Resourcing teachers to tide the semantic wave to whole school literacy development.

Year: 2012

Author: Humphrey, Sally, Robinson, Sandra

Type of paper: Refereed paper


In this paper we report on a whole school literacy research project, Embedding Literacies in the KLA's (ELK), which has drawn on social realist and educational linguistic theories to share knowledge of how texts work across the disciplines of secondary schooling. The starting point for this endeavour is the theory of knowledge development conceptualised within the sociology of education as the semantic wave (Maton, forthcoming). The metaphor of the 'riding the semantic wave' refers to the teacher's work in unpacking and repacking discipline knowledge, which is both condensed and removed from its immediate context.  As this knowledge typically resides in 'high stakes' texts students need to read and write, knowledge of the language resources used to create academic language is essential, as is a metalanguage, which is accessible for use by teachers, students and parents but is sufficiently robust to make visible the resources of specialised academic discourses. To this end, educational linguists involved in the project have developed a framework of language resources, known as the '3x3 toolkit for academic literacies' , which was originally developed by academic literacy researchers (Humphrey, S. Martin, J.,  Dreyfus, S., and Mahboob, A. (2010) to organise the resources of tertiary level academic discourse. We report specifically on how we have adapted the 3x3 to provide resources for modelling the resources of the high stakes persuasive writing required by the Australian national literacy test (NAPLAN) across a range of disciplines as well as to assess and report on students' development and to program literacy at a whole school level. By foregrounding how particular language resources relate systematically to meanings from each metafunction at various ranks, the 3x3 not only provides a framework for teachers to interpret the criteria provided by NAPLAN but to map their own and their students' development of language for learning systematically use across the contexts of schooling.

Humphrey, S. Martin, J.,  Dreyfus, S., and Mahboob, A. (2010). A 3x3 toolkit for academic writing. In A. Mahboob N. Knight (eds.) Directions in Appliable Linguistics. London: Continuum.

Maton, K (2011). The semantic wave: A key to cumulative learning & social justice