Authoring an English text : Talking with Tony Hytch

 

Tony Hytch’s long career in the Queensland education industry has seen him in everything from classrooms to examination halls. His varied experiences have gifted him an intimate knowledge of what students need in an educational resource to succeed. That’s why, recently, he has co-authored one of them with Macmillan Education.

In collaboration with fellow educator Jo Bickerstaff, Tony has created Essential English QCE Units 1&2, a textbook designed to meet the needs of students studying under the new Queensland syllabus. With the new requirement that students satisfactorily complete a Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority English subject in order to be eligible for an ATAR, engaging and accessible English resources are more important than ever.

Tony was a clear choice to form part of the Essential English team led by Olive McRae from Macmillan Education. He is currently employed as a Senior Project Officer with Brisbane Catholic Education, and has worked as Chief Examiner for External Exams (English) since 2006, in addition to teaching in a variety of Queensland schools. Tony was also involved in the construction of the mock External Assessment for English and the Common Internal Assessment for Essential English, two crucial assessments for the new Queensland curriculum.

Tony says one of Essential English’s strengths is that it is so closely built around the new curriculum. “It clearly takes the Unit Objectives from the Syllabus and scaffolds a range of learning activities to help students develop their skills in these areas.” By doing this, it improves educational outcomes for students by giving them the opportunity to use language for a range of purposes in a range of contexts. Once students have the confidence to engage with language, they can creatively and imaginatively respond. Rote learning is immediately obvious to an English examiner, so students who can develop thoughtful and flexible English skills are in a much better position to succeed. Essential English encourages this by using relevant and engaging texts and activities to create a more student-friendly feel.

Writing Essential English was a positive experience for both Tony and Jo. Meeting editor and writer Anita Heiss at the launch of her book Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia (extracts from which appear in Essential English) was a particular highlight. Tony explains, “We were confident that [using extracts] would even further raise the profile of Anita’s book and spread the beautiful message she presents in it.”

Being given the opportunity to write a textbook allows Tony to draw on his passion for educating young people. “I love that we get to work with young people and see them grow and mature and develop their understanding and interests in English.”

We all have that one teacher we can still remember, the one that sparked a love for learning. Fewer of us have the opportunity to stay in contact with these teachers, but Tony was able to send the first advance copy of Essential English he received to his Year 11 English teacher Mr Butler, along with a note thanking him for inspiring a love of English. “Winning an award at this year’s Educational Publishing Awards would be a perfect acknowledgement of the hard work done by everyone who worked on Essential English, a resource that is an authentic and engaging interpretation of the Essential English syllabus.”

And it would make Mr Butler proud!

Teachers, librarians and booksellers – tell us what you think!

Calling all teachers, librarians and booksellers to rate your favourite educational publisher.

Now is your chance to tell us what you really think!

If you buy, sell or use textbooks or other educational resources, we want you to help decide this year’s Australian Primary and Secondary Publisher of the Year.

The Educational Publishing Awards Australia celebrate excellence and innovation in educational publishing, and who better to know which companies are doing this well than our partners in education: educators and booksellers.

Please complete this short survey to have your say about educational publishers. You will be asked to rate publishers on five areas: product quality, field services, company services, marketing and innovation. The survey should take no longer than 10 minutes. The survey closes on Friday 28 June 2019 at 11:59pm AEST.

As a thank you, you will automatically go into the draw to win a $500 David Jones gift card. Your chances of winning are up from last year with the additional two Australian Book Industry

Award prize packs (a pile of new books!) also up for grabs.

The survey will ask for your email address to ensure we only receive one response per person. However the survey data is completely anonymous. The awards are organised by the Australian Publishers Association and if you have any issues, please contact gillian.haines@publishers.asn.au

Thank you for completing the survey, providing our member valuable feedback, and helping us decide the Australian Primary and Secondary educational publishers of 2019.

For more information about the Educational Publishing Awards:
edpubawards.com
twitter.com/EPAs_Aus

Thank you
The Australian Publishers Association

Complete the survey now to win one of three prizes

The Educational Publishing Awards Australia celebrate excellence and innovation in educational publishing. The event recognises publishers’ pursuit in creating cutting-edge, groundbreaking and pedagogically sound resources for teachers and students. The most coveted awards on the night are decided by the votes of our partners in education: educators, librarians and booksellers (that’s you!).

