Sally Humphrey

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For all learners, but particularly English Language Learners, the middle years of schooling, typically when learners are aged between I 0 and 14, are vital for developing literacies for learning and assessment. It is in these years that curriculum literacies become specialized and, increasingly in the twenty-first century, reliant on an expanded semiotic repertoire. While middle years content area teachers take responsibility for supporting the academic literacy development of English Language Learners (ELL), they are often challenged to make explicit the semiotic resources of texts needed to develop and assess knowledge. This chapter reports on the first stage of a participatory action research project that aims to support the academic literacies of middle years ELLs in an urban Australian secondary school. This stage of the project involved developing a conceptual framework, known as a "4 x 4 literacy toolkit," that could inform a whole school meta-language for explicit teaching of literacy in all content areas. The framework draws upon studies of academic literacy, using systemic functional linguistics. It was developed for use in the middle years from an analysis of 143 student texts, seven exemplar texts produced by teachers and marking criteria from the Australian national writing test. A model text written by science teachers is used to illustrate resources of the framework that are most relevant to the literacies needed by ELLs for high stakes assessment and content area learning.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Book Chapter

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