts that provide a general statement or introduction to the topic, and develop the topic with a few supporting ideas, explanations, opinions and/or descriptions

The student writes effectively

Quality: What does it look like when it is done well

10.LC.5, 10.LC.6 and 10.LC.7: Include an appropriate information text to accompany a narrative, following the structure and language features of an information text, and and use research to expand on the information

Include a narrative to accompany an information text and identify the orientation, complication, resolution and evaluation

ELA 11: The student critically interprets and creates texts

11.LC.4: Understand how the interests of intended readers and viewers can be reflected in the text

11.LC.7: Understand how visual, graphic layout, non-verbal, spoken, and auditory techniques develop the subject matter and focus a viewer's attention

11.LC.11: Understand how language & images are used to portray people, characters, & events in particular ways (eg to create a positive or negatve perspective)

The student critically interprets and creates texts

11.LC.4, 11.LC.7 and 11.LC.11: Create a text which combines more than one text type or genre, eg narrative/information text, website, blog, wiki, podcast/picture book. Expalin how you have used the features of multimodal texts to position your reader in some way.


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Learning Activity 1:
Frontloading wolves and rabbits

The following activities value the prior knowledge of students and build their background knowledge of the text.

Use a noisy round robin to discover all the facts students know about wolves and rabbits. Include 3/4 rotations as students will find there is not much more to add.

Sorting the words into facts and opinions is important so that reading the text students will understand how factual texts can include opinions, attitudes and imaginative ideas through the images.

Making a list of ways to find out information about wolves and rabbits links to the library book idea but which is not as typical in the life worlds of students as online searches for information. Point out how different it was to borrow a book before libraries had electronic borrowing (or burrowing) systems. Show the library card in the front of the book. Asking children to find out information from their parents and grandparents values some of their cultural knowledge.

The images are important as they also can be compared later to the drawings in the picture book and the sorts of stereotypes there are of these animals. Display the images around the room so students can walk around and discuss with a partner as a scaffold to writing their individual reflections.

Pre-required

There are no prerequisites for studying this learning element. Students may have some prior knowledge of visuals in texts and have studied both linguistic and visual grammar. They may also have looked at narratives and information texts and already have good understanding of how they are the same and different. This will enable them to approach the study of Wolves confidently but with new experiences and learning to challenge them.

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Learning Activity 1:
What do you already know about wolves and rabbits?

Make a word web of all the words you know about wolves and rabbits. Pass these on to another group so they can add some more words while you add words to another group's web. Do this 3 or 4 times. When you get your web back sort the words into facts and opinions.

Make a list of all the ways you could find out more information about wolves and rabbits if you wanted to. Share your ideas with the class and extend your list when you hear an idea you don't already have.

How do you borrow books from the library? What else can you borrow from the library besides books? How is it different in Wolves? Ask your parents and grandparents how they borrowed books from the library?

Work with a partner and sketch a rabbit and a wolf. What colours would you choose? How big are they? Look at the sketches of other students with a partner and discuss. Are wolves different in different cultures? For example we have dingoes in Australia but in Europe there are wolves. Do people fear them more or less? Write some of your reflections in your journal.

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Learning Activity 2:
Reading and responding to Wolves by Emily Gravett

The students read and respond to the text in ‘Experiencing the new’. The 'Wolves' text is multimodal, both visual and linguistic, so it taps into life world interests by presenting varied information and also by presenting it in different modes – multimodally. Exciting and engaging input at the ‘Experiencing the new’ stage can really make a difference to the success of the whole learning element.

The prediction activity is important to engage students in reading the text. Stop at least twice in the story. Early in the story eg 'They can survive almost anywhere: from the Arctic Circle....' and just before the resolution - 'They also enjoy smaller mammals like beavers, voles and .... rabbits.'

Use open ended questions to respond to the text, enabling students to bring their own knowledge and experiences to the text.This values diverse responses before you move into the explicit teaching of the text which is conceptual learning. It is important to include ways of describing/ retelling/sharing aspects of the text in ‘Experiencing the new’ so that students use their own language/versions of English. Lisa Delpit in Other People’s Children (1995) stresses the need for students to have access to the language of power but still have their own ways of speaking and thinking, including identity, valued in non-deficit ways.

Typically a story map lists characters, setting/s, complication and resolution. It can be represented in a table or as a graphic organiser.

 

Resources

Gravett, E. (2006). Wolves. London: Macmillan.

 

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Learning Activity 2:
Rabbit went to the library

Look at the cover of Wolves by Emily Gravett. What is the animal on the front? Do you know other books by this author? What often happens in picture books like this?  Predict what you think the story will be about.

Share your predictions with a partner.

Now listen to the story being read to you.

At the first stop point, discuss whether your prediction is still okay with your partner. Revise it if you like. Do this again at the second stop point.

After you have heard the story, discuss it with your partner. What was it about? Did you like it? Why or why not? What were your favourite parts? What would you change?

Create a story map in which you include what happens and highlight the parts you liked.

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Learning Activity 3:
Online and audio texts

‘Applying appropriately’ and ‘Applying creatively’ allows students to present their understandings/ learning in different ways. Encouraging students to present their learning in different modes provides them with choice, another form of agency, as well as linking to their technological life worlds and subjectivities.

Overall  when you work through the knowledge processes you are scaffolding for increasing agency for students – so when you ask students to apply their understandings and learning, they will be more successful.

This task could be an extension task for more able students or an alternative to the 'applying appropritely' task for interested students.

Ensure protocols are followed for setting up the wilki or blog. Perhaps it could be part of an existing class wiki so you can moderate it and also invite parents to participate to allay any concerns.

The podacst will allow students to demonstrate their use of voice to engage an audience as well as their background knowledge of the text.

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Learning Activity 3:
Create a wiki, blog, website or podcast

Create a website or blog or wiki to accompany your favorite narrative. You could include:

  • images
  • background information
  • reflections as you read it
  • links to other sites and information
  • your analysis of the text
  • invitations to your classmates to contribute and join the discussion

OR

Create a podcast to accompany your favourite narrative. You could create a voice over which comments on the text as someone turns the pages and shows the images. The commentary could include:

  • background information
  • reflections
  • links to other sites and information
  • your analysis of the text

OR

Choose a narrative and do some research on the topic or theme. Write a new ending for it based on what you find out.

Present your new text on the wiki and explain how you have taken the ideas of the original text further.

 

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Learning Activity 4:
Exploring how the words and pictures work separately

In ‘Conceptualising by naming’ the students work in groups to identify the features of either the narrative or information text.  Working in groups, promotes speaking and listening as well as shifting the balance of agency from teachers to students. It also provides a metalanguage for students so they can participate in the learning, hence addressing diversity.

To ensure students have some scaffolding as well as accountability, they record ideas on a Venn diagram and then have to share their work with another group and other people’s ideas to record in one part of the Venn. Using cooperative learning and thinking tools ensure students do the thinking rather than depending on the teacher to do the thinking for them so more shifting of the balance of agency.

Type up the words of the text so Group 2 can focus without being distracted by the images.

Allow each group to choose whether they will record on a Venn or a compare and contrast diagram. Choice is good to provide student agency.

Students are more likely to record points mainly about the ideas in the text and how it is structured,

Narrative: orientation, complication, resolution and evaluation.

Information text: uses facts to explain something, gives details about a topic and does not contain personal view. It includes a general opening statement, paragraphs ordered logically and a general concluding statement.

Link the discussion back to the initial  frontloading activity when students sorted their ideas into facts and opinions.

They may also include some language features but this will be covered in depth in a later activity.

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Learning Activity 4:
Words versus pictures

Form a group of four. Two of you can choose to look at the pictures only (group 1)  and the other two can choose to look at the words only (group 2).

Group 1
You are looking at an information text. What is it about? Describe some of its features. Record  in one side of a Venn diagram or a compare and contrast diagram.

Group 2
You are looking at the narrative. What is it about? Describe some of its features. Record  in the other side of a Venn diagram or the compare and contrast diagram.

Discuss your findings. In the crossover of the Venn diagram, record what the narrative and information text have in common.

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Learning Activity 5:
Exploring the effectiveness of the words and pictures working together

After naming the features, students theorise about what happens when the two texts combine. This activity is scaffolded using a PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting) chart and students then record their reflections in journals or on a class wiki – another way of linking to students’ life worlds.

A good design incorporates all knowledge processes, especially so that students move from knowledge to understanding. For example ‘Conceptualising by naming’ is about gaining deep knowledge while ‘Conceptualising by theorising’ moves this knowledge to understanding. It also moves  knowledge from short term memory to long term memory as students have a connection for recalling the knowledge they have gained.

This activity will enable the students to think more deeply about how the text works and why it is effective.

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Learning Activity 5:
Words and pictures

What happens when a narrative and a picture book combine?

In your group of four, use a Plus, Minus Intersting (PMI) to explore this.

Share your ideas with the class. Add to your PMI as you hear other ideas.

Then write a reflective journal or contribute to the class wiki on whether you think Wolves is a good book and why.

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Learning Activity 6:
Field, tenor and mode

Analysing functionally is where we focus on the visual and linguistic grammar to explore the text at the word and sentence level. We have already explored the structure of texts in the ‘Conceptualising by naming’ activity so we don’t need to explore that again even though it could be included in this knowledge process too. 

Basically this activity looks at the visual and linguistic modes, using examples in context (the field) and then looks at their effects (tenor). Use a retrival chart to model the language features of the text. You can model 2 or 3 examples and then ask students to work cooperatively to complete as much of the retrieval chart as possible. Then complete it as a whole class activity. This will enable you to explicitly teach grammatical features. Make sure you use the metalanguage of tenor, mode and field and provide definitions by displaying posters around the room for students to refer to.

The mode is the mode of communication. It may be linguistic, visual, audio, gestural and spatial.

The field includes the action, what’s going on, the characters, themes, topics, setting and processes. This varies according to the genre. In analysing the mode, students will provide examples from the field.

The last column requires the students to think about the effects of these techniques.  This is the tenor. Tenor involves evaluating the text to understand how it impacts on an audience, especially how it might position an audience or make them respond with feelings such as empathy, suspense, fear, judgement and humour.

This activity makes the students look closely at the text to describe what they see and gives them a language to talk about the ‘grammar’ of the text. It also supports them when making language and visual choices in the creation of their own texts. To reinforce the elemnts of the mode, they could identify them in other texts or practise using them, where applicable in writing, eg changing a text from present to past tense and vice versa or identifying technical terms for a topic and creating sentences. 

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Learning Activity 6:
The grammar of visual and linguistic texts
Visual
Mode
Examples
from Field
 Tenor 
 Effects
Colour Grey colours  fearsome
Shot type
Close up
Wolf's legs
and claws
 create fear
Framing Wolf in
frame of book
 not as fearful,
contained
Inter-
textuality
Wolf dressed
as Grandma in Little Red
Riding Hood
Makes the
wolf threatening
Gaze The rabbit is unaware of the wolf - has head in book Humour
Intertextuality

Postcards, library cards, artefacts

 Links to books
Comedic elements Wolf & rabbit having a meal Defuses tension
Sketched images (not a photo)
Picture of wolf Not threatening  and suited to a children's story
Linguistic
Mode
Examples
from Field
 Tenor
 Effects
Short sentences  Wolves eat mainly meat
 Focus
Third person  They/its/an adult wolf
Impersonal
& factual
Precise
adjectives
 Bushy, sharp
Factual
Present tense An adult wolf has 42 teeth. It's happening now - more scary
 Technical terms
 prey, woodlands, survival
 More realistic and scary!
New ending The wolf was a vegetarian Twist - engaging

 

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Learning Activity 7:
Point of view

Providing  a knowledge of the grammar of texts  in ‘Analysing functionally’ supports students so they can create their own texts in ‘Applying’. It also enables them to understand the choices authors make to position readers in particular ways in ‘Analysing critically’. So by presenting the wolf as fearsome through the shot type, colour and adjectives, the author is able to build tension and then present an engaging twist in the new ending of the story in which the wolf is a vegetarian.  This also presents other perspectives, rather than a stereotype of a wolf. These perspectives are pursued in more detail in the ‘Analsying critically’ activity in which students investigate a range of perspectives from hunters to animal lovers and even Indigenous people. They can then value a variety of cultural knowledges and perspectives.

Emphasise that students have a high level of accountability as they may be the only pair representing a particular point of view.

Keep a strict time limit as students rotate through all of the points of view. Encourage students to take notes so they can use them in their reflection.

Students could add other points of view to consider. As an extension students could also do some research on one or more of the perspectives or they could investigate issues such as the impact of rabbits on environmental biodiversity. They could share their findings on the class wiki.

Encourage students to refer to the 'analysing functionally' acticvity as well as the point of view activity in their journal reflection.

They could also refer to their original sketches of wolves and rabbits and discuss any stereotypical features.

PCQ
Pros = benefits, strengths, pluses, advantages.
Cons = negatives, opposing ideas, disadvantages, weaknesses
Questions = opportunbities for questions, probes,curiosity and what ifs.

Instead of a PCQ activity, you could use Six Thinking Hats.

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Learning Activity 7:
Considering other perspectives

Work with a partner to select one of the following and describe how different people/characters might respond to this story.

  1. animal lover
  2. wolf hunter
  3. Indigenous person
  4. wolf
  5. rabbit
  6. farmer
  7. librarian
  8. child
  9. parent
  10. author
  11. illustrator

To help you describe how you feel in this role, you could do some research online or in the library.  Use a PCQ (Pros, Cons, Questions) strategy and inlcude at least 3 pros, 3 cons and 3 questions. Then join with another pair and share your responses. Keep changing pairs until  you have explored all of the different perspectives.

Then write a journal reflection on whether you think Wolves is too simple to be studied by your age group.

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Learning Activity 8:
Text innovations

When we ask students to apply their knowledge through a report, essay, PPT or multimedia presentation or in the case of this learning element to create a narrative, images or information texts, they have to be able to move beyond responding to creating and becoming knowledge producers. ‘Analysing  functionally’ and ‘Analysing critically’ provides them with the tools to do this.

Encourage students to present their new texts in any format, using computers and drawing programs, or writing, drawing by hand or even tracing.

Negotiate the task with students as they may have some original ideas on how they could innovate on the text.

Modify the task by requiring students to create 1-3 images for parts of the linguistic text rather than the whole text. Similarly students just write a new introduction or new conclusion for the information text that they create.

Support students to research their topics by providing access to  electronic and print based resources.

Story boards might also provide another scaffold.

As an extension activity, some students may choose to do both activities.

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Learning Activity 8:
Creating your own text to complement another text

Find an information text. It can be about any topic. Then draw/sketch images which present an alternative story which is a narrative.

OR

Find a narrative/picture book. What information could possibly accompany it? Do some research. Then present the information text to align with the narrative structure of the text.

OR

Retell the story from a different perspective. You could consider some of the perspectives you considered earlier:

  1. animal lover
  2. wolf hunter
  3. Indigenous person
  4. wolf
  5. rabbit
  6. farmer
  7. librarian
  8. child
  9. parent
  10. author
  11. illustrator

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As a result of completing this Learning Element, students can demonstrate that they are able to:
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As a result of completing this Learning Element, you will show that you can:
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Creating your own linguistic text to complement a visual text

ELAS 10: Write effectively

ELA 11: Critically interpret and create texts

Students select one task in Activity 7. Choice creates student direction and agency. Explicit criteria and high expectations are communicated through the CQ (Criteria/Quality) rubrics (with thanks to Rick Owens).

Criteria – what is important in this task, come directly from the Every chance to learn. Quality – what does it look like when it is done well, is using learner talk to describe the best quality students can produce. In this way the assessment is made transparent. In these rubrics, there are no shades of grey through 5 levels of achievement being described; only the highest quality is articulated. Two CQ rubrics are included here.

Creating your own linguistic text to complement a visual text

Download the CQ rubric to communicate high expectations and provide feedback.

Creating a visual text to complement a linguistic text

ELA 10: Write effectively

ELA 11: Critically interpret and create texts

Creating your own visual text to complement a linguistic text

Download the CQ rubric to communicate high expectations and provide feedback.


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Future learning pathways could include a study of multimodal texts which focus more on other modes such as the gestural and tactile, eg scripts.

Links could be made to studies about predators, the food chain and biodiversity in science and Studies of Society and the Environment (SOSE).

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Learning about, analysing, performing and creating drama scripts would complement this learning element which focused on pictures (visual) and words (linguistic).

You could learn more about predators, the food chain and biodiversity in science and Studies of Society and the Environment (SOSE).


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Description

This learning element focuses on a multimodal text which combines a narrative text and an information text. Students read and respond to the text, drawing out similarities and differences, and analyse the visual and linguistic grammar of the text. Students then create their own multimodal texts.

Knowledge Domain
English
Topic
A literacy study for 9-12 year olds
Learning Level
Age 9-12
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Description

In this learning element you will study a picture book which is a story and also an information text. By analysing it you will learn to create your own multimodal texts which include the written and the visual modes.

Knowledge Domain
English
Topic
Narratives and Information texts
Learning Level
Age 9-12

Author: Rita van Haren
Affiliation: Common Ground Publishing, Illinois, USA
Position: Curriculum Developer
Picture of Rita van Haren

From 2004-2013, before coming to Common Ground Publishing, I worked with teachers in a cluster of three Australian schools, two primary schools and one high school, focusing on curriculum and pedagogy. My interests are inclusivity and literacy, particularly teaching reading. In 2007 I completed a masters of education at RMIT University in Melbourne researching how Learning by Design addresses diversity. In 2010 I completed a second masters of education, New Learning, New Literacies, at the University of Illinois. I am also involved in the Australian English teaching professional associations, ACTATE and AATE.