The Educational Publishing Awards will be held on Wednesday 4 September 2019 at the Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne. Proudly sponsored by the Copyright Agency. 

To purchase tickets for the Awards: http://bit.ly/EPAA19
Thank you   https://www.copyright.com.au/

 

Call for entries 2019 (now extended)

What resources are you really proud of that you produced recently and you know are making a difference in the classroom?

They could be a print resource such as a textbook or workbook, with or without a supporting teacher book, a digital only resource such as a website, CD/DVD or app), an enhanced eBook, or a blended learning resource. Whatever format they are in… enter them in the EPAAs for 2019!

Entries are open today for Australian educational publishers to submit their best learning resources made and published between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019 to the country’s eminent educational publishing awards. Enter now to be in the running!

The Educational Publishing Awards Australia will celebrate – for the 26th year in a row – excellence in producing vital learning tools used by educators and their students across primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.

This year’s awards feature two new categories: one for a scholarly non-fiction publications and the other will be announced shortly!

The venue for the awards night is already booked – The Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne – and will take place a little earlier this year, on Wednesday 4 September 2019. Tickets will go on sale soon but get the date into your diary.

The call for entries is now open:

Nominations must be submitted by Friday, 31 May 2019. (NB. This has been extended from 24 May).

Please read the conditions of entry and judging criteria before submitting your nomination here.

Whether you are a traditional publishing company, a niche publisher or a digital start-up, do enter, because we would love to consider and recognise your learning resource.

The awards will be presented in Primary, Secondary, Tertiary and TAFE & Vocational Education categories as well as the Primary and Secondary Publisher of the Year.

Take a look at the list of 2019 categories here.

How do I enter?

Entries are made via this digital platform.

Head to this link to read the criteria for each category and follow the prompts to submit your learning resource.

Judging 2019

Judging of the awards is a rigorous process for all involved. Back for a fourth year in a row is Chief Judge, Professor Angela Carbone, Associate Dean (Learning Innovation), Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology at Swinburne University of Technology. An overall winner for each sector (Primary, Secondary and Tertiary and TAFE & Vocational) will be selected by the Chief Judge from the category winners.

Interested to see who won in 2018? Or need a reminder?

Take a look here at the full list of previous winners.

2019 could be your year. Start submitting and we look forward to hosting you in Melbourne on 4 September.

 

Keep up to date and join the conversation:

W: edpubawards.com

T: @EPAs_Aus

F: facebook.com/edpubawards

 

A winning language resource for teachers and students

The Award for Outstanding Secondary Resource was in 2018 won by Cengage Learning for their French learning text, Tapis Volant. Translated as ‘flying carpet’ referring to the many countries where French is spoken, the series first appeared in 1995 as a student workbook, student book, teacher resource book and audio cassettes.

The Australian Publishers Association, coordinators of the Educational Publishing Awards of Australia, spoke with Catriona McKenzie, Senior publisher of Nelson (a Cengage company) to learn more about transitioning Tapis Volant’s older editions to align with the current Australian curriculum, involving many teachers as authors and advisers.

From Catriona McKenzie:

The original edition of Tapis Volant related its material to a context near where Australian students live (e.g. the Pacific on the east, the Indian Ocean countries on the west). So the first two editions included characters, situations, and cultural information from New Caledonia, Mauritius, Réunion, Vietnam, etc., as well as from France and Australia.

The first three editions took into consideration the range of state syllabus requirements, but the 4th edition, the one which won an EPAA, was written in accordance with the Australian Curriculum and this is one of the major reasons for the update of this series.

A cover change

In Tapis Volant editions 1, 2 and 3 the icon was a person on a flying carpet. However, in the 4th edition, a black cat was chosen as it is a typical French icon reflecting the first cabaret founded in Paris in the mid-19th century.

Storyline and context

In Tapis Volant 3e the key contexts of the dialogues, the story line and cultural backgrounds shifted back to France, in response to requests from teachers. There were still references and characters from other places where French is spoken, including New Caledonia and Australia as well as Europe (Belgium and Switzerland), Africa (including Mauritius, Madagascar and the Seychelles), North Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia), the Caribbean and Canada.

