PETAA Leading with Literacy conference 2020: Reading to Write

Friday 6 and Saturday 7 November 2020 | Aerial Function Centre, Sydney

Our conference ran with great success face-to-face as planned on 6–7 November in Sydney, but was also live streamed — for the first time ever, this quality professional learning experience was accessible to all Australian teachers, regardless of location — for individuals and with whole school participation for PETAA member schools.

This conference focussed on the importance of the reading and writing connection, of ‘reading to write’ as part of literacy instruction.

  • What is the relationship between reading and writing (and talking and listening)?
  • What role does reading play in learning to write?
  • How can teachers integrate reading into the teaching of writing?

Thank you to all the participants and contributors for a very successful, powerful and inspiring hybrid event.

The intellectual rigour, theoretical framework and scope of presentations was of such a high calibre that we collectively found the Conference the most beneficial professional development experience of our teaching careers.

NSW School Teaching Team on 2020 Conference

Now for the first time the PETAA Leading with Literacy Conference 2020 is open for registration as an online, on-demand course (remains open until April 2021, program details below):

Learn more or register—Online: Reading to Write 2020

PETAA Leading with Literacy Conference 2021

Creating a powerful English and literacy education for all students

Friday 22 and Saturday 23 October 2021

Teacher and primary-age students reading

Register by 30 November 2020 to attend next year’s conference at this year's rates!


Official Conference Sponsor 2020

The Children's Book Council of Australia

Publishing Exhibitors 2020

OXFORD University Press logo

Program 2020

About the presenters   |   Location


Attending Reading to Write will contribute 13 hours of face-to-face professional learning addressing 1.2.2, 1.5.2 and 2.2.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Following Reading to Write, a certificate of attendance verifying hours and indicating the standards addressed will be issued for attendees from all states and territories.

slido logo linked to siteOver the course of the Conference, we’ll be using the interactive online program Slido to ask questions and conduct polls with our attendees, both in the room and in virtual attendance. Watch our video explaining how to use Slido, or if you are ready to start, go to and start by entering the event code emailed to participants.

Follow us on Twitter #PETAA2020



Register and connect with your fellow participants.


Welcome to Country


Welcome to the conference


Introduction — Dr Pauline Jones

The relationship between to reading and writing

An introduction to the conference exploring relationships between reading and writing and between talk and literacy.


Keynote 1 — Dr Helen Harper

Our (big) pedagogic intentions in language and literacy: Establishing some overarching strategies

This session sets the scene by exploring our big intentions as teachers of language and literacy in 2020. If I take a moment to reflect on what gets me out of bed in the morning, I would say that I want to make meaningful connections with my students, and I want to support those students to aim high, becoming successful, effective users of language. At the same time, we work in a policy context that directs us towards a plethora of teaching approaches intended to raise standards, but that we often experience as too many ‘bits’, difficult to fit into a coherent, meaning-based language program. To work towards our big intentions, it helps to return to our strong theoretical understandings from Vygotsky and Halliday: of how children learn, of our role as teachers, and of the centrality of language in that learning and teaching. From these understandings we can draw the best approaches together, foregrounding meaning and new language, and keeping our expectations high.

In this session I will share some recent work from classrooms to illustrate three overarching pedagogic strategies that we can use to work towards our big intentions, and reflect on what these strategies mean for the literacy block and across the curriculum.

Optional pre-reading: Parkin, B and Harper, H (2018) Teaching with intent: scaffolding academic language with marginalised students. Primary English Teaching Association of Australia.


Keynote 2 — Dr Bronwyn Parkin

Feeling dizzy on the pedagogic roundabout: influences in literacy education

Primary classroom teachers are faced continuously with managing changing approaches to literacy education. We have to come to terms with the changing demands of the curriculum, changing expectations of the teacher’s role, and changing expectations of the role of the student, all the while ensuring that students are meeting achievement standards.

How do we make sense of the sometimes confusing and conflicting messages about literacy priorities that we receive from school leaders, department officials and academics? To gain some sort of perspective on the never-ending roundabout, I introduce a framework that was first proposed by British sociologist Basil Bernstein, known as ’the pedagogic quadrants’. The quadrants represent the gamut of different approaches to teaching, and they can help us to think about the affordances and constraints of the literacy approaches we have on offer.

