Skills transition (KS4 to KS5)

I really enjoyed the #Engchatuk discussion this week on KS4 to KS5 transition.  It feels like I spend more and more of my time thinking about KS5 and how I can improve my teaching, as well as developing strategies that we use in KS5 and can push back to the lower school.

Students have found my exam text particularly challenging.  I am in the third year of teaching it and it doesn’t seem to get any easier.  As I don’t have too much choice, I plod on.  Each year trying new ways to help students engage, to work independently and write eloquently.  If I’m honest, each year my results are a little disappointing (not horrific, but not amazing).

This, is the year.  I can feel it in my bones.  I think we have cracked the nut.  I can see the wood and the trees.  The pen is mighty than the sword etc, et al.  Something is different.  I don’t know what.  Perhaps our projects lower down the school are having an impact and therefore students arriving in year 12 are more independent, more knowledgeable and better equipped.  Perhaps this cohort are inexplicably drawn to Henry James and his craftiness.  Perhaps, just perhaps, I am seeing the payoff of three years of tinkering with skills transitions activities.

In case it is the tinkering that has helped, here is my journey to date:

Year 1 – obsession with Blooms

I was an NQT, terrified of having to teach KS5, let alone James’ The Turn of the Screw.  My solution was to ensure that students were able to access the text through the medium of Blooms Taxonomy.  Now the wisdom and sensibleness of this maybe questioned but for me it provided a reliable structure to ensure that we didn’t just talk about the story and the characters and for the students, it allowed them to develop a logical way to make sense of their thinking.

During this year, I created a set of Blooms activity cards and depending of my evaluation (or their own evaluation) of their strengths and needs, a student would pick a card from say the “comprehension” pile and carry out this task independently.  Below is an example of from the “knowledge” activities collection.


These cards and activities worked pretty well for a while, but it became apparent that I needed more and I needed to be more creative about the tasks I asked students to do.

Out came the “creative” activities cards.


Year 2 – Knee jerk obsession with assessment objectives

My tactic to cope with my results was to re-focus on the assessment objectives, and who can blame me?  The mantra became – “what is your AO4 Band 6 version of that?”  Sad, but true.  So, trigger new additions to my activity cards. The AOs.  Below is AO2.


Don’t forget students still have my lovely set of Blooms cards, so now the somewhat overwhelming option of 10 different colours to choose from.

But as the year drew on, I realised I was doing my students somewhat of a disservice.  So we ditched the cards and got whacky with string, and post its and youtube videos.  Most of my T&L activities are tried and tested on my amazing year 12s.

I wasn’t going to be kept prisoner by a bunch of AOs and some laminated cards.

Year 3 – Worth Taking a Risk

So, where now?  Less formulaic?  More?  Where is the balance?

Since making my AO cards, I have developed another obsession.  This time it’s with trees.


Each time we read Henry James, I have to ask myself this question – are we looking at a close up or the big picture?  The inherent ambiguities of the text mean almost any contrasting comparative works (fantasy or reality, truth or lies, beauty or beast).

So, of course, I started thinking about big picture and close up activities.  Although I don’t use the cards every lesson, students still enjoy the choice, the independence, the ability to achieve.  Below are some of my new, big picture tasks:

big picture

One of my year 12 classes has a saying – “the sky is not the limit”.  We were discussing what a lesson should be and one of my more conceptual students stated “a lesson should a journey beyond reality and dreams, beyond even the stars”.  I know, it doesn’t sound like a 16 year old from Croydon does it?

So, in the same way that we created our 50 things homework project, we are now creating our own sets of activity cards under the headings:

  • Risk taking
  • The sky is not the limit
  • Iceberg thinking (thanks to Caldies English for this)
  • The journey
  • Innovate then debate

I have added to this list a set on scholastic / academic language collection and use.  Students want this but don’t know how.  So I will endeavour to find some ways to develop this as well.

