Magazine article Practical Literacy

Asia-Related Resources Used to Build Literacy in Primary Classrooms

Magazine article Practical Literacy

Asia-Related Resources Used to Build Literacy in Primary Classrooms

Article excerpt

Ever wondered how you, as a primary school teacher, might go about using Asia-related texts and other resources in your classroom to promote literacy--especially given the imperatives of the new Asia-focused Australian Curriculum--but don't know how to go about doing this or where to start?

Lis Turner, principal at Waggrakine Primary School in Western Australia, along with members of her staff, has got some great ideas, suggestions, practical examples and advice on how teachers throughout Australia might be able to achieve this with sound professional outcomes.

Waggrakine is a government Primary School in Geraldton WA with 450 students from Kindergarten to Year 7.

The school is considered a lead school in Western Australia, with multiple awards, buoyed by its leadership in globalising learning. Waggrakine is also one of 60 Western Australian Education Department Teacher Development Schools, leading the development of the Australian Curriculum in English.

It is one of 60 Worldwide Microsoft Innovative Schools and through this program has had opportunities to develop relationships with schools around the world. The school's focus though is clearly on Asia.

Waggrakine has taken advantage of the numerous projects through the Asia Education Foundation (AEF), Microsoft, ACICIS and more to enrich its development of the Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia cross-curriculum priority. These included:

In 2009: participation in the AEF Leading 21st Century Schools: Engage with Asia program. As a result of this initial professional learning, staff carried out audits of how inclusive their reading and library texts were of not just Asia but global cultures, Aboriginal and Torres Strait and Islander cultures, and people with special needs. Staff talked about Asia and its impact on the global and Australian community, and made a commitment to focus on Asia across the school.

One of the teachers at the school says a good starting point for promoting literacy through the use of Asian-related texts and other resources on the AEF website.

'The Asia Education Foundation provides some great resources on their website, with links to the Curriculum, that I have added to and adapted to suit my teaching style and students' needs,' says Waggrakine teacher Paula Moses. 'The books the AEF produces and promotes are beneficial in how they support and enhance teaching, especially the Snapshot of Asia big books.'

Ms Moses says being a participant in the BRIDGE Australia-Indonesia Partnership Project has also provided her with a lot of lesson ideas and resources that have a strong focus on life in Indonesia from a child's perspective, such as looking at school and social life, sports, games, modern music and film, rather than just looking at the history and culture of a region.

'I highly recommend schools becoming involved in the program,' Ms Moses says. 'Building relationships with schools in Indonesia also gives the children an insight to life in Indonesia. We have done this through our involvement in both the BRIDGE Project and the Bali Adopt a School project.'

Another colleague at the school, Year 6 teacher Mel Cross, says actually travelling to Asia and seeing the teacher as a resource within themselves can also have many benefits.

'I've found first-hand experience in Asia has been the most valuable resource. I feel confident in teaching and discussing Asian culture and history, purely drawing on my own experiences, no matter how minor--conversations with taxi drivers in Bali, talking to street sellers in Malaysia - as well as involvement in an AEF study tour around Indonesia,' Ms Cross says.

'These experiences have allowed me to gain authentic resources and have given me an insight to 'current' Asia. My students are more motivated and interested as they see the relevance of Asia through their teacher, and become caught up in my own excitement in teaching and discussing Asia. …

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