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Put it in writing.

Title: Put it in writing: Context, text and language

Author: Joanne Rossbridge, with Kathy Rushton

Publisher: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA), 2015

Literacy educators looking for a practical, user-friendly guide to support students in meeting the writing demands of the Australian Curriculum will find Put it in writing, by Joanne Rossbridge and Kathy Rushton (2015), a valuable teaching and learning resource for primary classrooms. Inspired by Beverly Derewianka's (1990) 'pink book', Exploring how texts work, Rossbridge and Rushton's book draws on recent developments in genre theory which explore more flexible and detailed accounts of genre families, the purpose and effect of minor phases within the broad stages of narrative structure, the interaction of visual and verbal features in multimodal texts and the interpersonal use of language to express attitudes and affect.

The introduction to Put it in writing outlines the frameworks and curriculum documents informing this work, citing Professor Michael Halliday's functional model for teaching language and literacy, the Australian Curriculum: English (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2012) and the teaching and learning cycle developed by the Sydney School genre theorists (NSW Department of School Education, 1992). Readers will also find in this section a valuable explanation of the metalanguage used in the functional approach, with clear definitions and an excellent visual representation explaining the application of functional grammar to verbal and visual texts. In the three sections which follow, the authors investigate a range of text types across various curriculum areas, providing 'models, guides and processes to help teachers and their students give serious and careful thought to the texts they are reading and writing' (p. 1).

Put it in writing is structured around the three broad categories of texts outlined in the Australian Curriculum: English: imaginative, informative and persuasive (ACARA, 2012).

Section one deals with writing imaginative texts and provides three curriculum models for subject English: narrative to engage an audience, imaginative recounts and narrative to evoke feelings. Section two presents curriculum models for informative texts in the learning areas of Science, Geography and History: procedural recount, comparative report and historical recount. Section three covers writing in the persuasive world for English, Science and History: writing to evaluate behaviour, writing to persuade the community and writing to define a perspective. Each section is colour-coded for easy reference and, within the sections, each model provides a focused learning event in a specified stage of the teaching and learning cycle, such as building the field, deconstruction and joint or independent construction. The models conclude with a summary of the teaching and learning sequence and list of resources.

Reading resources draw on both print and digital content, with texts including picture books for the early years, the Disney app Don't let the pigeon run this app!, Tim Winton's novel for young readers Blueback, websites such as MapMaker and episodes from the Australian Children's Television Foundation and Education Services. A useful summary of the writing focus, year level and curriculum content descriptors for each model is provided in Appendix 1.

In addition to providing practical examples for teaching writing in a range of genres across the curriculum, Put it in writing supports teachers in their literacy pedagogy through clear explanations of the metalanguage of the functional approach. The examples and illustrations demonstrate how to apply the principles of functional grammar, with colour-coded analyses of texts and classroom artefacts showing real world examples of deconstruction and construction of texts.

In my literacy teaching in secondary English classrooms, I often used exemplars to model texts and attempted to make use of the colour-coding and metalanguage of the functional approach, but I always felt uncertain as to how well I had grasped the concepts. For any literacy teachers who have the same misgivings about applying the functional approach to teaching language and literacy, this book is exemplary. The models provide in-depth examples to assist in unpacking the meanings and uses of terms such as participants, processes and circumstances, and mode, tenor and field. I highly recommend Put it in writing as an excellent resource for teaching language and literacy across the curriculum in all year levels.

Reviewed by Margaret Toomey

Margaret Toomey is a PhD candidate at Griffith University in the School of Education and Professional Studies. Her research examines the use of digital games in the secondary English classroom.
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Author:Toomey, Margaret
Publication:Literacy Learning: The Middle Years
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 30, 2017
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