Our Year 11 Applied Learning students have completed their intensive foundation literacy course in Term 1 (mainly geared around some literacy basics and integrated with tool and workplace safety considerations) and next week many of them will commence the next (Intermediate VCAL) level.
Based on a revision of what we did with students last year, and bearing in mind we teach 16-17 year old learners preparing for trades, here's what we have in store for them...
The learners read a complex text written by a teacher, talking about a particular skill or attribute he has. The text explores where the skill might have developed from (in childhood experience), how it helps in professional life now, and how it might be developed further for different future applications.
Following a range of comprehension tasks targeting purpose, main ideas, supporting ideas and effectiveness of the text, students then compare this text with one they did themselves last term listing their own skills and attributes (with the comparison being more about how the texts are organised and presented).
Students then write their own 'in the know' texts, talking about a particular skill or attribute of their own.
The learners work their way through an assignment that helps them identify all sorts of important information about their given trade and regulations governing apprenticeships. It features everything from trade-specific union details to government regulations and minimum wages for different years of an apprenticeship.
Based on what they find and read, the learners compile a detailed report to present the important information.
The learners read an advisory/instructional text from one of the country's most popular recruitment websites explaining what should go into resumes for school leavers. After demonstrating a comprehension of the text, they compare it to an actual resume made for an apprentice electrician and see how and where the resume applies the specific advice from the article.
Of course, from there the learners go ahead and create their own work resume.
The learners read two very different texts that both present information about they key (pun intended) tools for locksmithing. They complete comprehension questions and a detailed comparison of the two texts (particularly in terms of which would be more useful for a beginner level locksmith apprentice).
Following that the learners create their own 'tools of the trade' texts, targeting 4-6 of the most important tools they think new apprentices need to know about for their own trades and emulating the more informative of the two texts they read about locksmithing tools.
The learners read two different texts explaining how to do or build something. They demonstrate comprehension of both texts and compare them in detail, commenting on their effectiveness.
Based on the text they found to be clearest or most useful, the students then create their own how to texts, based on a process or outcome common to their personal interest or work experience to date.
The learners compose work journals based on a period of work placement, integrated with material they already put together for their Work Related Skills modules.
Following this they then look at two fellow students' work journals and complete some comprehension and comparison/effectiveness notes. This, in addition to comprising reading comprehension outcomes, becomes a feedback process for students to adapt and improve their own initial work journal drafts.
The learners read an extensive comment made on a forum about the topic of bullying apprentices at work (in this case an older experienced tradesperson reflecting on his own experiences and lambasting some of the comments from younger people on the forum claiming that bullying is just fun and games). They then compare this with a recent report on a news website explaining new laws and punishments for workplace bullying in the wake of the suicide of a young person who was bullied mercilessly at work.
Based on what they have read and explored, the learners are asked to respond to the question: Should workplace bullies be sent to jail? They have the option of completing an argumentative or discursive piece on the topic.
Students read a text from a newspaper about the issue of Lewis Hamilton being fined for 'hooning' and having his car impounded while in Melbourne for the Grand Prix a couple of years ago. In the same article, Mark Webber is quoted as saying that his own state (Victoria) has become a 'nanny state'.
This text is explored and compared to two other texts: one about a journalist who lost his own brother at a young age from a road accident (in response to Mark Webber's comment and quoting all sorts of statistics based on Victoria's TAC campaigns), and an obituary article written by our school's own principal following the horrific road accident death of one of our own students (weeks after he obtained his license) a couple of years ago.
Based on these readings, learners are then invited to respond to the question: Do we in fact live in a 'nanny state' in Victoria, when it comes to road rules?
All of this material is facilitated through our Moodle LMS, with both in-class and distance mode options available. And of course, in support of the 'emergent' curriculum, learners are free to replace any or all of these units with ones of their own design -- so long as they can show that they are meeting the VCAL Literacy outcomes at Intermediate level.
Later I'll present Part 2 of this applied literacy curriculum business and try to demonstrate how we do things at Year 12 level. Very different!