Over the summer I have read some very useful texts and scoured Twitter in order to find effective methods for improving Literacy. I wanted to share my thoughts on what I have found in order to bring it together and perhaps help others looking to find similar strategies.
I wanted to start with this section so that the resources can be accessed quickly:
A few of the resources created in collaboration with my colleagues:
- Macbeth resources
- The Ruby In The Smoke (a good KS3 text)
- The Yellow Wallpaper
- Effort Scale (based on Teaching Backwards)
- Literary Terms (found online)
Can I also draw attention to some websites with excellent resources:
- The Bad Pedagogue
- Always Learning Web
- An English Teacher’s Bibliography
- Geoff Barton
- CybraryMan Language Arts
There are other great websites out there, these are just sites I accessed recently (the bibliography contains several links).
This book was recommended to me on Twitter by @evenbetterif. Shakespeare on Toast is an excellent discussion of all the relevant elements of a Shakespeare play & I would thoroughly recommend it, particularly if you are teaching Macbeth.
I found this book to be really helpful in bringing my thoughts together in a coherent way. Barton writes in a concise and reflective way that is engaging and helpful. If you are unsure where to start, I would recommend this book first.
This is an extraordinary piece of pedagogical research. I would recommend this book to all Teachers of English, both new and experienced. My understanding is that Lemov, Driggs & Woolway sought to scientifically examine that practice of excellent classroom practitioners in order to codify the many elements of teaching English. There were several practical ideas that I will discuss later, but the main principle I took from the text is that as a teacher, you need to make the implicit explicit. I think that several experienced Teachers have discussed this principle and I think it has informed much of my thinking this summer.
This book lives up to its title. Tyrer & Taylor have written a practical guide that explains effective strategies and provides a timeline in which to implement them. Although I am not a whole school literacy coordinator, there were ideas that can be implemented within the English Department and perhaps suggested for whole school.
I found that this approach really challenged my thinking. I don’t know if I will implement the entire Talk 4 Writing approach in my classroom, but there are several key ideas discussed by Strong around creating templates or blueprints for texts types that I find fascinating.
I definitely need to return to some (if not all) of these texts as there is so much to take from them. However, there are a few practical strategies that I wish to put forward:
- Quality First Teaching – Make sure that every teacher feels able to deliver the best lessons possible in a culture of both high expectations and support (what we want for the pupils too!)
- Making the implicit explicit:
- speak your thoughts aloud; speak clearly and with a sophisticated vocabulary; read clearly and with expression; write with the students; revise ‘live’; ask the questions you really want to ask; don’t be satisfied with simple answers; make feedback timely and useful.
- Make sure that pupils are acting on marking in some way (DIRT)
- I would strongly encourage all teachers to request a Visualiser; you can show a good piece of work to the class, mark a piece of work with the class, annotate a text with the class and show different drafts of the same piece of work throughout a lesson. There are other uses for a Visualiser, however the four strategies I have mentioned are the ones I use most often.
- Talk for Writing approach – I am particularly interested in boxed up exemplars, blown up to A3, annotated in pairs for the following:
- Useful phrases (raid the reading)
- Technical terms
- Maybe you could say ‘CUT it up’
Pupils then use these exemplars to create their own ‘blueprint’ for a text. The teacher and the pupil can then create a new text together based on the ‘blueprint’, then finally the pupil creates their own text independently.
- One final useful phrase could be DOT: Dictionary or Thesaurus. A teacher could call out ‘DOT’ when an unusual (tier 2?) word comes up in a text and pupils would react by looking at the dictionary or thesaurus on their desk for the meaning.
- There are dozens of strategies in Reading Reconsidered, this chart is a good place to start, created by @TeacherTrying on Twitter.
- Front the writing – instead of discussing questions, ask pupils to Stop, Jot & Learn first, then discuss, in order to check for understanding and pupils build independence. This is a rough idea of a lesson sequence.
- When using worksheets, use text boxes, DARTS & gloss words to allow pupils to engage
- Develop further links with Feeder Primary Schools and try and have an exemplar piece of work travel with the pupil from Year Six to Year Seven.
- Literacy ambassadors: reward pupils that are good writers and ask them to seek out good writing from other pupils; teacher and literacy ambassadors run assemblies about good writing; ambassadors mentor weaker pupils on their writing
As I said earlier, there are many more strategies and ideas in the books I have mentioned, these are just some key strategies that I think I can use and will benefit the pupils in my school. I hope that this has been a helpful post.