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EDFD691 Curriculum Literacies

Unit rationale, description and aim

Pre-service teachers need to develop a strong understanding of how to meet the literacy needs of learners from diverse language and cultural backgrounds.

Pre-service teachers will then develop their knowledge and skills to critically analyse the literacy demands of their curriculum, determining the diverse strengths and needs of their students, and designing instruction that will meet the needs of all learners. Literacy will be considered in relation to the Australian Curriculum and needs for differentiation (or adjustments) to curriculum/learning outcomes, environment, assessment and instruction for students with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Pre-service teachers will also explore approaches to explicit evidence-based instruction of foundation skills that may be needed by a very few students. Finally, pre-service teachers consider collaboration with parents and others within the community that can support children and adolescents to develop their literacy, knowledge, skills and practices within the wider community.

The aim of this unit is to develop pre-service teachers’ in-depth understanding of the range of literacies required for learning and assessment within specific curriculum areas of secondary school and the foundation skills and processes of reading and writing.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe and explain the various facets and general capabilities of literacy, as well as the process and progression of these capabilities for learners, in general and specific to the teachers' disciplines. (GA1, GA5, GA8; APST 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.5, 5.4)

LO2 - Critically evaluate classroom practice in the teaching of literacy (GA4; APST 1.5, 1.3, 3.6)

LO3 - Apply relevant meta-language in identifying the literacy knowledge, skills and understandings embedded in various content areas and be aware of the terminology used in relevant state, territory and national curriculum documents (GA5, GA8; APST 2.1, 3.3)

LO4 - Design, implement and evaluate teaching and learning programs that incorporate literacy-informed approaches to knowledge building (GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 1.2, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.5, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.6, 5.4)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1.5 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

2.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

2.2 Organise content into an effective learning and teaching sequence.

2.5 Know and understand literacy and numeracy teaching strategies and their application in teaching areas.

3.2 Plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies.

3.3 Include a range of teaching strategies.

3.4 Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.

3.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge of strategies that can be used to evaluate teaching programs to improve student learning.

5.4 Demonstrate the capacity to interpret student assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice.


Topics will include:

Part 1: 

  • The nature of literacy and language and their role in learning in the different areas of the curriculum
  • Language as a social process, meta-language in context
  • Constructions of literacy in relevant state, territory and national curriculum and support documents from upper primary level through to secondary level
  • The structure of different types of spoken, written, visual, graphic and multimodal texts
  • Introduction to the systems of grammar at both sentence and discourse level, and the corresponding terminology
  • Pedagogical and curriculum frameworks for the infusion of multimodal texts into secondary teaching.

Part 2:

  • Strategies to identify and evaluate the literacy needs of diverse students 
  • Developing individual literacy plans for diverse learners
  • Individual explicit instruction and formative feedback through student conferences

Part 3:

  • A range of strategies used for the explicit teaching of literacy, including:
  • The relationship between linguistics and knowledge building, for example, Maton’s “semantic waves” and Martin’s “power trio” as pedagogical frameworks
  • Strategies to support the building of vocabulary in context
  • Scaffolding instructional materials to address diversity in literacy capabilities,
  • Teaching comprehension/meta-cognitive strategies that improve literacy,

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Pre-service teachers should anticipate undertaking 150 hours of study for this unit, including engaging with the online materials, readings, discussion forums and assignment preparation. The unit will be delivered in three distinct parts over the course of the first year.  There will be a range of synchronous and asynchronous activities, comprised of directed tasks and self-study, offered to support learning, which will be delivered through a blend of on-campus and online learning experiences. This combination ensures that participants can engage with critical literature pertinent to learning outcomes, manage their own learning concurrent with their two-year employment-based teaching placement, and participate in face-to-face sessions that better facilitate practical development of skills that require a balance of instructor-led modelling, role plays, rehearsals and other approximations of practice.

 Developmentally, teaching and learning within the unit will progress from more heavily face-to-face, directed learning tasks grounded in the development of a robust understanding of the various facets and general capabilities of literacy, and the general high-leverage literacy teaching and learning strategies utilised to promote learning. As pre-service teachers progress through this first phase of the unit, they enter their employment-based placement, where they begin to situate their initial learning in the context of applied practical experience. Thus, the emphasis within the unit becomes a release of responsivity onto the participant, with greater self-directed learning as they strengthen their understanding of the language of literacy knowledge and skills, with particular focus on their disciplinary areas. Pre-service teachers apply their literacy learning to the contexts of their classroom and students, first emphasising an assessment-centred approach to developing an understanding of the literacy strengths and needs of their students, and later the development and implementation of literacy-centred teaching and learning programming that supports the development of knowledge within their disciplinary areas for all students. By the end of the unit, pre-service teachers will have fully developed and synthesised a comprehensive base of knowledge focused on literacy-informed teaching, based on their multiple applications to practice, culminating with critical evaluation of teaching and learning they have led in an authentic context.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures is used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes and professional standards and criteria consistent with university assessment requirements.

