The Three Rs: Resources, Reading & Reflection

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:

Pupil Premium 

A few of the resources created in collaboration with my colleagues:

Can I also draw attention to some websites with excellent resources:

Memorising quotations: 

There are other great websites out there, these are just sites I accessed recently (the bibliography contains several links).


Shakespeare on Toast

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.

Don’t Call it Literacy!

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.

Reading Reconsidered

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.

The Literacy Leader’s Toolkit

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.

Talk 4 Writing in Secondary Schools

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 approachI am particularly interested in boxed up exemplars, blown up to A3, annotated in pairs for the following:
  • Connectives
  • 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.





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