It is too easy to see literacy as a domain of words, a discreet procession of phonology¹, orthography² and semantics³ and while each of these is important, they are but tools for a greater purpose. To use a cliché sometimes we miss the wood for the trees. The UNESCO definition of someone who is ‘literate’ is, to paraphrase, one who is able to participate fully in their community and wider society. We forget this at our peril in schools. Students should not just ‘do’ a subject since subjects are at best artificial administrative divisions within a wider educational process. If so then an educated student, when they go into the wider world, if they are truly literate, can go beyond language, numbers and images to a deep understanding of the underlying cultural morés of society and in the present climate this is the greatest challenge facing all of us.
Graham Macleod @mcdhsb
Phonology¹ is the study of the sound system of languages
An Orthography² is a set of conventions for how to write a language. It includes rules of spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, and punctuation.
Semantics³ the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning.
Unsure what to expect, I turned up for the first session of said club with a nervous knot in my stomach. I also brought along a rigorous lesson plan masquerading as a ‘I-definitely-didn’t-spend-three-hours-planning-this’ activity, and a packet of Oreos clutched tightly in my hand as a hopeful peace offering (they were even the ‘double stuffed’ variety – I was pulling out all the stops).
What I did discover, however, was a genuinely lovely group of pupils – a mix of eager Year 7s and Year 10 CW club veterans – who were more than happy to share their experience of how the club was run with me, helping me on what has turned out to be a significant learning curve.
So far this year, we’ve brought in random objects such as Rubiks cubes and human teeth (!) and used these to inspire original poems and short stories. We’ve rewritten classic fairy tales to include a modern twist, like Rapunzel accidentally singeing off her luscious locks with faulty straighteners. One pupil seemingly enjoyed the biscuity bribes so much, he wrote a piece called ‘Ode to an Oreo’…only at DHSB!
We’ve also attempted to go through every session without getting sidetracked by discussing Doctor Who (and how Peter Capaldi strangely resembles a recently departed headteacher…), and I’ve accidentally introduced a new obsession called Mafia. This might be my biggest triumph (and regret) of this academic year so far. It’s essentially a storytelling version of Murder in the Dark, in which the role of ‘The Mafia’ is anonymously bestowed on one of the pupils in the group, and allows them to ruthlessly kick their peers out of the game round by round, often sparking an extremely heated debate about who is committing these nefarious crimes.
Joking aside, it’s become a part of my week which allows me to go into a session without hyperventilating if I haven’t planned every minute detail. It’s a genuine highlight of my Mondays and a true win-win scenario, as it’s enabled me to both enjoy the students’ company and find out what I am capable of outside of the classroom. Meanwhile, I’m going to pretend the rise in members each week isn’t solely down to Mafia’s frighteningly addictive appeal.
So overall, two important lessons learned. Number one: take extra-curricular opportunities if they are thrown at you – after all, you can always arm yourself with Oreos and you will most likely end up enjoying yourself more than you ever expected. And number two: play Mafia at your own risk.
– Olivia Middleton
Source: Day 12:The Power of words to inspire
Source: Day 12:The Power of words to inspire
Etymology of language:
I have always had a love of language and especially linguistics (inspired in no small part by a wonderful lecturer at Southampton university). I am fascinated by the way language constantly changes and evolves, and in my lessons my aim is to evoke that same fascination in my own students. Some of them are already looking forward with great anticipation to the day when all French verbs are regular “er” verbs and they no longer have to deal with the complexities of faire or peindre. The signs are already there with skier, tchater and even googler!
This year I have had the opportunity to teach literacy to two year 8 classes and having listened to a radio 4 broadcast on neologisms I challenged them to make up their own words to describe an object or action that did not, as yet, have its own dictionary entry. We looked at some of those suggested by radio listeners such as floordrobe (a teenagers wardrobe) and slowvertaking (the action of 1 lorry trying to overtake another) and then it was over to them.
They were, as I expected, incredibly creative. Two of my favourites were “intelliflop” (verb) – when an intelligent person does something stupid (like asking how much something costs in a pound shop) and “engamed” (verb) – when you are so engulfed in your game that you don’t notice what is happening around you.
The power of language to inspire – long may it continue.
Michelle Heighway @HeighwayM
What is the highest scoring key word that you can create? #literacyfocus. An engaging and competitive way to get students focusing on key words. I have used as a starter task with a number of classes and they have really enjoyed it. It has also encouraged them to learn the key terms and hopefully use more of them in their work. Give it a go!
I came across this idea on Twitter from @MissASearle . It is available to download from the TES website https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/scrabble-starter-11174771
Nicola Randles @RandlesNicola
Trend – what is the trend is it ….increasing/decreasing/fluctuating
Evidence – Use data from the image
Anomalies – Are there any areas on the graph which stand out?
Another gem of an idea from Fiona Osmaston!