Part one of activity cards is now available on my free downloads page, more to follow soon – I am adding the scholastic language tasks at this very moment.

Any ideas on activities for our new cards, please let me know.


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

Killing the question, becoming more

I am free

When I first read about Kill the Question on @rlj1981’s blog ( the idea got me pretty excited.

I am vampiric when it comes to borrowing other people’s ideas and I loved that Rachel’s idea was so easily adaptable to the English classroom.

Below is what worked and what didn’t work as I tried to figure out how I could use this activity with my students.

Kill the question

Working up to it:

Rachel described this activity as a starter, for me it became a whole lesson and later as you will see a 2 hour workshop.  The idea is to ask students to look at a concept (or an essay question) from every conceivable angle.

Our year 12 students return after their exams and we normally start teaching year 13 material.  This year we were given a free reign and I decided to do some year 13 Literature prep by looking at philosophy and some of the great philosophers who have shaped the way we think.  Prior to this lesson, students had worked in groups to research and present on a specific philosopher or a period of history that saw some great advances in philosophical thinking.

The activity:

The activity itself is based on CSI and the idea is that students gather evidence to “kill” or in some cases “resurrect” the question.

You can see from the above, we “killed” to ideas – the only truth is knowing you know nothing, and freedom is a redundant idea.

Students were then allocated cards of a specific colour, and in their philosopher groups they had to gather evidence from their works (I would like to spare a moment for a quick thank you to Squashed Philosophers at this point).

Once students had gathered evidence, this was placed around the idea and we debated from the stand point of each philosopher, what they might say to “kill” or indeed “resurrect” this idea.

Kill the question 2

It was then that I realised I wanted to try this activity lower down the school.

As S&L debate this could be very useful – think of the connections that students could make – links to themes, character and setting, links to context, links to other texts and writers.

kill the question - lord of the flies

With my year 9 students, studying Lord of the Flies and Battle Royale, we took the bold step of using chalk on the carpet in my classroom.  Note – it did come off eventually, but only I after I scrubbed it…

The idea we killed this time was Malcolm X’s quote: Nobody can give you freedom; nobody can give you equality or justice.  If you are a man, you take it.

To begin I allowed students to write their “first response” to this idea on the carpet in chalk (another learning point for me here – don’t even bother trying to discourage year 9 boys from making your dead body anatomically correct – you are wasting your breath).   I was pleased and surprised that I got a full range of responses, not just what they thought I wanted to hear, but what they really thought.

After this, I put students into small groups and gave them each a non-fiction text that in some way added evidence to the idea.  I had an in-depth article about the science of the murder gene, another on nature vs nurture, one on dictators and the world history of overthrowing a government.  Students worked together reading this texts, using my summarising annotation scheme and then chose evidence to support or oppose Malcolm X’s idea.   Their evidence was placed on different colour cards and placed around the body.  We began to discuss it.

Finally, I have each student some green cards, I asked them to find evidence from either of the texts we were studying (most chose Lord of the Flies) or from the contextual evidence we had gathered about Golding and Takami.

Again, we then together looked at each piece of evidence.  As a class we weighed it against our own thinking, what we felt to be true and we created a collection we were happy with.

This collection could have been used to write an excellent essay – if that had been the plan, which it should have been, looking back on it in hindsight.

Next year then.

What came next?  The workshop

Kill the content  kill the question

For the first time this year, we ran a year 12 literacy day.  A colleague and I were asked to do a session on “talk for writing”.  Our kill the question activity, became Kill the content, kill the question.

We had about 40 students from the whole spectrum of subject areas and so needed something that would grab the attention of everyone.

The idea we went for was “religion and racial inequality are still the greatest flaws in our society”.   We knew everyone would have an opinion, we knew the ‘slightly’ slanted perspective of the question would insight fierce opposition and strong support.

year 12 literacy 2

As a warm-up each student was given a different statement which they had to respond to in writing at the start of the session.  We then placed students in groups and introduced the idea we wanted them to “kill” or “keep”.