The assessment strategy reflects a theory-to-practice developmental approach to the unit, which begins with locating and synthesising key concepts related to the focus of the unit and, through written communication, providing a sound rationale for the teaching of literacy. This will ensure that participants demonstrate appropriate knowledge, values, attitudes and skills relevant to this key aspect of the profession: namely that all teachers, regardless of their disciplinary area, are teachers of literacy and that literacy development is essential to academic success for all learners. The assessment strategy then emphasises and reflects the practice-centred nature of this course’s employment-based model, which enables learners to create and critically evaluate and reflect upon their professional duties as teachers. In the context of this unit, this is best evidenced by participants’ ability to gather and analyse assessment evidence that demonstrates their understanding of the literacy profiles of their students, as well as their ability to develop and implement literacy-focused programming that enables all students to access curriculum knowledge and experience academic success. The progression of assessment tasks reflects the development of both theoretical and applied knowledge as participants first gather diagnostic evidence of a diverse range of students, and then develop appropriate teaching and learning opportunities based on literacy-informed teaching strategies. The unit’s assessment culminates in the complex task of developing and delivering differentiated instruction, followed by critical reflection.

In order to pass this unit, pre-service teachers are required to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes by submitting all assessment tasks and obtain a combined final mark of at least 50 per cent.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1 

Develop a rationale for the teaching of literacy in a learning area other than English with reference to the curriculum documents and the literature. 

Identify and discuss one teaching strategy that that supports your rationale for the teaching of literacy. 


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2

Create a profile of the literacy strengths and needs of three different students in relation to a specified curriculum learning and assessment goal. Explain what diagnostic data you utilised to determine students' literacy capabilities, strengths and needs.

Develop, implement and reflect on plans that address the varied needs of the students profiled. Plans should include instruction and/or intervention targeted to whole class, small groups and individuals.

 Critically evaluate the implementation of those approaches and implications for future practice.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 3

Building literacy for diverse students: profile three examples of planning and teaching – one that addresses the needs of a whole group, one that addresses the needs of a small group, and one that addresses an individual student’s needs related to literacy.

For each example, provide a situational analysis that explains what specific assessment evidence or student data you drew upon, and what theoretical evidence of best practice informed your choice, outline your choice, and evaluate its impact on the different learners in each case.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Derewianka, B., & Jones, P. (2016). Teaching language in context. Oxford University Press. 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016.

Freebody, P., Maton, K., & Martin, J. R. (2008). Talk, text, and knowledge in cumulative, integrated learning: A response to 'intellectual challenge'. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 31(2), 188.

Gibbons, P., & Gibbons, P. (2009). English learners, academic literacy, and thinking: Learning in the challenge zone  (pp. 118-130). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Humphrey, S. (2017). Academic Literacies in the Middle Years: A Framework for Enhancing Teacher Knowledge and Student Achievement. UK: Routledge.Oxford 

Macnaught, L., Maton, K., Martin, J. R., & Matruglio, E. (2013). Jointly constructing semantic waves: Implications for teacher training. Linguistics and Education, 24(1), 50–63.

Morrow, L. M., & Gambrell, L. B. (2018). Best practices in literacy instruction (6th ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Rose, D. (2011). Beating educational inequality with an integrated reading pedagogy. Literacy and social responsibility: Multiple perspectives. (pp.101-115). London: Equinox,

Rush, L., Eakle, A., & Berger, A., (2007). Secondary school literacy: What research reveals for classroom practice. Urbana III: National Council of Teachers of English.

Unsworth, L., & Thomas, A. (Eds.) (2014). English teaching and new literacies pedagogy: Interpreting and authoring digital multimedia in the classroom. New York: Peter Lang.

Wilson, A.; McNaughton, S. and Zhu, T. (2017). Subject area literacy instruction in low SES secondary schools in New Zealand. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy; v.40 n.1 p.72-85.

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