Activating students’ reading and writing capabilities through imaginative teaching day


Interstate delegates wishing to register for the event via live-streaming can do so here.

In-person registrations close at midday on Thursday, March 7.

Online registrations close at midday on Thursday, March 14.

I don’t choose to spend time reading because I’m not good at it.  My mind wanders.  I can’t focus on the storyline. I pick up what’s going on by listening in class discussions.  I can’t take it in.  I get bored very quickly. I don’t find it engaging enough.

We don’t talk about how you read. We talk about what we’re reading. The questions aren’t very deep. We don’t often talk about our personal opinions. We focus on the characters and how they behave.

You just regurgitate the same thing. The same talking points. You get the gist and then predict what needs to be said.

These comments were made by secondary English students who contributed to a recent seven-year VATE professional learning and research project conducted in 44 Victorian secondary schools.  The project found that for too many young people, the reading experience at school involves a murky mix of mind wandering, fake reading, strategic regurgitation, and polite compliance.  These perspectives pose key challenges for English teachers who aim to engage students meaningfully in reading and writing processes.

This professional learning day draws upon the text Activating Reading Capabilities in English which is the culmination of the VATE project. It will highlight a framework of reading capabilities developed and trialled with teachers, that captures what engaged readers do in their minds when they are actively involved in the process of making meaning. The workshops will involve an examination of those capabilities and will highlight a range of learning activities teachers can use to activate the capabilities at all year levels.  Central to the activities is the notion that when students activate their personal voices in genuine, inventive ways, they are better able to develop and justify ideas related to texts.  The activities involve the teacher as an imaginative participant who builds the capacity to teach reading through embedded inquiry.

We will also have a focus on the way the reading capabilities can inform enhanced written responses to texts.  Teachers will examine writing samples that demonstrate a fluency that arises from having something worthwhile to say about text. Sample paragraphs, that offer alternatives to TEEL inspired writing, will also be examined.

NB: This professional learning day will be offered face-to-face and online. It will be interactive, will offer a range of practical solutions, and will explore some of the challenges faced by teachers in contemporary English classrooms.


9.00 – 9.45: Sharing experiences of reading

9.45 – 10.30: The VATE Reading Project: Attending to student and teacher concerns

10.30 – 10.50: Morning Tea

10.50 – 12.30: The Reading Capabilities Framework

12.30 – 1.15: Lunch and Gallery Walk

1.15 – 2.15: Activities that activate reading capabilities

2.15 – 3.15: Writing extended responses to text and fusing the capabilities

3.15 – 3.30: The imaginative role of the teacher


Mary Mason
Associate Professor Amanda McGraw, Federation University

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations must be emailed to Cancellations received by 12pm five working days prior to the event date will be charged a 15% cancellation fee. Cancellations received after this will receive NO REFUND. Registrations can, however, be transferred to another staff member. Please email the details. If you do not attend and have not notified VATE according to the above policy, you will receive no refund.  Please note: If this event is cancelled due to COVID government or venue restrictions, you will receive a full refund.

Catering and special diets (in-person events only)

Coeliac, vegan and other special diets (medical related) can be requested. Please email your special diet request to at least seven working days prior to the event. Please note: Approximately 50% of the catering will be vegetarian. You do not need to request this.

Meet the Speakers