I am currently in the process of putting together a literacy handbook which contains a variety of literacy strategies that you can use in your day-to-day teaching to promote the necessary literacy skills, including reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Whenever members of staff hear the term literacy, they automatically seem to stereotype this with SPaG; however, this is not the case. Yes, spelling, punctuation and grammar is VERY important for literacy, but it also involves more generic and easily applicable skills such as those listed above. It is on this assumption that I have created (started to create) a new literacy handbook for you all to show you that there are many ways you can embed literacy into your subject areas without having to have a specific SPaG focus each lesson. I imagine that most of you are using some of these strategies without even realising that they promote literacy beautifully in lessons.
Here is a sample from the booklet.
Ten strategies for use with key words:
- Subject specific dictionaries: pupils can more quickly locate words within these than in a large, general dictionary and they give a technical dictionary. Discuss and clarify meanings and get pupils to define the word in their own words.
- Creating word banks: After brainstorming/concept-mapping, key words from this activity are identified and written on strips of card by pupils. These are sorted alphabetically around the room. New key words are added each lesson. Constantly revisiting the lists in this way reminds pupils of their extent and purpose. Students can also create their own word lists in the back of their books.
- Word and definition cards: students match key words with definitions related to the unit.
- Creating interactive glossaries: An empty glossary is given to students with key words in alphabetical order which they glue into their books. Another A4 sheet with the key word definitions is provided, however the definitions are jumbled up. As students discover a new key word, they find the definition and write it in. This must be continuously revisited and revised.
- Key word crosswords/word-searches: exactly what it says on the tin. These can be created online and then kept as a permanent resource for the department. Alternatively, students can be given a completed crossword and are asked to write the clues.
- Creating word clusters: draw pupils’ attention to patterns to be found in words (e.g. equal, equalise, equate, equilateral, equality, equation, equidistant, equilibrium and so on), pointing out their root (equa/equi, from the Latin word meaning to make even) and how that helps both spelling and meaning. Pupils can create word cluster posters and display them in subject rooms.
- Creating mnemonics: mnemonics are sentences which help students remember something e.g. ‘Richard of York gave battle in vain’ (r, o, y, g, b, i, v – the colours of the rainbow). Students could be given a key word to do for homework and the more amusing the better!
- Creating calligram posters: calligrams are visual representations of a word that refect its meaning.
- Using icons: icons and symbols alongside key words can act as memory prompts and are particularly useful for pupils struggling with literacy.
- Playing word games:
- Put key words on the board spread around. The teacher reads out the definition and two students compete to choose and touch the correct key word.
- Half a word can be put on the board and students have to complete it.
- You provide the definitions and students write the words.
I hope you have found this useful. Please let me know if you have any best practice that you would like to share with everyone in school and I shall be sure to include these ideas in the booklet.
Watch your pigeon holes for the completed booklet!