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Introduction to explicitly teaching and assessing the capabilities

This document contains useful background that supports understanding of the VCAA teaching resources for each capability. It can also assist with whole-school curriculum planning.

Introduction to Explicitly Teaching the Capabilities

Introduction to Explicitly Teaching the Capabilities

The document introduces a range of key considerations when determining what is required to explicitly teach the capabilities, and it consists of three sections:

  • Building deep familiarity with the capabilities curriculums
  • Explicitly introducing capabilities content and consolidating learning
  • Identifying progress in student learning (assessment).

What is Intercultural Capability and how is it best taught?

The Intercultural Capability curriculum enables students to explore their own and others' cultural practices and cultural diversity in Australian society. The curriculum helps students to develop vital skills for living and working in a multicultural world. Through explicit teaching of the Intercultural Capability, students learn to recognise commonalities and differences, create connections with others, examine the challenges and benefits of cultural diversity and cultivate mutual respect and social cohesion.

The curriculum aims to provide rich learning experiences supporting students to apply their learning about cultural diversity and cultural practices to questions of and for the globalised world. Students are required to examine, reflect on and challenge assumptions, stereotypes and prejudices and to explore how intercultural experiences may influence and change attitudes and beliefs.

In the words of one teacher, 'Intercultural Capability is really about challenging thinking. It goes far beyond facts about people and cultures to an appreciation of other people's perspectives and a respect for this.'

During 2018, the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, in partnership with the International Education Division at the Department of Education and Training, worked with teachers from twelve Government, Catholic and Independent schools to develop units of work on Intercultural Capability from Foundation to Level 10. The teachers created units with accompanying formative assessment rubrics and annotated work samples to demonstrate progression in student learning. This project built upon a 2017 action-research project undertaken with nineteen schools from the Government, Catholic and Independent sectors. The units of work developed in both phases of the project are available below.

What are the key approaches and concepts?

Unpacking the content descriptions, Levels 5–10

This resource provides guidance on how the Intercultural Capability curriculum content can be unpacked for students. It contains sample key ideas and concepts plus suggestions for learning activities aligned to each content description and achievement standard.

Intercultural Capability – Unpacking the content descriptions, Levels 5–10 (docx - 109.45kb)

PowerPoint presentation

This PowerPoint presentation is designed to help schools insert explicit teaching about Intercultural Capability in their learning programs. It summarises some key challenges identified by schools that participated in the Intercultural Capability Project (phase 1) and provides advice and information based on their experiences. Schools may use this presentation to prompt discussion, to further their planning, and to consider their approach to this area of the Victorian Curriculum F–10.

This resource can assist schools to:

  • Become deeply familiar with Intercultural Capability
  • Choose a teaching approach
  • Understand the distinction between Intercultural Capability and cultural knowledge
  • Become familiar with the cultural iceberg concept
  • Distinguish between cultural stereotypes and generalisations
  • Address possible perceptions of cultural uniformity at the school
  • Discuss assessment approaches.

Links between Intercultural Capability and related learning areas

Teachers may wish to teach Intercultural Capability in connection with another learning area in the Victorian Curriculum F–10. The Excel spreadsheet below shows the links between Intercultural Capability and related learning areas.

Links between Intercultural Capability and related learning areas

What is the relationship between the Languages curriculum and the Intercultural Capability?

The Languages curriculum explores the interrelationship between language, communication and culture. It provides an opportunity for students to participate in and reflect on intercultural exchange and how this shapes both communication and identity.

An understanding of the interactions between cultures is central to the learning of languages.   Through studying and using a new language students increase their insights into, and understanding of, cultural and linguistic differences in all the cultures they encounter.

Language study allows students to notice, compare and reflect on things previously taken for granted and to explore their own linguistic, social and cultural practices as well as those associated with the target language.

In learning a language students develop an understanding of "the variable ways in which language and culture exist in the world."  (Reference: Report on Intercultural language learning by Liddicoat, Anthony & Papademetre, L. & Scarino, Angela & Kohler, Michelle. (2003). Report on intercultural language learning. Report to the Australian Government Department for Education Science and Training (DEST).)

What do teachers say about Intercultural Capability?

How do teachers and schools navigate intercultural issues?