Optional pre-reading: Parkin, B and Harper, H (2019) ‘Language and Literacy Education in Remote Indigenous Schools: the Pedagogic Roundabout.’ In Mickan, P & Wallace, I (Eds) Handbook of Language Education Curriculum Design, Routledge, Sydney.


Morning Tea Day 1 | Expo Displays



Subversive leadership

The choices made by school leaders about literacy initiatives and recommended pedagogies sometimes pull teachers in contradictory and confusing directions. Teachers can sense when there are inconsistencies, even when the underlying theories are not clearly articulated.

As a primary school principal for 17 years, it was important to me to be clear and consistent, working from a theory of teaching and learning, and a theory of language, that best served our student cohort. This consistent and coherent approach provided teachers with a solid foundation for their language and literacy teaching.

In this session I’ll focus on language and literacy in the learning are of science to exemplify what Principals need to know about leading literacy learning. I will also explain how this knowledge can support teachers’ work so that it is less at the ‘whim’ of new curriculum initiatives and more focused on refining and improving practice from a solid foundation



Reading, Writing and EALD students: embracing multilingualism in the classroom

This presentation will explore ways to engage EAL/D students in reading and writing activities across the curriculum. By drawing on the cultural and linguistic resources used within homes and communities, teachers can acknowledge and utilise the skills and knowledge which English language learners bring to school. This session will describe ways of creating culturally relevant contexts for learning and suggest how teachers might enhance students’ understanding of written texts through creative and explicit teaching of language.


STREAM FOR SCHOOL LEADERS  Tim Warwick and Eron Chapman

Planning a whole school literacy program that strengthens and supports reading to writing

Our presentation will provide an understanding of our context, and how a deep understanding of this has informed a clear plan for improving student outcomes. A strong focus on empowering and rigorous literacy instruction is critical to achieving this.

We will outline how we have leveraged our instructional models for both reading and writing to provide this high impact instruction. Particularly the critical connections we foster between reading and writing, including the use of model texts, the immersion stage of the writing process, and building students’ understanding and appreciation of the writer’s life. We are excited to feature some student voice as part of our presentation.



Reading, writing and oral language assessment in the classroom

Curriculum, teaching and assessment are presented so that teachers can use assessment and teaching to monitor student progress in writing. Pro-formas, procedures and practices for diagnosis, formative assessment and summative evaluation will be presented, especially for the teaching of writing, where the development of metalanguage and content knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary occurs naturally. Assessment of reading will be considered and checklists for assessing and teaching oral language will be provided

The session will finish with practical, creative and engaging ways to teach English language knowledge for writing, reading and speaking.


Lunch Day 1 | Meet the Author Area | Expo Displays


Literature after lunch — Jennifer Asha

Jennifer Asha will share quality literature that will inspire your teaching and your students.

Let’s have a book feast!

  • Explore: delicious new titles and revisit some satisfying classics.
  • Consider: the use of rich literature in teaching and learning language and literacy.
  • Enjoy: picture books, novels for a variety of age groups, hybrid texts and graphic novels — they're all on the menu.


Keynote 3 — Dr Jon Callow

Reading to write multimodal texts: Making meaning with words and pictures

With the broadening of literacy concepts over the past 20 years to embrace the changing textual and cultural landscape, we now become literate by developing our knowledge and skills engaging with words, images, sounds, interactive digital texts and other multiple modes of communication. More ‘traditional’ reading and writing, still central to becoming literate, is now woven into other texts that involve viewing, performing, drawing, dancing, swiping, snapping, editing, winning (and losing) posting (and deleting) as well as enjoying and sharing all types of texts.

Drawing on the pedagogical principles of scaffolding successful meaning making for learners, this keynote will present an overview of some current approaches to working with multimodal texts. Considering a range of learners, including EAL/D students, working with multimodal texts should be based in rich oral language experiences, supporting students as they read and view before writing and creating. We will also look at some ways to explore visual and multimodal texts as readers, using a metalanguage, links between reading and writing, engaging children’s literature, the role of digital technology, text innovation and some practical classroom activities and ideas.

