Analysis of Design Choices
Writing is fundamental in equipping students with communication and thinking skills, thus making the learning process visible and successful. According to Graham (2006), “students who do no write well cannot fully draw on its power to support and extend learning.” It means that writing skills are crucial skill in literacy learning. Writing also serves as a medium to express ideas, experiences, feelings, share information, tell stories, and connect with our loved ones and peers. Additionally, writing makes the students thinking ability visible and lasting. According to Wolcott (2008), “writing is thinking,” which helps students learn, thus improving their literacy learning. Therefore, writing skills is a critical skill in education. According to Winch et al. (2014) and Winch et al. (2020), writing is a fundamental part of students’ literacy learning process. They also argue that writing enhances students’ communication skills. Also, Bangert-Drowns et al. (2004) say that writing improves students’ learning. Writing reinforces students’ learning by the “functional complementarity between speech and writing” (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2013). It also improves students’ reading skills (Jenkins et al., 2004). According to Graham et al. (2013), writing help students to collect, preserve and disseminate information widely and effectively.
Additionally, literacy is important in healthy food and nutrition learning (Colatruglio et al., 2014; Doustmohammadian et al., 2020). According to the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (2013), healthy food and nutrition are fundamental for healthy children’s healthy growth and development. The Australian Curriculum and Australian Dietary Guidelines provide types and amounts of foods, food groups, and dietary patterns to enhance health and well-being and reduce the risk of chronic diseases and diet-related conditions. Establishing healthy eating habits in childhood is essential as these behaviours track into adulthood (Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2011; Nicklaus & Remy, 2013). Therefore, providing education to pupils and students about healthy eating practices is vital. Schools offer an ideal setting for implementing health promotion and prevention initiatives because it gives continual, close contact with children (Lee, 2009). The school infrastructure, curricula, policies, physical environment, and teaching environment (teaching, learning, and teachers) influences child health. Teachers are the main agents in promoting healthy food and nutrition learning within schools (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2013). Teachers help students to read, write and discuss food and nutrition to enhance their food literacy. Therefore, the unit work and three lesson plans aim to integrate writing in a series of measurement lessons to provide and assist students in improving their understanding and knowledge of healthy food and nutrition (ACPPS036) at the same improve their writing skills (ACELY1694).
Multiple activities and practices are designed to enhance students’ healthy food and nutrition literacy and writing skills in the three lesson plans. In lesson 1, students must recognize five food groups, address the role of food and their nutrition, collect information, create their healthy eating plate, and share with their peers. Also, they are required to collect new words and create their food and nutrition vocabulary. In lesson 2, students are required to discuss the importance of nutrition on the human body and how it can affect human health and extend their food and nutrition vocabulary. In lesson 3, students must identify characteristics of the information report, recognize and understand different food groups, and plan, draft and publish information on food and nutrition healthy eating topic. All these activities will develop students’ understanding and knowledge of healthy food and nutrition. Also, it will develop their reading, writing, thinking, and communication skills.
Moreover, those activities and practices in the three lesson plans meet the requirements of the Australian Curriculum English Year 4 achievements. It states that students experience learning in familiar contexts, interact with peers and teachers, and engage with various texts for enjoyment. Students also “create a range of imaginative, informative and persuasive types of texts include narratives, procedures, performances, reports, reviews, poetry and expositions” (Australian Curriculum (a), n.d.).
Furthermore, activities like recognizing five food groups in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and addressing the role of food in their nutrition are in line with the Australian Curriculum Connection curriculum guidelines: Food and well-being. It requires young Australians to understand and value the importance of good nutrition for health and well-being (Australian Curriculum (b), n.d.). Therefore, the scope of learning in food and well-being stated in the three lessons plans reflect relevant Australian Curriculum content. Moreover, according to the Australian Health and Physical Education Curriculum, by the end of year 4, students are required to recognize, interpret, and discuss the influence on healthy and safe choices (Australian Curriculum (c), n.d.). Australian students are required to learn food and nutrition in year 4 to support their health and well-being. Therefore, the lesson plan meets the curriculum achievement standards. Year 4 students are also required to communicate, clarify and present ideas using reports, simple flow diagrams, and modelling objects as stated in the Australian Curriculum Design and Technologies (Australian Curriculum (d), n.d.). In the lesson plan, students are required to plan, draft and publish information on food and nutrition – a health easting topic. Therefore, meeting the curriculum achievement standards. Therefore, the scope of the unit of work and three lesson plans reflects content from across the Australian Curriculum.
