Category Archives: Literacy

THW TeachMeet – CPD


teachmeet logo

Our first TeachMeet CPD was dedicated to literacy. Many thanks to all staff who shared an idea.

Jess – spellings with tutor groups : students who struggle with learning spellings could learn 5 instead of 10 / challenge pupils to pick 2 words out of the list and use them in a sentence. Jess also shared how she has used a spreadsheet to record her tutees’ scores and how this has helped her to create some competition within her form group. Template Spelling Results with class average and pupil weekly average

Becky – literacy starters : which one is the odd one out? (have multiple answers to promote discussion) / boggle / sort words into categories Quick literacy starters

Chris – 4 corners : 4 words on the board, one in each corner. Students make a sentence with it. For example in maths,

4 Corners

printed prompts for 2 stars and a wish to ensure pupils give better feedback to their peers & literacy mats to reinforce subject specific vocabulary Music Key Words Final

Deb – 7 Monkeys example


  • Pupils come up with their own definitions of key words
  • Compare with another pupils
  • Come up with a definitive definition
  • Be able to justify why their definition is the best one within a group

“think outside the box”:

  • Read back through work/passage/information
  • Link to an analogy/real life context/draw a picture or sequence of pictures to represent
  • Explain their drawings to partner/class/group depending on activity.

Ana – scaffolding writing: 1 / mind map key vocabulary (for example in French opinions / connectives / quantifiers) 2/ give pupils more vocab to add to their mind map 3/ always use the mind map as a tool box to improve quality of writing & speaking. 4/ write in a triangle as a way as building up a quality answer. 5/ when pupils have used words from their mind map enough times, they can highlight them on their mind map in order to show that they are confident with them. 6/ they can then focus on new vocabulary.


Merun – literacy games COUNTDOWN  UNO card game present tense irregular verbs

Use (under the “whizzy things” tab) and for more literacy games and templates.

– definitions to match up with words as a way of expanding pupils’ range of vocabulary Hay que estudiar sobre los tiempos pasados y sobre las guerras y las personas famosas de antes subject names

Rute – using a template to encourage KS5 students to take better notes during lessons

Claire – “fun fan” to practise accuracy in spellings Fun Fan hola vocab cabin crew dialogue

– using a checklist to ensure students produce complex and sophisticated pieces of writing checklist write an answer likes and dislikes

– using animations on Word to focus pupils’ attention to particular aspects of literacy Blinking background and Las Vegas lights

– literacy plasters to save time correcting some of the most common mistakes! French literacy plastersFrench literacy plasters (2) French literacy plasters (3)  literacy plasters 1 literacy plasters 2

Thanks for a great session. Please let us know if you have tried any of the ideas shared after the TeachMeet.



Differentiation Resources


Wikipedia has a sister site called I discovered it only recently and it’s a very useful differentiation tool for those students who insist on using Wikipedia as their first port of call when researching homework etc on the net but may struggle with the content. It still remains to be said that students should be reminded to always compare resources and to evaluate the content.

I have shown an example (side by side) but please feel free to click on the link and trial it with a subject matter that students would find the benefits.

differentiation resource2

More differentiation resources:   I think this could be used with students who have difficulty in this area of understanding and deciphering text.

rewordify  A visual dictionary

snappy words

Natalie (Library)


Independent Reading


There’s a sense that A Levels and GCSE in the future will require more sustained reading of texts in exams. With the world of ICT often leading to F pattern reading and shallow skimming:

Screen reading is the act of reading a text on a computer screen, smartphone, e-book reader, etc. It is often contrasted with the act of reading a text on paper, in particular a printed text.[1]
In a study conducted by Jakob Nielsen, a leading web usability expert who co-founded usability consulting company Nielsen Norman Group with Donald Norman, it was discovered that generally people read 25% slower on a computer screen in comparison with a printed page.[1] In eyetracking tests, Nielsen also discovered that people read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern that consists of two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.[2] A similar study, using search results from the Google search engine, determined that readers primarily looked at a triangular area of the top and left side of the screen. This corresponds to the Nielsen F-shaped pattern, and was dubbed the Google Golden Triangle.[3]
Critics have voiced concerns about screen reading, though some have taken a more positive stance. Kevin Kelly believes that we are transitioning from “book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality”.[4][5] Anne Mangen holds that because of the materiality of a printed book the reader is more engaged with a text, while the opposite is true with a digital text in which the reader is engaged in a “shallower, less focused way”.[6][7]

F Pattern Diagram

This may be the future of reading but exams will still test literacy not ‘visuality’.

OFSTED ( English: The Way Forward) say that they rarely see lengthy reading or writing in English lessons during inspections (never mind other subjects). This is probably down to assuming that five part whizzily fast lessons are what is needed.

So a few thoughts about independent reading

1. If you complain about sixth formers’ independent reading, do you develop it at KS3 and 4?
2. It is OK for students to read for 20 minutes or more sometimes!
3. Time yourself reading a text. Add 10-15% for students. How much time should you allow for them to read the whole text?
4. Don’t talk while they are reading.
5. You can check learning and show progress by asking them to annotate as they read then pull key ideas together from the whole class.
6. Writing questions as they write is good learning.
7. Reading to them is fine depending on the context but watch out for the students who only listen and push the text away on the desk. They are not reading.
8. Do students ever ‘read around’ your subject. Libraries are full of unread journals in your subject.
9. I used Wikipedia above because it’s a useful tool BUT I’ve read the articles too. Try giving students a ludicrously wrong web text. See if they can detect the problems. Discuss.
10. Simply set some longer reading as a homework with a little dialogue slip at the end. Students hand in slip with what they have learned from reading the book or article.

Finally, some of this takes longer but will result in deeper learning and better readers more able to cope with longer texts in exams.

Terence Fitch

High Leverage Literacy Tools – CPD


Many thanks to Matt for an excellent CPD session yesterday afternoon.

Here are my top 5 ideas from yesterday’s CPD to include literacy in your lessons and enhance students’ learning:

1. Use classrooms to display key words for your subject. You could create an adjective wall which would help to increase students’ vocabulary and encourage them to use subject-specific terms.

For example in science your adjective wall might contain “reactive, experimental, chemical, molecular, quantitative etc”, in English it could list adjectives to describe characters of a novel or a play.

2. Thesaurus Challenge: students write a paragraph about something they have learnt recently using specific words or phrases in order to improve the quality of their writing

For example in history, students must answer the question “what were the causes of WW1?” and use…

–          gave rise to

–          animosity

–          strained

–          spark

–          enveloped

3. Have I got news for you?


Fun activity to recall prior knowledge and to think about word functions.

answers: Texas, white, sharps

4. Building on root words: how many words can you make adding the following prefixes and suffixes to the root words?

root words

Extension – can you create your own?

Alternative – Give a definition for students to work out.

a)      The fact that Hitler wasn’t a nice man.

b)      Most of the people who apply to go on the X Factor.

c)       The truth wasn’t put across correctly in the case.

d)      Some people like to dress up at the weekend and pretend they’re at the Battle of Bosworth.

answers: understatement, misguided, distorted, re-enactment.

5. Four Corners: as it says! 4 words on the board, one in each corner. Students make a sentence with it.

For example in maths,

4 Corners

See how you could adapt these in your own subject area. They don’t take a long time to plan but definitely have high impact in the classroom.

Thanks Matt for the wealth of ideas.

High Leverage Literacy Tools KS5_Literacy

Literacy Wall in PE


Literacy wall PE Literacy wall PE 2

Literacy wall with key words. Nice idea to remind students of success criteria or support them with their learning. This will make the learning memorable and fun and lead to more ‘stickiness’ in terms of long term recall.

Can you adapt this in your classroom or department area?