Each group was given a whole bunch of different colour cards, which we had labelled in advance for them and they were sent off to research as much evidence as possible, from as wide a spectrum as possible to support, oppose or just explore the idea.

year 12 literacy

We expected each group to provide evidence from:

  • Their own personal experience, or their gut feeling
  • Historical evidence
  • Contemporary culture and current affairs (we quoted Black Skinheads at this point and discussed how music and art could be used as evidence)
  • Literacy and artistic
  • Political
  • Philosophical
  • Scientific
  • Psychological

We challenged them to come up with evidence from ‘their subjects’ that could contribute.

Once all the evidence was in, we then re-allocated one evidence collection to each group.  They summarised it and wrote that summary in one of the big thought bubbles on our chalk floor.  Together we read and digested everything.

Things that surprised me (and perhaps shouldn’t have) – the kids found it hard to come up with literary evidence (even the ones doing literature) and ended up citing Of Mice and Men.   Contemporary cultural evidence and current affairs evidence was very obvious – they cited the Woolwich murder and 9/11 but weren’t able to reference anything from the Middle East.  They couldn’t find any scientific evidence.  They didn’t bother looking for any artistic evidence – when I asked why, they couldn’t see what kind of art might deal with race or religion.  We discussed music but they couldn’t apply it.  I mentioned graffiti – they laughed.

The above makes it sound like this wasn’t a very successful workshop, but it was.  The debate, a standing debate – which I am a big fan off, once we got going covered a lot of ground.  Far more than we had evidence for.  Students did use the evidence they had gathered.   Most students contributed to the debate, they were about 5 who led it and were polarised in their own thinking enough to make it interesting.

Did the workshop or debate change their thinking on racial inequality or religion?  No.  It wasn’t meant it.

Did the workshop and debate help them see that in many ways everything is connected (don’t worry I’m not about to break into The Circle of Life)? Yes.

Becoming more

This workshop got me thinking.

For my year 12 students, I was left feeling that in those last few weeks before the summer I wanted to challenge them to broaden their horizons a little.  To become more than a Croydon teenager.

I stumbled across this resource on TES – and I fell in love.  This became my year 12s homework task each week until the holidays.  We made a list of 50 things and each week they would choose one (so did I) and come with some kind of evidence (generally photographic) before the following week.

50 things

The most popular by far was learning to cook a roast dinner, but students also learnt to iron, do the washing, do the supermarket shop.  They visited farms and museums.  One, who was afraid of hills, learnt to run down a hill.   We learnt to say “thank you” in 10 languages and to say “no”, particularly important when your Saturday job boss asks you to do extra hours the week before your exams.  I learnt to play the guitar and they wrote a song about Stanley and Blanche  – I would share it but it is inappropriate.  We googled the space elevator and asked our parents why we were given our names.

For those few weeks, we became more.

spaceelevatornicechicken guitar

An Ode To Nothing


This short blog post is an ode to a practical and useful book I have used in the last 10+ years of teaching grammar.  For anyone who’s interested and has the money, it contains 70 grammar, language activities which are aimed at developing language use (please see note at the bottom of this post though…).  It is a very low tech book.  That’s one of the reasons I love it.  It’s broken down into sections called “Activities using no resources” and “Activities using pens and paper only”.  I was as appreciative of these categories in a basement in Soho as I was in foreign parts.

Why should you care?

One of the interesting challenges of recent inspection / observation criteria is this idea of “just going with it”.  Whilst I don’t want to get into the debate surrounding the semantics of what this means or whether it should exist, I realise it does.  As an English teacher, and facing another academic year teaching only our lowest ability students, I recognise that sometimes “just going with it” won’t always be about jumping off the brightest spark and launching into the stratosphere.  Sometimes it will mean stopping everything because we need to revise adverbs, synonyms, idioms (the list goes on).  For me, the challenge of this kind of “going with it” is my lack of instant preparedness.  Jumping off an idea is easier.  Being instantly prepared to teach a grammar feature is a bit harder.

