Teachers can effectively plan around an English curriculum through perception, conception, comprehension and knowledge.
The ability to easily and effectively connect teaching to a curriculum is crucial for any teacher.
On Episode 67 of The Teacher’s Toolkit for Literacy, literacy expert Sharon Callen revealed the four stages to better understand a new English curriculum and what it’s all about.
Connecting teaching with the curriculum: Perception, conception, comprehension and knowledge
“When we’re first introduced to something, we have to build a perception of it. And one way to describe that is if you have a picture (or perception) of something, that’s like your open hand – it’s large, it’s open and you start building this perception of it,” Sharon said.
“But then as your hand closes a little bit, that lets you start forming conceptions around it. So you’re starting to get a bit more refined and really deciding and pinpointing what are some of the concepts here? So it’s not just perception now, but what are the concepts that this is getting to?
“And then the next stage is that you are really starting to get so much more focused and you’re really building a comprehension of it. And when you really put effort, time, thought, wonderings into that, to build a comprehension and to build a deeper understanding of it, then that’s what gets you to knowledge.
“At this point, you can bring it to your students in a really authentic way and translate it into actions that you can teach as strategies or actions that the children can then apply in their own independent reading and writing, or speaking or viewing.”
How teachers can move beyond perception
Sharon emphasised that going through this process will help teachers move beyond the perception stage, which often occurs when being met with a new curriculum.
“There are plenty of perceptions around the curriculum, and sometimes those perceptions then lead us to look for ways to manage the curriculum,” Sharon said.
“We may look elsewhere by trying to find what resource might link to that, because it’s got the number on it that matches the curriculum. And that’s when teachers just have a perception of it and go, ‘I think I have to cover this, I think I have to cover that’.
“But you’re not really comprehending and you haven’t really come to understand all the concepts that the curriculum is talking about.”
Perception vs comprehension and knowledge
Sharon went on to provide examples of perception vs comprehension and knowledge through keywords in the language strand of the curriculum.
“For example, in the language strand you see words like ‘investigate’ and ‘explore’. So explore how language can be used. That doesn’t mean tell children how language can be used. That means let’s teach children how to explore how language can be used. So they’re very different things,” Sharon explained.
“It’s the same with these other action concepts – ‘navigate, experiment, recognise, create, reproduce, discuss, rehearse, manipulate, build’ etc. So we need to teach and show them how to use these concepts, and then they’ve got to practise them very quickly. Because we talk about that Mini Lesson being that opportunity to practise with the teacher as we are working with text, and then they’ve got the chance to go and use that for themselves. They get to experiment. They get to explore how to use it. And that’s the exciting bit when you see students off to go and use this or to go and explore.”
How to build the right teaching plan
Once teachers have a sound knowledge of the curriculum, the next step is to build a teaching plan and ensure all areas are covered across the year. Sharon recommended a valuable tool which allows you to successfully achieve this while also identifying any gaps in your teaching plan.
“One of the most significant tools for me was to have the curriculum listed down in a column on the page with four columns next to it, and at the top of each column was terms one, two, three and four. And I just ate that up, because what it allowed me to do for each term was to put next to each of the things that I was planning within my units, within my English program – what was covered in each term and how I enabled my students to be active readers, writers, thinkers, learners in each of those categories,” Sharon said.
“Then it became such an eyeopener for me, to see what I had not yet covered by term three. And it really shocked me because I thought I was pretty good with the planning, but when I looked down that list I realised I hadn’t actually brought this to my students yet. I had not given them the opportunity to do the thinking or to do this action yet to do this investigation or exploration or to write this or to read this. And so that has always really stuck with me, as there were gaps.”
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