Edition 4 additions

Like edition three, along with the usual textbooks and workbooks, there was also a NelsonNetBook component, and a comprehensive website with digital resources for students and teachers.

In every unit of Tapis Volant 4e Student Books and Workbooks, the inclusion of new features such as ‘Find out more’, ‘What do you think’, ‘Reflect and create’, ‘Let’s compare French and English’, ‘Let’s communicate in French’ with associated tasks, provide students with the opportunity to engage in a range of activities and to apply their language learning.

The auto-evaluation section has been enriched by including more grammar problem-solving activities (students are asked to reflect on how the language works rather than being told). A new section, ‘Mise au point’, invites students to reflect on their work and devise strategies to improve their learning (‘learning how to learn’).

Trends in language learning

The current focus on task-based language learning to develop a range of communicative skills and intercultural competencies seems to still prevail in second language acquisition methodology. Reflecting today’s digital teaching and learning, there is a variety of features integrated in the e-book as well as the digital activities on the website, all of which have a range of methodological implications. A diverse range of teaching styles and philosophies is possible, just as there is always a range of ways in which students prefer to learn and/or opportunities for new ways of learning. The 4th edition was carefully designed to respond to these changes with the focus on the student, rather than follow any ‘latest trend’.

The team (including teachers)

Many individuals collaborated on the Tapis Volant 4e series, including authors, teachers, students, curriculum advisers, language consultants and proofreaders, together with more than 20 Cengage employees including editors, designers and illustrators, sales and marketing representatives, production personnel, audio personnel, and digital teams.

The authors have throughout all four editions been indebted to the excellent advice and editing of freelance editor, Ingrid de Baets.

For the 4th edition, Kellie Dickson, a secondary teacher of French at McKinnon Secondary College reviewed the core manuscripts and was a co-author of the Teacher Toolkit. Kellie’s input provided invaluable elements of classroom practicality and awareness of student needs and curriculum requirements.

There has always been extensive teacher involvement throughout all editions of Tapis Volant. The teacher reviewers for the various components of the course have provided suggestions for topics, their sequencing and content, the progression of difficulty of language, the style of exercises, the wording of questions, ideas for assessment, the importance of ‘scaffolding’ for student tasks, and the significance or otherwise of various aspects of the culture.

There has from time to time been student feedback on the engaging nature of the characters and their stories as well as criticism of the characters and their appearance!

Classroom outcomes

The feedback has been very positive. Students are enjoying the updated photographs and content, variety of core skill practice and relevance and interest of topics such as the environment and fashion (Book 2), handy vocabulary lists at the end of each chapter, online activities such as the videos and the comprehensive preparation for senior studies via Workbook tasks which can be completed in French or English.

Thoughts on the EPAA win

The Tapis Volant series has been well received for more than twenty years by teachers of French throughout Australia. This is due in part to the authors’ continued enthusiasm and shared beliefs and educational principles about teaching and learning French, as well as their skill in developing humorous and lively dialogues that students can relate to, linked story lines to maintain student interest, the constant interplay of cultural differences, and contemporary language modelling.

There is also no doubt that the diversity and range of exercises and activities has been pleasing to students and teachers across a wide range of different schools in Australia.  There is also a range of supplementary activities, some closely related to the unit language, others more general; videos, audio listening texts, worksheets with scaffolding for speaking activities, extension activities, curriculum support and connections, games, online activities for revision and consolidation, drawing posters, and even making a short film. Students are provided with opportunities for task- based, collaborative and independent learning that can be completed in classrooms or at home.

Skin Deep Innovation in Tertiary Learning Resources

Personal experience and a passion for innovation through customer feedback, has led hair and beauty expert, Hayley Costa from Skin Deep Learning, to not only dive into the world of educational publishing but also win the highest honour for tertiary/vocational learning resources at the Educational Publishing Awards of Australia this year.

Skin Deep Learning’s resources look like a beauty magazine you’d pluck off the shelf at a newsagency. Yet behind the covers are the results of involved student research and creative thinking that helps trainers to teach and inspire students of hair and beauty to be more knowledgable about their craft – giving them more opportunities in their future.

