Last week I ran some sessions with my Year 12 Applied Literacy students based around helping them design their own curriculum. It consisted of a sort of open worksheet/grid, with the broad literacy outcomes listed in one column and three open/blank columns with the headings 'My Trade', 'GTEC projects' (meaning the projects they are involved in at or as part of school), and 'Personal Interest'. From there it was just a lot of chatting as the groups negotiated with me about what sorts of material would best fit where, some note-taking on the grid, then reviewing and typing out the self-directed learning plan and uploading it on their Moodle course page.
Here is a sample self-designed literacy curriculum made by a carpentry student:
And here is one designed by a heavy (diesel) automotive student:
They only need to meet each outcome through two separate tasks, so having three is a bit of a safety measure, bearing in mind that topics we think of today may not be topics we want to do in 3-4 months' time. They can change any part of the grid they want at any time (including the column headers), except for the Literacy Outcomes one -- which we are obliged by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority to address if we plan to hand out Certificates in Applied Learning at the end of the year...
Basically, now they work to their own plan at their own pace in the order they feel most comfortable with from one lesson to the next. They find their own texts using the Internet, or texts they already have access to (magazines, Trade School books, etc.), access a range of writing and reading report templates I've created for them, and from there my job is to just facilitate (especially with regards to the generic program outcomes) and then assess.
In other words, we have 47 separate syllabuses running for Year 12 Literacy at GTEC this year, and there is nothing frightening about that at all.
Funnily enough, towards the end of the week I returned to my desk after a class and found a publisher's brochure sitting there waiting for me. I glanced through and found a Literacy Skills textbook on offer. I scanned through the archaic looking list of unit and topic items there, thought about the 47 syllabuses we'd generated that week, and couldn't help but notice that this coursebook someone was trying to sell to me and my students only had something that looked like a single silly bus.
I couldn't for the life of me see that book, or any other single book, ever making the cut for the classrooms I work with now.