Reporting and Assessing to the Australian Curriculum

On Wednesday last week, the Indonesian teachers met again with Mel Jones, the Coordinator for Primary Australian Curriculum (CPAC) for our region. The purpose of our meeting was to focus on reporting and moderation. Attending included Cheryl & Sharon from VH R-7, Jemma from C.A.S., Annie from G.P.S. and myself from P.E.P.S.

The meeting was brilliant on so many levels but mostly because we were able to attend training specific to the teaching of Indonesian with other local Indonesian teacher colleagues. Non-metropolitan language teachers know how rare these opportunities are! In fact ‘rare’ doesn’t even come close to counting the times! Let’s just acknowledge that this is the second time that we have been provided by DECD Indonesian language teacher specific training in our local area!! Let’s hope there are many more!

Our meeting began with the awesome question: How can sites that provide students with less than the recommended number of minutes of Indonesian instruction per week cover the curriculum and therefore report accurately against it? We discovered that several sites within our district are way under quota for no other reason than that the program is not supported nor valued by leadership. In both cases, the staff and principals have been lobbied, both verbally and in writing, offering various solutions to rectify the issue, yet it all seems to have been conveniently swept under the carpet. To return to the burning question, do teachers who cover less than half the amount of the curriculum due to time limitations, give their students ‘D’ & ‘E’’s or do they shift the goal posts and create their own bell curve? What is your take? We all agreed it was tough to grade the students poorly because of an administrative oversight/decision.

Mel then introduced the Reporting Resource: A-E Guide (see below)

reporting resource A - E Guide

as a baseline for devising a grading system relevant for assessing Indonesian language students. We spent quite a bit of time on this as between the 5 of us, 3 teachers use TPRS methodology and the other 2 use traditional methods. This lead to some interesting discussions and ensured the guide we agreed to was inclusive of both methodologies. Yet once, we started looking at student work against our determined criteria, we discovered that it didn’t completely recognize the Achievement Standards which students had acquired. For example, one piece of work we gave a ‘C’ using this criteria yet when we looked at it against the Achievement Standards, the work sample ticked more than 50% of the points, so how could it only be given a ‘C’? So we went back to the drawing board and agreed that the reporting guide is actually quite accurate as it stands and all we had to do was remove the ‘in new contexts’ for the grades ‘A’, ‘B’ & ‘C’ and then we were all satisfied with it.

Sharon began first with her writing samples from a free write she had done with her year 2’s. We all agreed the samples were amazing. Jemma was blown away and instantly wanted to know more about TCI methodology because if this is what year 2’s are producing, TPRS/TCI must be worth investigating! We discussed the task itself (write as much as you can about this picture –a picture from the folk story we have been focusing on this term – Kancil dan Buaya) and realized that we should have given the students more detailed instructions to ensure they were clear on how they could incorporate vocabulary from previous stories into their writing and thus achieve an ‘A’ for the task. For example, students could have included colours , numbers, body parts, clothing (kancil tidak pakai sepatu) etc.

We next looked at Cheryl’s task which was based on her terms focus on the Daniel Bradbury book, “Ada Berapa?” a beautiful counting book. She had created an A3 sheet with 5 pictures taken from the book and students had to write sentences about the pictures using the language modeled in the text. Cheryl was very apprehensive sharing her results after Sharon, which is understandable, yet for me, the student work she presented demonstrates clearly that TPRS/TCI methodology assists student language acquisition far greater than traditional methodology. Cheryl also asked for more information about TPRS/TCI and is keen to look at the Ben Slavic book, “TPRS in a Year”. We suggested she develop each skill one by one, so it is less intimidating. I really hope she does because it will help both her and her students enormously. We all start with baby steps.

We all agreed it was brilliant to have time to collaborate with colleagues in preparation for the 2016 implementation of the Indonesian languages curriculum.  For me, I was especially thankful for the chance to look once again at the curriculum through reporting eyes and be involved with the creation of a grading guide which is highly compatible for all language methodologies.

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