Stephanie Keenan on wider reading: the 7 year plan.
What do we want the ideal A-level student to look like? This needs to be built from year 7. We discuss what our ideal students would look like. Do we agree with Stephanie’s list? Is it any different between y7 and y13? Should staff be teaching these skills?
At Stephanie’s school they made it a whole school, all years focus and gave staff CPD time for the development. Time is given to departments to develop their own literacy focused booklets to encourage wider reading. There is a focus on three things:
1. Speak like an expert: staff correct small speaking errors like ‘I done it’
2. Write like an expert: subject specific language
3. Aim high: DIRT time
It’s reinforced verbally in class and visually through posters.
The three main areas of focus is to:
1. explicitly teach tier 2 and 3 vocabulary (2 is words that are common in written texts but rare in speech; 3 is specialised vocab: key words)
2. improving subject knowledge through wider reading
3. SPAG: “think pink” – all teachers highlight spag marks that are then corrected in dirt time; also grammar workshops for staff.
Put reading ages on seating plans (reading age is one of my favourite strategies for differentiation in group work) and encourage staff to set wider reading texts.
Apparently, we need to know 95% of a text’s vocabulary to understand it. This means students often give up if they are struggling with the text.
We discuss strategies for teaching key words. Stephanie questions whether staff are teaching both tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary: I think 3 is easier than 2. Is it possible to ask departments to provide a list of all the tier 2/3 language necessary in their subject? Somebody makes the point that there might be significant crossover in command words among departments, so sharing the load for this might be possible.
Stephanie suggests some strategies.
Wider reading: focus on core knowledge, cultural capital and key/threshold concepts. All English homeworks are spg or wider reading based: recommendation is to alternate wider reading homeworks with subject specific homeworks. Reading a secondary text increases absorption of the primary text – try pairing fiction with nonfiction. Faculty challenge: