Know The Content and How To Teach It

wordleContent in this category evidences my ability to cover standard 2 of AITSL’s National Professional Standards for Teachers “know students and how they learn”. For each subcategory I will provide at least two examples of how I achieve that standard.

2.1 Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

Learning Management Systems
I have established detailed and resourced wikispaces for my classes: 12 English Communications, 11 English, 10 English, 8 English, and Stage 1 Media Studies. On these students can access information and resources in one highly organised, easily accessible place that is constantly kept up do date. Examples of materials students can access are:

  • Task information
  • Resource material
  • Google calendar of all due dates
  • Collaborative documents (eg Google forms, surveys)
  • Embedded information (eg mindmaps, videos, poll results)
  • Copies of all materials presented in class (Word, PowerPoint, video, Photoshop, web links, PDFs, etc)
  • Homework

The wikispaces also function as a space for parents to keep themselves informed about their child’s work.

A key teaching strategy I use is adding authenticity to tasks to increase the relevance of the work, engage students more deeply, and provide greater motivation for students. It is also essential for Media Studies as students’ success in starting a Media career is highly dependent on their resume and portfolio, which is why I make our product work based on entering relevant competitions.

Media Studies Competitions

2014 IYSFF Shot from Finals evening of IYSFF (6 of my students in the photo)
2014 and 2013 IYSFF Finals

Media Studies Careers Activities

For the careers unit in Stage 1 Media Studies I organise professional guests and tours. We have had journalist Briony Hume, FreshFM DJ Jay Burnell, and media personality Ollie Geal speak to the class. We have toured the ABC Centre in Collinswood, gone behind the scenes at BestFX Sound Studio and FreshFM, and have had Rising Sun Pictures come and present to the class about the animation and VFX industry.

IMG_1694 ABC Tour 2013 Looking professional at the ABC, 2014
Behind the scenes at the ABC 2016, 2014, 2013.


I took my Year 10 class to Rundle Mall to interview strangers for their stories as part of a Humans of Adelaide experience (mimicking Humans of New York). They also worked in groups to present pitches for their urban renewal project, using available properties from the Renew Adelaide project. The best entries were sent to Renew Adelaide for evaluative feedback.

2.2  Content selection and organisation

Flipping The Classroom
A key example of the way in which I am continuing to focus on content selection and organisation is my recent work in practising flipping the classroom. Initially I conducted an independent practise based on a series of academic readings and conference workshops. I created and ran a flipped unit with a Year 10 class and reflected on the experience. More recently I have led a small professional learning team in experimenting with the methodology further and look forward to running this second trial.

Deepen Understanding
It is vital to ensure that students completely grasp, and have engaged with, the knowledge, understandings, and concepts that underpin their learning in any unit. I spend considerable time selecting and organising content to use with students at the beginning of a unit to make sure they have this foundation. For example an ethos unit I run with Year 10s provides a range of readings, activities, images, videos, etc to help students completely grasp ethos.

  •   Develops teaching programs which reflect syllabus requirements; has clear reference to syllabus and program outcomes in lessons; delivers lessons which develop student knowledge of curriculum content; writes lesson outcomes that are syllabus referenced; ensures lessons meet practical requirements of syllabus documents such as experiments and field work; writes programs that reflect school requirements.

2.3  Curriculum, assessment and reporting

I have been an English Communications moderator since 2004 and an English Communications External Marker since 2011. I was keen to become involved in the process of marking so that I could increase the accuracy of my marking by comparing it to the state wide standard and so I could more thoroughly understand what SACE expects of students. I found it’s also a fantastic way to see what other teachers are doing with their classes, gain innovative / inspirational teaching ideas, network with other English teachers, and to see what works and what doesn’t.

Assessment Database
My colleague Colin McKenzie created an Assessment Database using File Maker Pro and I use this for all assessment. Everything is electronic and stored in the one place: assignment details, marking criteria, results, comments, report comments, special needs information, emails, and much more. I have embraced this software, and have even learned to do a few things myself. Students and parents receive a professional PDF document with feedback once work is assessed.

2.4  Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

I ensure that classes cover at least one text that focuses on understanding and respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and use the text as a launching pad for discussions, activities, and analyses that further that understanding and respect. Some favourite texts for Year 10s include Deadly, Unna? and One Night The Moon.

I look for opportunities to incorporate the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to further students understanding and respect for their cultures. For example in the DirtTV Mining competition students are encouraged to explore what mining companies need to do to value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, perspectives, cultures, and histories.

2.5  Literacy and numeracy strategies

I attended AISSA’s How language works: Success in literacy and learning teacher development course. This comprehensive course focused on building participants’ understandings of how language works so that teachers can provide opportunities for students to explicitly focus on their use of language. It has been invaluable in developing explicit pedagogy around language.

In regards to literacy strategies, it’s hard to know where to start because I leave and breathe literacy as an English teacher. One example is that I deliberately design tasks to develop students’ awareness of narrative voice, tense, vocabulary, and tone. For example a Year 11 English task Accessing The Soul which asks students to focus solely on a single word that could change their existence. Each paragraph has a different focus , requiring a different tense, narrative voice, level of formality, and tone.

2.6  Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

In English I incorporate ICT in the course where appropriate. This includes creating texts (eg films, stop motions, magazines, and photobooks), using online tools (eg wikispaces, YouTube,  Google Docs / Forms / Calendar, polleverywhere, and Flipped the classroom has meant using tools such as Camtasia and screencast-o-matic.

As a teacher of Stage 1 Media Studies, ICT is integral to the course content and my teaching. We work with a range of hard ware (eg cameras, tripods) and a range of software (eg iMovie, Garage Band).

I have taught Year 7 Information Technology and help students develop basic skills in Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Excel, Prezi, Adobe InDesign, Microsoft PowerPoint, GIF Animation, Game Maker, and Visual Basic. We also focus on Cyber Safety and file organisation.


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