Designing the unit of work and the three lesson plans reflects the Teaching and Learning Cycle (TLC). Derewianka and Jone’s improved framework of the TLC is used to design a unit of work (Derewianka & Jones, 2016). The model emphasizes reading and oral language as a medium into writing through talking, reading, listening and writing in auxiliary context. The model is also used in planning and teaching students through critical conversation (Rossbridge & Rushton, 2014). Derewianka and Jone’s improved framework of the TLC has four stages:
Building knowledge of the field
Modelling the text/deconstruction
Guided practice/joint construction
The unit of work and three lesson plans draw on the four stages to facilitate students’ learning of healthy food and nutrition and writing.
In the first stage, students are required to develop knowledge of the topic through students’ shared understanding of the learning topic and develop a collective bank of knowledge through books, videos, and websites (Winch et al., 2020). Common tasks in this stage include guided discussions about the topic, experiments, excursions, mind mapping or brainstorming, note-taking, and vocabulary building (Victoria State Government, 2019). Therefore, activities in the lesson plan such as students watching a video about the five food groups and then talking to peers to share information gathered through the video and prior knowledge before the lesson about healthy food and nutrition aims to build students’ knowledge of the topic. In the activity whereby students are required to identify any vocabulary in AGHE poster, information report “Foods around the World” and “An Apple Day” and choose words to put on the Word Wall, students enhance knowledge and knowledge of the topic. It also reinforces their writing skills. Additionally, home reading tasks, note-taking, summarizing, and oral report preparation enhance the students’ reading and communication skills.
The second stage, modelling the text/deconstruction, focuses on the target genre’s language text. The stage includes explicit teaching stages of a text in defining technical terms in an explanation (Victoria State Government, 2019). During this stage, teachers teach students technical metalanguage. Using a mentor or model text, students can different stages of the text and their purpose, find and highlight keywords, ask questions that require close-reading, create flowcharts, and other tasks to build the field and linguistic knowledge. “An Apple Day” task is a selected text used to model the text structure to the students. Using this text, students can acquire information about healthy food and nutrition and find keywords, phrases or sentences which help them understand the text. Through a close reading of this text, students can extract the meaning from the text and carefully examine the use of language (grammar tense), thus improving their linguistic knowledge. Additionally, the students are required to follow instructions and prompt questions when reading AGHE texts. These activities meet the tasks required in the second stage.
The third stage, guided practice/joint construction, is the critical stage of the TLC because it collates the learning that occurred in the previous stages. The third stage focuses on the “composition of text through directed and informed dialogue where students are guided by an expert ‘other’, usually the teacher” (Victoria State Government, 2019). Students can generate ideas and suggest the composition of text, but the teacher should refine those suggestions, question, paraphrase or extend students’ ideas to demonstrate the written languages associated with the genre (Rossbridge & Rushton 2015; Winch et al., 2020). In the three lesson plans, the teacher introduces the topic of food and nutrition via video¸ teacher display and explain the AGHE poster, the teacher clarify any questions on Word Wall. The teacher model writing with the class on the board – topic “Fat.” Besides, the teacher explains the vocabulary and discuss new words to put on Word Wall. Moreover, the teacher support students in brainstorming for ideas creating a report about the topic- “Fat.” Through this joint construction can bring together learning that has occurred in other stages.
The last stage is the independent construction or independent composition. At this stage, students are ready to work on their texts based on the understanding of genre and language acquired through modelling and guided practice (Victoria State Government, 2019). The role of the teacher at this stage is to guide students in designing and composing texts independently. This stage, therefore, enhances critical thinking and creativity. In the lesson plan, the teacher supervises students’ independent writing. Students can choose healthy eating topics based on their collected data and information from different sources such as Word Wall. Therefore, building the understanding of the selected topic and writing skills of the students.
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