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BEST Cluster Project: Principles of Learning and Teaching in Action. 1. What was the teaching and learning challenge to which you responded? Which PoLT did you address?.

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BEST Cluster Project:

Principles of Learning

and Teaching in Action


1. What was the teaching and learning challenge to which you responded? Which PoLT did you address?

In relation to text analysis, I found that while my Year 9 students understood the themes and narrative of their studied texts, when it came time to use this material, their unfamiliarity with the essay writing process meant that they struggled with expressing their views and opinions.

The PoLT which I addressed was:

4.1 plans sequences to promote sustained learning that builds over time and emphasises connections between ideas.


2. What was the focus of the unit of work? i.e. Key Concepts; Understandings; Essential Questions?

The focus of the unit was to ensure the Year 9 understood and could use the appropriate form and structure for essay writing to adequately express their views and opinions.

I intended that they would understand the key concepts of essay construction and would be comfortable enough with the form to be able to apply it to any essay writing, regardless of type, topic or subject area (and across all Domains).


3. What could the students already do alone? What did the students already know?

Students could form opinions and arguments in response to texts or issues.

Some of them had a basic grasp of essay form and construction.

They were aware that there were specific methods of analysing and responding to texts and issues, but not all knew how or when to do use them.


4. How were the students assisted? eg. scaffolding, modelling, questioning, mind maps etc. Show or list resources used and length of learning sequence.

  • Have class answer comprehension questions on key parts
  • of text
  • Brainstorming main themes and characters from the text
  • Brainstorm main arguments regarding the essay question- Provide model of essay format
  • Provide examples of key sentences for arguments
  • Provide ‘Hamburger’ plan of essay construction
  • Have students ‘draft’ essays before producing ‘good/final’
  • copy for assessment
  • Provide rubric with specific details of expectations for task
  • and assessment criteria
  • Give students both classroom time and ‘personal’ time to
  • work on tasks

5. Review. How successful was the learning sequence? What will the students do next?

The learning sequence was successful as almost all students produced essays in the correct format.

The students are generally now undertaking essays independently without specifically using the templates.

of the template.

As the students are now that they are comfortable with the form of response, they can now concentrate on deeper understanding and analysis of their topics.


6. Evidence: Attach relevant classroom materials, worksheets, rubrics, surveys, photographs and student work.



Answer the following questions in complete sentences and paragraphs,

use examples and quotations (including page references) from the

text to illustrate and support your comments.

1. List the characters in the novel and write a short

description (6-10 sentences) of each.

2. Why does Billy leave home?

3. Explain what it is like to be at school for Billy. How does

this compare to your own experience at school?

4. Where does Billy go when he leaves school?

5. Who is Ernie? (p.12-14).

6 Describe the ‘Motel Bendarat’. (p. 28-29)


7. How does Billy meet Caitlin?8. What does Billy’s business card say? (p. 42-43) Write a business card for yourself.9. Why does old Bill live where he does? What job do you think he did before he left his house?10. Why do you think Caitlin is not happy with her family?11. Why do you think Billy looks out for Old Bill?12. What sort of gifts do the characters give each other in the book? (p. 55, 61, 122, 127, 129l, 133, 164) Why do they give

these gifts? In what ways are they ‘simple gifts’?13. Choose three (3) events in the book that you believe are unlikely to happen in real life. Explain what they are and why you think they are not likely to occur.14. Why does Old Bill leave and where does he go?15. What do you think happens to Billy and Caitlin next/after the novel finishes?18. Before reading this book, why did you think people were homeless? Now that you have read ‘Simple Gift’, have your views about homeless people changed? If so, how? If not, why not?

The chances of the story and events in ‘The Simple Gift’ actually happening in today’s society is unlikely. Discuss.


‘The Simple Gift’ shows what occurs to several characters as they meet different

people, enter into relationships and face difficulties

The story shows events and incidents that could come from real life.

I believe that the novel shows this in an unlikely/likely way.

To illustrate this, I will examine three different parts of the story. These will be

[example], [example] and [example].

Paragraph 1

An example of something that would/wouldn’t occur in real life is ………


Paragraph 2

Another event from the novel that is unlikely/likely to occur today would be ………


Paragraph 3

Finally, a part of the story in ‘The Simple Gift’ that is possible/impossible in modern

society could be ……….



In this essay, we have shown that the events in ‘The Simple Gift’ are unlikely/likely to

occur in today’s society.

We have spoken about ……….. and how this would/would not really happen today. It is

unlikely/likely that ……….. would/would not occur in the real world. And, finally, where

………. occurs in the story of the novel, this is likely/unlikely to actually happen.

The novel seems to be trying to show a story that could occur and I believe it shows a

realistic/unrealistic view of events today.