Was it a group of ‘shady characters’ or ‘inky fools’ that met last Friday to discuss approaches to literacy? If we’re teaching literacy by stealth as recommended by @rspear_1 then we might fall into the category of ‘shady characters’! But, although Mark Forsyth’s ‘The Etymologicon’ and ‘The Horologicon’ were on the menu, I’m pretty sure that our hands were clean and not ink stained as we sat down to lunch. Not ‘inky fools’ then after all! If you’re uncertain as to the references here then you might like to look at the following:
These texts informed some lively discussion during the session and they are excellent reads for everyone. Try asking @SimaDavarian about one of her favourite words.
As a group of teachers we were certainly delighted with the opportunity to talk about language and this is how we want our students to feel too. We want our students to be excited about what they see, hear, say and write. One of the key areas that we explored in the session was vocabulary building and some ideas as to how to build vocabulary are included below.
· Using nine letter word grids or word wheels
Introduce topics with nine letter word grids by inviting students to try and find the nine letter word in addition to making as many other three letter words or more that they can find. Use a scoring system that rewards longer words that are spelt accurately.
You might also ask students to write a definition of the word.
Use two nine letter word grids and invite students to find the connection or the link between the words.
(suspicious) + (detective)
· Topic specific vocabulary and key words
Make key words visually interesting by using http://www.wordfoto.com
Challenge students to change simple language into more sophisticated language. Try asking students to up-skill lesson aims and objectives or songs!
In pairs see if you can upgrade the language of the following:
Show me the way to go home
I’m tired and I wanna go to bed
I took a little drink about an hour ago
And it’s gone right to my head
Where ever I may roam
On land or sea or foam
You will always hear me singing this song
Show me the way to go home
· PAF (Purpose, Audience and Form)
Provide a different audience for writing tasks. How would students write if they were writing for the prime minister/president, a company director, a newspaper editor etc.?
How about linking up-skilling with writing for different audiences?
In order to develop thinking skills and to promote oracy invite students to identify the odd one out from lists such as the ones below.
· Odd one out
What’s the odd one out between…
- a car, a baby and a fridge?
- a cello, a saxophone and a trumpet?
- Einstein, Pasteur and Stephen Hawkins?
- subtraction, division and addition?
- Russia, Canada and UK?
- Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Fleance?
- mass, weight and density?
- hydrochloric, sulphuric and acetic acid?
Thanks go to @PhilBeadle for sharing the ideas on up-skilling, Purpose Audience Form and Odd One Out at an outstanding literacy teaching course that I attended some time ago.
How well do these strategies work? Well, the proof is in the pudding, so go ahead and try them out!
Clare McConnell @DHSBEnglish
Head of English