More than a bowl of spag (my Goldsmiths presentation)

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with PGCE students at Goldsmiths University, talking about literacy and working with students who struggle to access reading and writing.

Here is what we discussed.

If you are interested in the texts we used and the activities we shared, here they are:

The strategies handout – Handout – strategies

The poem – Auschwitz by Elizabeth Wise

The non-fiction text Auschwitz info


5 min literacy plan

5 min literacy plan

If you’ve used @TeacherToolkit’s 5 Minute Lesson Plan, you’ll know how quickly and easily it can revive the often time constrained art of planning.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out (  I love Ross’s plan because it is a finite document.  I have to hand-write it and am limited by how much of my big scrawl I can fit in the boxes.  I don’t have the time or the space to faff or to second guess myself.  It forces (or perhaps that should be ‘allows’) me to think in a way that works for me.

5 min lesson plan

So, in that spirit of reducing time and increasing focus in planning.  I have drafted a 5 min literacy plan and I want to emphasise the draftiness of it, as I would like of you to test it out for me and let me know what works and what doesn’t.

Here it is, just click to download 5_min_Literacy plan or at

5 min literacy plan 2

How does it work?

I imagine this will sit alongside another planning document (like the 5 min lesson plan!).  I don’t imagine that anyone will use it for every lesson or need it for every group of students.  I imagine it might be useful when tackling a difficult, long or important text or preparing for a key piece of written work.

So, the BIG picture remains the same.

The outcomes and needs are perhaps more functional, designed to focus on what the students need to achieve in the end because this outcome will directly feed into your choice of literacy activity and then how you plan it.

I included needs along with outcomes because for me they are always closely linked.  If a student doesn’t have the vocabulary knowledge to understand a text, then I need to tackle that first before reading.  If a student needs a more structured approach to writing, then this has to come first.

Key words in context – enough said, I have posted on this in the past.

Having purpose – You will see for each of the literacy “hot spots” I have added space to include a purpose.

You see I don’t want to pay lip-service to literacy.  I don’t want it to be another box ticking exercise.  I strongly believe that engaging activities around talk, reading and writing will help students progress in every subject, but only if we use them with a purpose that is tightly linked to our subject.

If we are going to ask students to express their ideas through talk or writing, we need to know why they are doing it, what we want them to achieve.

If we are going to ask students to read something, then is it because they need to gather knowledge and information, or to explore ideas, what reaction and response do we want them to have?

Speaking – what questioning will you use?  How will you extend and develop students answers?  See some ideas on Extending student talk and Accountable Talk.

Reading – what reading age / level is it?  This will impact any reading differentiation (shortened texts for some etc).  How will introduce the text/ideas?  What will take place during reading (annotating, answering questions, gathering evidence, listening) and what will happen after reading to demonstrate understanding, comprehension, evaluation etc?

Writing – once you have sorted the purpose, how you are going to help students plan their writing (please make them plan it first), what are you going to do during writing to ensure they are producing something high quality and what can you and what will they do after writing to improve it (see my comments on glow and grown marking here).

Your comments, ideas and feedback needed

Please let me know if you use it, send me some pics of it filled in.  Please tell me what needs improving, changing, adding, removing.

I would like this to be something practical and useful.