The journey to being a publisher for vocational learning started for Ms Costa when she was a salon owner who employed new VET graduates. She went on to become a beauty trainer in the VET sector, later writing for resources, and also working as a Registered Training Organisation compliance officer.

“It was the culmination of these experiences that allowed me to see the gap in the market.  What I saw was a lack of resources that were engaging to the learner and gave the trainer the support they needed. So resources with a combined teacher and student focus, that worked in with compliance matters, was born in Skin Deep Learning.”

Skin Deep Learning creates learning resources that are a full assessment system for both teachers and students in the hair and beauty field. “With these resources,” Ms Costa says, “teachers can put their focus into what they do best – training and assessing – rather than spending countless hours writing training materials.

“Our learning products are a safe option for Registered Training Organisations, as they have been thoroughly audited and validated. The trainer can feel comfortable knowing their compliance needs are met.”

In the concept phase, research was conducted on graduate demographics focusing on their understanding and satisfaction of the resources that were available at the time. This was combined with Ms Costa’s personal experience as a trainer.

“I was deeply troubled as a teacher by the level of understanding and engagement by students in the theory of the subjects. These students were great on the practical side but were struggling to grasp the theory and getting them to read a textbook or black and white word-based documents was like “pulling teeth.”

“I had a pivotal moment thinking about what beauty and hairdressing students read, engage with, and enjoy. The answer was fashion magazines and social media. I wanted to develop a learning resource that was targeted in its approach, that provided the student with all of the information they needed to know, and was presented in a way that was not daunting or ‘like school’.”

“The language style is really important too. The conversational writing approach was used to  invite the student on a learning journey, and limit any intimidation potentially caused by formal language. The content emphasises the key points to students in an easy to understand way and uses real world examples that students can relate to.

“It may seem simple but there is a lot of thought and strategy into developing the magazine-style learning materials.They look like a magazine, but they have to deliver learning outcomes.

Therefore, we had to come up with a new style that is a hybrid between a magazine and textbook.”

In order to bring the resources to life, Ms Costa admits that she needed assistance.

“I needed help from a graphic designer. We sat together and worked through everything page by page. This was expensive and time consuming, but worth it, as it provided us with a set of templates and methodology. I got a few grey hairs managing all of the content and the magazine layout, but all in the day of the life of an editor!”

Since the resources were first trialled in 2014, a strong product has been recreated due to Ms Costa’s constant connection with teachers and others in the sector. “Without their encouraging remarks, and pestering me to produce more units, I may have just given up a time or two.”

Skin Deep Learning has a philosophy of continual improvement built into a customer/teacher feedback mechanism. This allows design thinking and co-creation principles to guide the development of the resources on an ongoing basis.

“We have a very active customer base. We get feedback on our resources from trainers, students, people in industry, product companies, auditors and compliance personnel. We also have an on-line community which is an additional source of vital information, as it allows trainers and students to chat with each other about assessments and ask for help or give feedback on the resources.

“It’s through these feedback channels that we gain lots of new information which helps us to continuously improve the resources.

“We have systems and processes to manage this information which results in unit updates and our annual Continuous Improvement Report.  Every year our resources improve with these multiple sources of feedback, which means all RTOs benefit from the wide range of feedback we receive.”

The resources initially took somewhere between four and nine months to create – but they are always changing and improving. It’s these systems that Ms Costa says are the greatest lesson in her venture thus far.

“I have learnt a great deal on this journey but my take home message from the last phase of business expansion was around systems and structures. They are the only way to increase productivity and keep errors and unnecessary re-work to a minimum.  I learnt that in order to meet demand, we had to publish fast, so systems and structure was pivotal. These also impact version control.”

What is next for Skin Deep Learning?  “Well we have a number of ideas that will build on the foundation we have created and further innovation in the vocational education market.  These will be outside our current markets and of course we will go for the high-volume, high-value courses. Wait and see 2019 should be another transformational year for Skin Deep Learning.”

Skin Deep Learning was awarded two awards at the 25th Educational Publishing Awards of Australia, which were judged by a panel of experts – including teachers – led by Chief Judge Associate Professor Angela Carbone, from Swinburne University.

The Educational Publisher Awards Australia showcase excellence and innovation in the field of educational publishing.

View the full list of winners.