New Ways of doing old things in the English department
Monica See (Head of English) and Bonnie Becker (Head of English Communication) at St Joseph's Nudgee College, recently presented at a national English teachers’ conference on innovative teaching practices.
Years ago, students were likely to receive assignment drafts covered in red pen marks, editing codes scrawled across the page with a contrived comment at the end. But today, the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Program and the increased use of technology in the classroom has changed the way teachers provide students with feedback. English teachers, and indeed all teachers, have tools at their disposal that allow them to provide extensive, meaningful and affirming individual feedback to enable students to use the Habits of Mind, such as persisting, thinking flexibly, and remaining open to continuous learning.
In recent years the College introduced the idea of using video feedback in Mathematics classes, an innovation adopted by many teachers in that department. After applying this method of feedback to creative tasks in the English department, it was clear that video feedback was a technique that could make a difference to students’ results and engagement. We then took this understanding to a national conference to demonstrate how we use video feedback at St Joseph’s Nudgee College.
The Australian Association of Teachers of English (AATE) and the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) National Conference was held in Hobart at the end of Semester 1. The conference theme was ‘Cutting Edge: Margin to the Mainstream’ and its focus was revolutionary thinking and practice in education. Keynote addresses and workshops explored student engagement, creativity, critical and divergent thinking, and innovation and collaboration – skills we value at Nudgee College because of the rich quality they bring to classroom English and literacy experiences.
Our workshop ‘New Ways of Doing Old Things: Beyond the Red Pen’ explored the benefits of video feedback on both written and visual assessment drafts. Video feedback is useful for all students, but particularly for our Boarding students, who can access video feedback on their assignments during night study to help them make necessary changes in their draft writing. They can also share their video feedback with the tutors in the boarders’ study program Reach for the Stars, in this way having the benefit of personalised encouragement to produce their best work. Video feedback allows teachers to make a connection with individual students. Often, in a busy classroom, it is difficult to find the quiet space and time to speak with a student at length about their work. Before you know it, the bell has rung and conversations are left unfinished. Video feedback allows teachers to ‘speak’ to each student and then invite them to engage further.
This video strategy is particularly relevant in English when students are completing a narrative writing task, which is part of our Term 1 programs across all year levels in English. When writing narratives, students tend to write what they know and, in doing so, often share the experience of their lives with teachers. Video feedback helps to build trust between teachers and students so students know their teachers are invested in their progress.
This form of feedback is not limited only to written tasks. In English Communication, several tasks require a multi-modal component. By using video feedback for visual assessment pieces, teachers are not only able to provide feedback on areas of improvement, but are also able to compliment students on their creativity and their selection of information and images. Students are far more inclined to edit their work by going through the video several times, instead of deciphering paper copies of slides that have red pen all over them.
Clearly, teachers know the benefit of this innovation, and our students have told us they prefer it to other forms of feedback:
- “There are many different ways to interpret a teacher’s feedback; for example, they might use a W.W. editing code, which means ‘wrong word’, but that doesn’t necessarily tell you why they think that’s the wrong word. Having the video feedback actually allows you to learn as well in the process. You are not just preparing yourself for one specific piece of assessment; you are actually learning and able to better your grades well into the future beyond that single piece.” – Corbin Duncan (Year 12)
- “You can actually see where they are pointing on the assignment in the video and it’s really clear what they mean. Then, you can go back and refine your work much better than you could if you were just to have a chat.” – Matt Holmes (Year 12)
- “Some of the videos can be nearly 20 minutes long; the teachers put a lot of effort into them.”– Freddie Carlton-Smith (Year 12)
Those who attended our workshop were very receptive to the ideas of what we do regarding feedback at Nudgee College. At the end of our workshop, we were approached by the Editor of the Australian Journal of Language and Literacy with a request to contribute to the next publication. We are happy to continue to share with other educators the practices that we know benefit students enormously. It is through the generosity of Mr Peter Fullagar and the College Leadership Team that we could take part in such a rich professional development and we are grateful for the experience.
Monica See (Head of English) and Bonnie Becker (Head of English Communication)
From Strength to Strength: VET at Nudgee College
The St Joseph’s Nudgee College VET Program has grown steadily in recent years. Director of Pathways Ms Lara Morgan attributes this growth to the College’s commitment to offer students a wide selection of qualifications that suit varied interests, abilities, needs and learning styles.
VET qualifications not only prepare students to enter the workforce in a dynamic and ever-changing economic environment, but can also be used to gain entrance to tertiary study. For these reasons, VET certificates are a popular option for many students.
Several new qualifications have been introduced over recent years, with great success. Students in Years 11 and 12 can study a Certificate III in Business and a Certificate III in Fitness as part of their Senior schooling in partnership with Binnacle (RTO code: 31319). Both subjects are practical in nature and require students to work in a gym or run a business as part of their assessment.
Last year, Nudgee College partnered with Barrington College (RTO code: 45030) to offer the Diploma of Business. This course is tailored to suit young entrepreneurs who have a keen interest in developing skills in researching business opportunities, working in teams, developing a business plan, and following through with their business ideas to create a portfolio of information, designs and costings. Nudgee College men can study the Diploma course on campus and are required to attend classes once a week. On completion of the course, students may gain full time employment or may choose to use the qualification to enter university. Currently, the qualification equates approximately to a tertiary rank of 82, or an OP 9 equivalent, according to the QTAC Guide. The first group of students to complete this Diploma program through the College were recognised at a presentation ceremony in Term 3.
The College has also introduced the Get Set for Work Program for Year 12 VET students. In this course, students are equipped with skills and accredited certificates to increase their employability and catch the eyes of employers in the job market. School leavers face fierce competition to secure employment in an everchanging job market. Get Set for Work allows students to gain qualifications and certificates that will allow them to stand out from the crowd and take their first steps towards a successful career.
The aforementioned courses join the current array of VET qualifications on offer: Certificate I in Construction, Certificate II in Engineering Pathways, as well as the Certificate II in Rural Operations offered in partnership with South West TAFE (RTO code: 3120). Students can achieve up to four qualifications while completing their Queensland Certificate of Education.
The VET department at Nudgee College will continue to strive to offer students various pathways to success as Senior schooling moves into the new tertiary entrance ranking system in 2019.
Director of Pathways