Teacher guide: navigating intercultural issues in the classroom

Teacher guide: navigating intercultural issues in the classroom

This guide gives teachers valuable knowledge and strategies for teaching about culture in the context of the Intercultural Capability classroom. It includes:

  • Key terms and concepts
  • Background knowledge, including the concepts of implicit bias and cultural hybridity
  • Preparation, including engaging with the school community and setting ground rules in the classroom
  • Teaching strategies, including to support proactive discussions, creating an anti-bias environment and strengthening relationships
  • Classroom activities for Foundation to Level 10.   

Poster Primary: How do we talk about culture?

Poster Secondary 2 Palettes: How do we talk about culture?

These A3-sized posters summarise the guidelines for class discussions in Intercultural Capability. They are designed to be displayed in the classroom as an ongoing visual reminder of the guidelines, which focus on careful communication, understanding other points of view, examining one's biases and engaging respectfully with a wide range of people.

How can we facilitate cultural inclusion?

Cultural inclusion transcript

This short video contains advice from Cultural Consultant Dr Georgia Birch on how to make school environments inclusive of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) students. Dr Birch discusses:

  • Guidance and role models
  • School culture
  • Student retention
  • Using the Intercultural Capability curriculum to embrace difference.

The video and/or transcript could be used as a discussion starter for teachers and school leaders. Suggested guiding questions:

  • Why do schools need to provide support for CALD students?
  • What might this support look like? What programs have been successful to date?
  • How can schools create an inclusive culture? (for students, families and staff)
  • How can Intercultural Capability connect with and build on other intercultural programs in the school?

More ideas on creating inclusive schools can be found in the Teacher Guide above.

What intercultural experiences do students have at school?

Intercultural experiences transcript

Intercultural experiences: discussion prompts for students

In this short video, Mohamed, from a Sudanese background and Abdi, from a Somali background, recall their experiences at school and discuss how they reconcile different cultural identities.

Mohamed recalls:

Every year in primary school, our teacher would sort our classroom into levels of reading ability. One thing I always took pride in was my reading. But for some reason, I always ended up at the lowest level. I said, 'Last year when I was in a different class I was in the higher level.' I just had to keep proving myself and showing people that I'm not like the stereotype you have in your mind.

The transcript of the video and the discussion prompts can be used as a resource for school leaders, teachers and students. (Note: The transcript includes extra interviews with Mohamed and Abdi.)

Units of work

Sample units of work provided for Primary schools focus on cultural diversity and cultural practices within the school and community. Students explore where their families come from and the nature and significance of cultural practices. They identify cultural diversity and consider connections between culture and people's relationships and behaviour in a culturally diverse community.

Foundation–2

My community and me

This unit uses Mem Fox's Whoever You Are as an entry point into cultures in Australia. Students identify their cultural origins and explore language, food and traditions. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric
  • annotated student work samples.
My community and me

Exploring culture in our school community

This unit examines what culture means to students and their families. Students discuss respectful communication, compare cultures and consider how culture can unite people. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric
  • annotated student work samples
Exploring culture in our school community

Embracing who we are

This unit uses storybooks and items brought from home as prompts to compare cultures. Students share cultural food and consider values underlying cultural practices. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric
  • annotated student work samples
Embracing who we are    

Connections between cultures

This unit looks at countries of origin in the class and the nature and meaning of cultural celebrations. Students see how diverse people live and discuss benefits of sharing culture. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric

Connections between cultures

 

One land, many families

In this unit, students explore familiar cultural practices, such as celebrations, in family life and at school. The unit offers advice on constructing a family tree and includes:

  • annotated student work samples

One land, many families

My story, your story, our story

This unit explores cultural diversity in the class. Students identify where their families come from and explore a range of resources. The unit includes:

  • assessment rubric
  • annotated student work samples.

My story, your story, our story

Levels 1–2

Music from around the world

This short activity is designed to expose students to a range of music styles from around the world and to foster student curiosity about other cultures, particularly through music traditions.

Music from around the world

Levels 3–4

Exploring cultural practices

This unit uses Anh Do's The Little Refugee and other resources to prompt students to consider a range of intercultural experiences. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric
  • annotated student work samples.

