Literacy Tips- Term 1


Is it possible to ask better questions?  Try to plan in advance the questions you will ask. Allow appropriate thinking time and do not be unsettled by silence.  Open-ended questions in addition to those beginning ‘Why…?’ and ‘How…?’ include ‘Is/was it inevitable that…?’ / What would happen if…?’ / ‘Could you describe the way…?’



Affect/effect is confusing for students. When this occurs in your lesson, remind students that “effect” is a thing (noun). If the word “the” could go before the word, then it is ‘e’ for effect: the way to remember is ‘all the Es’ (the+effect). “Affect” is a verb, meaning to influence. If the word “to” could go before, (to affect), then the word is “affect” with an ‘a’. If we remind students of ‘thE+Effect’ across the curriculum, it will eventually stick.



In class, use your mistakes! Being open about written or spoken errors helps students to feel ‘safe’ about mistakes of their own. If you accidentally overcomplicate something, tell students you fear you explained something badly – could they improve your explanation? If you misspell something, don’t immediately erase it – could students find your mistake? In this way, students learn (i) to improve their own expression, (ii) to communicate openly, and (iii) that it is normal to make errors.



Tutors, (esp. @KS3), use LRD to announce the start of one silent reading session per week in morning registration (if you haven’t already established this). Silent reading during morning tutor will give you a break and will engage students with reading. Explain to parents that is to be a New Year’s initiative / resolution, and if students are given books as presents, these can be brought in. Bringing a fiction book to silent reading in tutor time can be made into a target, if needs be.



Develop awareness of the parts of speech. Referring to the L.O, select the keyword and ask students to supply, from the word that has been given, the corresponding adjective / verb / adverb / noun. For example, “To investigate rhythm” – rhythmic (adj) / rhythmically (adv). Another example: “L.O. To be able to manipulate variables” manipulation (n) / manipulative (adj). A further example, “L.O. To explore judgement… to judge (vb) / a judge ( n) / judgemental (adj) .This works whenever there is an L.O. (it doesn’t have to be written).



During a discussion or question–answer stage of a lesson, avoid doing the Speaking and Listening work that students should be doing themselves. Encourage students to do the work of carefully listening and responding, with prompts such as “John, what was most perceptive about Jack’s remark?” / “Becky, could you use the word ‘furthermore’ to develop what Bethan said?” / “Joe, can you summarise in one sentence what Josh just said?” / “Jake, can you think of a counterargument to undermine what John just said?” and so on.



Teach prefixes! Students can then decode meaning across their curriculum. Knowledge of only a few

prefixes unlocks a lot of vocabulary, e.g. ‘a–’ (without / none); ‘ante–’ (before); ‘co–’ (together); ‘demi–’ (half);‘extra–’(beyond); ‘hyper–’ (too much); ‘hypo–’ (too little); ‘infra–’ (beneath); ‘inter–’ (between); ‘iso–’ (equal); ‘kilo–’ (thousand) ‘mal–’ (bad); ‘omni–’ (all); ‘retro–’ (backwards); ‘super–’ (above); ‘trans–’ (across) ‘ultra–’ (extreme); and so on. (See literacy folder for a comprehensive list.)



Encourage students to read fiction for pleasure, especially during holidays. Reading fiction has more bearing on a child studying at university than whether their own parents were university educated, and more influence than a fast internet connection at home. Direct students to the library where the librarian will be happy to help.



Consider using a word-based starter in a lesson next week. You could try a ‘minimal pairs’ discussion; a set of crossword clues; a ‘pair of opposites’; an alphabetical order sort; an ‘odd one out’ task, or a focus on a prefix. There is a template document from the Inset day in the Literacy folder, ready to be customised for the content of your lesson and ‘saved as’.



Try to keep warm in wintry weather (there is no ‘e’ in ‘wintry’). TUTORS – one morning between now and the end of half term, ask your group to look through their exercise books for commonly misspelled words – typically, these will be ‘embarass/ed’, ‘beggining’, ‘definate’, and many others. Refer to the ‘Spelling Aide Memoire’ document in Teachers/English/Literacy if your students claim not to make spelling errors, and use the strategies in this document to commit the correct spelling to memory. Please feel free to add to it! Students then enter approximately four or five in the ‘My Spelling Page’ of their planners.



Don’t neglect pronunciation – it can be easy to overlook, especially if the word is written on the board. Although you may have spoken the word aloud, if students were not focused at that point then they will not have heard it. Use the stress pattern of other words to commit the word to memory. For example, you could refer to the rhythm of ‘affirmative’ when encountering the word ‘superlative’.



Everyone Reads In Class’ (ERIC) can be ineffective: weak readers feel anxious awaiting their turn or try

to predict what ‘their’ section will be; strong readers race ahead of slower reading that may be taking place. Instead, read the material clearly yourself, so students hear how the text is supposed to sound (or ask an effective reader in the class). Everyone must have their eyes on the page during reading: if class reading is to have any benefit, it is crucial that students see the printed word at the moment they hear it spoken. Insist that all students’ eyes are on the page and not on displays / planners / out of the window.



When completing comprehension, encourage variety in sentence structure. An easy way to achieve this is to begin some sentences with the answer and to begin other sentences with the question. For example, “What is the capital of Belarus?” / “Minsk is the capital of Belarus” / “The capital of Belarus is Minsk”. “What is an atom?” / “The smallest unit of matter is called an atom” / “An atom is the smallest unit of matter”.



Promote Standard English in the classroom. Articulate speakers are more successful, even where the quality of other work is equal. If students use non-standard spoken English such as ‘writ’ (wrote), ‘wrote’ (written), ‘brang’ (brought), ‘ain’t’ (haven’t / isn’t), ‘off of’ (off), etc., then repeat the word/s in a quizzical tone. Usually, students spontaneously correct their own language.



Encourage and praise tidy presentation from the first lesson, so that well-presented work becomes a good habit. Be specific about whether the L.O. is also the title, or if the title is in addition; ensure these are underlined. Date work and label C/W. Write next to the margin across the width of the page.