STE[A]Ming up English

Lesley Glass

Ballajura Community College

Ballajura Community College offers a unique program to Students at Educational Risk (SAER) where we offer differentiated curriculum taught with passion. My year 7 class contains students with a variety of learning difficulties/disabilities such as Autism, ADHD, Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Dysgraphia, Epilepsy, FAS and Severe Anxiety.

This project was the culmination of a series of learning experiences over the year based around the theory of Growth Mindset. I use the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths (STE[A]M) initiative and I include the use of Higher Order Thinking (HOT) skills to help my students recognise their true potential.

My students were required to complete an assessment based on the theme Graphic Novels/Superheroes. The assessment asked them to design a Superhero, consider colour and style of costume, body language, facial expression, positioning in context to background and camera angles. As we had completed previous STEM and STE[A]M mini activities, my students were keen to include STE[A]M in our English task.

The engagement was obvious from day 1 with every students getting involved in the reading and writing component of the assessment. Research tasks involved discovering the meanings of colour and use of symbolism and how these impact the viewer. We did cooperative activities around the codes and conventions of visual texts (SWT codes) and discovered many interesting facts that related to advertisements and students discovered the power that advertisers have on consumers. They identified how different camera angles influence the emotions of viewers and were surprised at how important the background is in setting the scene of a still frame.

From these activities students began to select colours, shapes, symbols, body stance and facial expressions for their own Superhero. I had them complete a cartoon strip that explained how their superhero got their powers. From this cartoon strip they created their A4 still frame that showed their superhero in action. After designing, students needed to complete the written component that asked them to justify the choices they made, with all achieving beyond my expectations.

To include STE[A]M they decided that making a superhero doll would be exciting. That way they could get something they created in their head into their hands. The task took us 12 hours to complete in total and involved all aspects of STE[A]M which is explained in detail in the video.

STE[A]Ming HOT activities are the best way to inspire learning.