Close of Day 1




Welcome to Day 2


Keynote 4 — Dr Misty Adoniou

Teaching writing — the power and the passion

Assessment data in Australia shows the vast majority of children in the early years of schooling make a great start to reading and writing. But just when we have made it through the hard graft of helping our children learn the basics, the data shows a steady and significant decline in reading and writing achievement that begins in the middle years. Why is it that just when we get to the fun bit of reading and writing it all seems to head south? Is it a lack of skill, a lack of will or a lack of thrill — from either teachers or students?

To explore the question, I’ll share examples of inspiring student writing and the inspired teacher practice that prompted it. What will it take to ensure our students leave school revelling in the most powerful and pleasurable invention of humankind — the written word?


Morning Tea Day 2 | Expo Displays


STREAM FOR SCHOOL LEADERS Professor Beverly Derewianka

Whole School Literacy Programs: A Conversation

This session will provide leaders with an opportunity to share experiences of designing and implementing a whole school literacy program. Beverly will contribute insights gained from working with clusters of schools over a number of years – what worked well and challenges that arose.



Teaching grammar to support writing

This short workshop will involve practical strategies for linking engagement and understanding of written text through reading and applying knowledge about language to writing through deconstructing and jointly constructing texts. By looking at the language features in an extract from a picture book, oral language and metalanguage will be developed to support students to talk about choices in their own writing. Emphasis will be placed on the intention of language choices when considering an audience rather than just on the form or naming of grammatical features.



The author school collaboration

Children’s and young adult writer, primary school teacher and editor, Sue Whiting will discuss the impact of an author- school collaboration on student writing and what can be achieved when staff, students and writers work together. You'll leave this session knowing exactly how to create a writer-inresidence program that suits your unique school context.

12:15–12:55 pm


From the inside out: Prompting writing through literary experience to improve comprehension

Creating a pathway of learning experiences that engages readers with literary texts by providing opportunities for readers to take on the role of emerging writers is key to the improvement of comprehension. Research and practice prove that when students explore good books from the inside out, their motivation to write increases and their connections to text are made more meaningful. In my recent work with pre-service teachers I have collected examples of how this concept played out in online teaching using writing in role and other scaffolds. In the presentation I will share a variety of resources that stimulated literal, interpretive and inferential understanding of quality literature through writing.


STREAM FOR SCHOOL LEADERS  Dr Rod Campbell and Corinne Bushell

Reading, writing and oral language assessment: a school approach

Corinne Bushell is Head of Curriculum of a school in Logan City, and has planned, with Dr Rod Campbell, to provide staff and students with systems of assessment that support monitoring of student development of writing. The issues in this work will be presented by Corinne and Rod, including problems and solutions in choosing terms that assist moderation and that limit the effects of subjectivity in assessing writing.

Participants will have access to useful pro formas and procedures for assessing writing and oral language.

12:55–1:30 pm

STREAM FOR CLASSROOM TEACHERS Professor Beverly Derewianka

Reading model texts as a bridge to writing

When asked to write a text on the current curriculum topic, many students are not clear about what is expected. In this workshop we’ll examine how we can use model texts to support students’ writing. Rather than being tempted to simply ‘copy’ the model, students are guided to observe features of the model text that they could incorporate into their own text. We’ll do some practical activities to use in the classroom with literary and information texts.


Lunch Day 2 | Meet the Author Area | Expo Displays


Panel Discussion — Pulling it all together 

Professor Beverly Derewianka, Adjunct Professor Misty Adoniou, Dr Jon Callow and Dr Helen Harper, chaired by Dr Pauline Jones.

In this open panel discussion, your most frequently asked questions or concerns will be addressed by our experts, to hear and respond to opinions and advice on issues that concern you and your students.


Keynote 5 — Ursula Dubosarsky

Children’s Laureate address


Wrap Up and Thank You — PETAA President Pauline Jones


Aerial Function Centre UTS
Building 10
Level 7/235 Jones St, Ultimo NSW 2007

Aerial Function Centre UTS