DEC Scan Journal : Volume 34 Issue 2
2015 Volume 34, Issue 2 41 Contents Editorial Reflections Teaching & learning Research Curriculum support Share this Resource reviews Moderating the discussion It was decided that the forum panel would consist of two students from each of the STEPS school and that the format would be a discussion of each of the shortlisted texts with reference to the theme, characters, illustrations, message and language. Successful moderation would require an awareness of literature and experience with young people. Judith Ridge from WestWords, a Western Sydney Literature Initiative, was contacted and invited to lead the discussion. Judith’s experience, knowledge and enthusiasm proved vital to ensuring our students were comfortable, articulate and focused during the forum. Under her skillful guidance, every student contributed to the book forum discussion and felt part of a very exciting project. Event sponsorship The event was growing and at times seemed to take on a life of its own. Much work was being done by our students as they explored the texts, teased out themes and uncovered connections and messages. School faculties and communities were uniting as book trailers and artworks were created. It seemed only natural for there to be some community recognition of this event. The local Dymocks bookshop was approached to see if they might make some donations to be presented What is STEPS? The St Clair and Erskine Park (STEPS) Learning Community is a local community of schools based in St Clair, near Penrith, NSW. The five primary schools (Banks, Blackwell, Clairgate, James Erskine and St Clair) and two high schools (Erskine Park and St Clair) combine their expertise and resources to engage students and staff in broader learning opportunities. These include TOPSTEPS, an annual enrichment day for students in Years 1-6; STEPPING UP TOGETHER, an annual sports day, bringing together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, and regular professional learning events for staff. The Book Forum event acknowledges the importance of literature within the Community of Schools and provides an authentic opportunity for our students to collaborate, create and communicate. Inspiration The idea of holding a Book Forum was inspired by a teacher librarian from Shore, Sydney Church of England Grammar School. At a session of the 2014 SLANSW State Library day, she spoke about their annual Book Forum and how it engaged and inspired students. During reflection on this interesting and informative day, the notion of a book forum would not go away and a number of factors provided a convincing argument for holding an event for the STEPS Community of Schools. Firstly, all schools were in the process of focusing on the implementation of the NSW syllabus for the Australian curriculum English K–10 and the book forum seemed a good way to explore aspects of the syllabus together. Secondly, while the areas of gifted and talented and wellbeing were being targeted, there was a gap in the communities’ academic connection. Lastly, it sounded exciting and challenging for both students and teachers. Collaborating for success The process began in earnest following a conversation with the Principal of Banks Public School, which led to a proposal being submitted to the STEPS Principal’s Network. The proposal was accepted, a committee formed and the planning begun. Notes taken on the day revealed the key components for to the success of the event. These included: • the right selection of texts • an independent moderator • event sponsorship. The close coordination of the whole project by the committee enabled democratic decision making to occur across the St Clair/Erskine Park schools and this close collaboration was also a key factor in the success of the project. The group met on several occasions to assess progress and to share ideas. Checks were in place to monitor how each school was progressing. Selection of texts Although connecting the forum to the annual Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book Week seemed an obvious choice and ultimately decided the timing of the event, the selection of the texts to discuss and examine at the event required some thought. A number of factors guided the eventual selection of the picture book category shortlist including: • accessibility for a range of students in Years 5-8 • STEPS schools had a strong working knowledge of authentic texts and visual literacy to build on • the picture book medium offers a great range of themes that were suitable for discussion in the panel format of the forum.
Volume 34 Issue 1
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