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Resource 2 - Website
The Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities website “Threatened species and ecological communities” is a comprehensive, clear and up-to-date resource. It provides information on all threatened fauna, flora and ecological community listings, explanations of the issues and processes threatening these, and latest news.
This resource would effectively support the teaching of the Stage 2 HSIE Environments (Relationships with Places) outcome as it provides opportunities for deep knowledge and explicit teaching of research skills.
As the site contains a large quantity of information, use of it would need to be modelled for students before they use it with their peers. As a whole class, students could explore the general information on the homepage and teachers could demonstrate how to access information on the particular animal being explored for students’ group multimodal texts. Therefore the site is easier to navigate and the information is more manageable, as students have a particular goal in mind. This supports the development of research skills. Also, the task of writing a discussion text with a graphic organiser provides students with scaffolding, explicit criteria, and should build proficiency in higher-order thinking by requiring students to reorganise and synthesis information (NSW DET, 2003, p. 11). As Stewart-Dore (2007) suggests, graphic organisers can support students to improve their vocabulary, critical thinking, capacity to select and organise information, help them to make links between prior and new learning and develop their metacognitive skills (p. 1).
The resource is also valuable for both the HSIE content knowledge and literacy learning as it contains a variety of forms of information, both visual and written. Maps, illustrations, headings, tables, graphs, and structured analytical images are provided. As Unsworth (2001) notes, there is a need for greater attention to be paid to “the multimodal nature of contemporary texts” and how it affects textual communication (p. 71). After the written grammar lesson, students could return to the website and examine the types of images and how they have been designed for a scientific purpose. Therefore, students should have had previous explicit learning activities around factual texts and how to read them.
The written aspects of the resource provide opportunities for discussion about the language used and how students could adapt it for their discussion texts. The use of nominalisation, text connectives and appreciation vocabulary (Droga and Humphrey, 2008, p. 146-147) would be appropriate for a discussion text based on scientific issues. The information provided in this resource would also be the most current, accurate information available on the issues surrounding the threatened species and much of it is specific to each group’s animal. In this way, it would support students to understand that it is necessary to use high quality information texts for research.
Students could critically examine the website, discuss its purpose, which is primarily to convey information, and consider how a richer multimodal text could be more creative, entertaining and thought-provoking. This would allow for an explicit discussion of different forms and media and the use of metalanguage for students to consider how language use differs in a range of contexts (NSW DET, 2003, p. 11).
Droga, L. & Humphrey, S. (2008). Grammar and meaning: An introduction for primary teachers. Berry, NSW: Target Texts.
NSW DET. (2003). Quality teaching in NSW public schools: A discussion paper. Sydney: Author.
Stewart-Dore, N. (2007). Learning with graphic organisers. PEN 159. Marrickville: PEN.
Unsworth, L. (2001). Teaching multiliteracies across the curriculum: A framework for actively engaging literacy learners, K-8. Boston: Pearson.
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