2 March 2015
A USC Education academic working to better equip students with the skills for teaching English language and literacy to school children has co-authored one of the country’s most popular textbooks on the subject.
Lecturer Carol Smith, who coordinates USC’s graduate entry Primary Education degree, is one of three Australian collaborators on the originally American book, ‘Literacy for the 21st Century: A Balanced Approach’ by Dr Gail Tompkins. The other authors are Dr Rod Campbell, who is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at USC, and David Green.
The Pearson-published book was the bestselling text for teacher education in literacy from 2012-14 and its second edition with extensive Australian content is out now.
The extra information includes case studies by Dr Campbell and Ms Smith of teaching methods and practices at schools on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane.
Dr Campbell is a highly-experienced teacher, writer and grammar specialist who has worked for 50 years at schools, colleges and universities in Australia and Asia.
Ms Smith said she was delighted the book was so popular in universities around the country, including three courses at USC this year.
“We went into local schools and looked at best practice and took videos that were sold with the book,” she said. “USC students could then access all the written and video information used in my lectures as often as they needed.”
She said ongoing changes to Australia’s curriculum in English language teaching had prompted the second edition, as well as the need to address differences between American and Australian literacy issues.
The preliminary findings of Ms Smith’s PhD on teaching English, which she expects to complete at USC in 2015, also contributed to the material in the book.
She and Dr Campbell were invited to present seminars to practising teachers in New Jersey in the US last year.
“There’s so much confusion in the public domain around terminology, language and literacy,” she said. “We emphasise the development of language skills in terms of oral language, grammar and spelling that impact on our students’ ability to speak, write, read and critically reflect on the printed word.
“There have always been disagreements about how to teach English, such as process or skills-based writing, whole language or phonics, but I think there’s more appreciation of the fact there is no single way that’s best. Our text is about finding that balance and using specific teaching strategies.”
— Julie Schomberg