Exploring cultural practices

Cultural practices and their significance

In this unit, students compare cultural practices and explain their significance. They view storybooks to find similarities and differences between cultures. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric
  • annotated student work samples.
Cultural practices and their significance

Cultural practices and relationships

In this unit, students examine the values underlying cultural celebrations and the ways in which cultural practices affect relationships. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric
  • annotated student work samples
Cultural practices and relationships

 

Exploring culture in our school community

This unit examines what culture means to students and their families. Students discuss respectful communication, compare cultures and consider how culture can unite people. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric
  • annotated student work samples

Exploring culture in our school community

Levels 3–6

How intercultural experiences can influence our beliefs and behaviours

In this unit, students reflect on intercultural experiences and use texts as a stimulus to think critically about stereotypes and their effects. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric
  • annotated student work samples.

How intercultural experiences influence beliefs and behaviours

Level 5

Diversity and difference

This unit draws from both Levels 3 and 4 and Levels 5 and 6. This unit includes lessons from 'Difference Differently', an interconnection activity and an exploration of stereotypes and generalisations.

Diversity and difference

Levels 5–6

Cultural diversity

This short activity asks students to identify contemporary events where the value of cultural diversity is celebrated.

Cultural diversity

Sample units of work provided for Secondary schools further explore cultural diversity and practices, stereotypes and generalisations. Teachers are encouraged to use current issues and media representations to examine local and global intercultural issues. Students are challenged to bring greater sophistication to their learning in Intercultural Capability.

Levels 7–8

The dynamic nature of culture

This unit examines 'visible' and 'hidden' culture and how culture changes in different contexts. Students play a communication game and discuss stereotypes and 'multiple stories'. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric
  • annotated work samples.

Dynamic nature of culture

Water and the world

This short activity asks students to identify contemporary events where the value of cultural diversity is celebrated.

Water and the world

Indonesian language learning

This 18 lesson unit is designed to be delivered in two parts. It may be delivered within the context of Indonesian language learning.

Part 1: Travelling across borders and cultures, focuses on learning about Indonesia and an extended task to create a 14-day travel itinerary for a client. There is less focus on learning in Intercultural Capability and more focus on geographic and cultural knowledge. This provides a deeper basis for learning in part 2.

Part 2: Becoming an intercultural traveller, focuses on comparing cultural norms in Australia and Indonesia through an extended task to create a travel information brochure for a client. This unit provides students with the opportunity to use their cultural knowledge and to respond or act on their understanding as an 'intercultural traveller'.

Intercultural Traveller unit

Intercultural Traveller powerpoint

Level 8

Exploring cultures through printmaking

This integrated Visual Arts and Intercultural Capability term plan looks at print practices such as Japanese woodblocks, early European printmaking and Australian printmaking. Students reflect on the cultural impact of printmaking.

Exploring cultures through printmaking

Level 9

The Island process drama

This unit teaches about empathy, inclusion and exclusion through a process drama based on the storybook The Island. Students are asked to draw connections with current events. The unit includes:

  • video of teacher reflections.

The Island process drama

Intercultural Capability Teacher reflections transcript

Levels 9–10

How personal experiences shape intercultural beliefs and decisions

In this unit, students examine To Kill a Mockingbird and Twelve Angry Men to make links between preconceptions and intercultural experiences. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric
  • annotated work samples.
Personal experiences and intercultural beliefs

Migration experiences and social cohesion in Australia

In this unit, students explore social cohesion and cultural diversity and consider how migration experiences have affected Australia. The unit includes:

  • formative assessment rubric
  • annotated work samples, including videos.

Migration and social cohesion in Australia

Work samples 1&2 migration transcript

Academic vocabulary

Academic vocabulary can be broadly defined as the specific language requirements students need to know and understand in order to learn. This includes the specific language content for each learning area and capability that students need to master in order to be successful learners within that field of study.

For information on academic vocabulary visit Department of Education and Training - Vocabulary andVCAA Academic Vocabulary.

External resources

The following external links are for teacher reference purposes. They do not constitute VCAA endorsement of the views or materials contained on these sites.

United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2013, Intercultural Competencies - Conceptual and Operational Framework

National Centre for Australian Children's Literature Cultural Diversity Database, Welcome to the NCACL Cultural Diversity Database 

Centre for Multicultural Youth, which provides resources to Victorian secondary schools to use to address racism and strengthen inclusion in their school environment 

School’s In for Refugees, which includes a series of resources developed by Foundation House and the Department of Education and Training for primary and secondary schools to support a whole-school approach to improving student engagement, wellbeing and achievement