Improving Academic Literacy in Our Senior Students

Notes and links from the SAETA State Conference session, June 3rd 2017.

Hope you enjoy the presentation!



Functional Grammar – Field, Tenor & Mode

Register Continuum

Handouts / Factsheets


Germanic vs Latinate


Clarity and Conciseness

Readability Statistics


  • University of Alberta’s fact sheet on Science Writing:
  • The DECD Literacy Secretariat had some excellent resources which are now mostly available on the DECD Intranet. One that was particularly useful is available via DECD intranet > Educating >  Numeracy and Literacy > Literacy resources > Engaging and Exploring writing in the secondary years. Sorry Non-DECD schools, these are only available for DECD employees.
  • If you haven’t already, every English teacher in Australia really really needs to check out the English Textual Concepts website developed by the English Teachers Association of NSW. It is basically a catalogue of the content we need to teach. Our primarily skills based subject can sometimes feel content-lite, especially to new teachers. Go here if you want to know what it is we actually need to teach and when. This is a brilliant achievement.
  • If you can get someone to pay for you, I recommend the How Language Works course. If you have to pay the $4000+ fee for yourself, give it a miss. Literacy for Learning is How Language Works lite; I don’t recommend it. More details here:


Printable: Persuasive Language Handout

Persuasive Language Handout 1

In Australia our national standardised tests (called ‘NAPLaN’) have caused an intense focus on persuasive writing. It’s a good thing to focus on anyway, as argument and critical reasoning are all important higher order thinking skills.

I created this handout in 2010 to print and laminate for my year 8 students. It’s basically a pretty collection of random persuasive language elements I’d collected around the internet. I’m afraid I couldn’t identify the sources of this information, so I would be grateful if someone could tell me which websites the information comes from

The ‘Words with Power’ is based on this handout from Scholastic:

Read Write Think

The diagram in the handout comes from a Read, Write, Think handout. Read Write Think is my favourite literacy website. It is run by not-for-profit International Reading Association and I love that it is fully free and well intentioned. And the resources are good. The ‘Think’ part of the title is the key: it posits higher order thinking as an essential part of literacy. Most American education resources are too simplistic for my uses.

They’ve since revised the handout I used (it looks different but is essentially the same), but their persuasive writing resources are incredible. Personal favourite is the Persuasion Map which I use extensively with my middle school classes. Another goodie is the Persuasive Strategies powerpoint though I would probably download it and reformat it (I can’t stand Comic Sans). Other great strategies can be found here. I even think I used their lesson plan on writing a letter about school issues for the assignment I created this handout for.


DOCX: Persuasive Language Handout 1

PDF: Persuasive Language Handout 1.

Printable: Draw a Maneki Neko (Japanese Lucky Cat)

What is it?

A printable fact sheet about Maneki Nekos (Japanese Lucky Cats). Seriously awesome: who doesn’t love Lucky cats?

I collated information from several different websites to create this fact sheet to use in a lesson on Japanese culture.

It includes the instructions on how to draw lucky cats, shamefully stolen from this website:,-maneki-neko,-lucky-cat.htm and general (and very basic) about the symbolism of different types of Maneki Neko (derived mostly from

How it’s used:

As part of the Australian National Curriculum, Year 8’s can cover Shogunate Japan (the Edo period) in History. The Maneki Neko originates in the late Edo period to Meiji period.

The idea is students will either draw their own Maneki Neko or colour in a template, choosing the style and symbols which are important to them; and potentially learning a bit about Japanese culture in the meantime.

Update: I’ve since delivered this task two times. Students seem to really love it!


2011 401 Draw a Maneki Neko (DOCX)

2011 401 Draw a Maneki Neko (PDF)