I used Lessons from Nothing before I went into teaching secondary English.  However, it wasn’t long before I found myself adapting and modifying my tried and tested favourites to match what was needed in my classroom.

Below are 3 of my favourite “instant grammar” activities.   There is nothing mind blowing here.  But that isn’t what I want when I am trying to “go with it” in the midst of everything else.

Adverb game (no resources needed)

Most of us will have played this game in some form, but perhaps not this one.   I brainstorm a bunch of actions (please blow your nose) and a bunch of adverbs (violently) in advance.  Each student takes a turn at the front of the class and they are instructed to dramatise one of the actions in the manner of one of the adverbs.

Please blow your nose – romantically.

Please stroke the cat – curiously.

The rest of the class guess the action first and the modifier (adverb) next, thus underlining that adverbs modify verbs.  Yes, I know they also modify adjectives and other adverbs – but not in this game.

Change it (no resources needed)

This is a re-drafting activity which helps students internalise grammatical constructions through verbal redrafting.  I use this activity more (I’m not sure why) when teaching non-fiction writing.

I begin with a sentence “The newspaper said the situation was unable.”

We discuss whether we have been given any useful or specific information.  The answer, of course, is “no”.

Students are then asked to change any word within the sentence (I try not to say “to make it better”), any change that is grammatically correct.

Examples of the changes include:

“The newspaper said the mountain was unstable.”

“The scientist said the mountain was unstable”.

It can also be used  to teach embedded clauses and relative clauses.


Useful for teaching synonyms where the definitions do vary by degree.

Get students to brainstorms all the synonyms for the word “small”.

Draw a staircase on the board.


Then agree together where each ones goes in relation to the others.

microscopic – tiny – little – small

Do you agree?  No, why not?  Which one would you change?

The Ode’s End

I would be interested to know if you have any instant grammar exercise that you use regularly, the more low tech the better.  I also don’t expect everyone to rush out and buy this book (if you are considering please see below).

I’ve also got a few more examples to add, which I will photograph and upload next term.

If you are considering buying this book, please be aware many of the activities are stalwarts of every English department.  For example consequence, hangman, tableaux, anagrams, crosswords etc.

No one jumps a twenty foot chasm in two ten foot jumps

No one jumps

I would love to fill your classroom tip top and full to brimming with all my literacy resources.  But I don’t think I should.  It’s not fair on you, it would suggest you don’t have anything better to do than laminate.

So, here are my top 10 literacy resources every classroom should have (yes, I have put them in order of importance – to me, that is):

1. Reading strategies

No matter what subject you teach, students will always need to read in your lessons.   Whether it is a worded question or a set of instructions, if your students are unable to decode and process the words in front of them, then you will end up spoon feeding them and they won’t make progress.

Here are 18 “Reading your pen” strategies, that I hope you can use in any subject.  This is the extended version of the annotation strategy in my previous post on summarising.

Just another way that you can support students’ reading in your lessons.

reading with your pen

Download the word version here.

2.  Connectives

Connectives are the glue that stick great ideas together.

Why do I want you to have connectives in your room?

Connectives are a brilliant way to extend students thinking and contributions without having to think up a whole new question.  I have about 15 connectives stuck up near the front of my room.  If a student doesn’t give me a full enough answer – I just go over and point to (occasionally whack) “for example” or “furthermore” or “because”.

The step then to integrating these into student writing is easy.  I can pull them off the wall, chuck a few at each group and away they go.

pritt stick

Want some?  Of course you do.  These lovely connective glue sticks (get it?) are from the days of TeachersTV, remember them.  Download them here.

3.  Analytical writing style guide (this one is a work in progress for me too)STYLE-Guide1

Ok, I get that there are subjects where the need for analytical writing is limited.  However, in general I find that most subjects do at some point require students to write a formal essay.

I am also aware that many of us will use structures, such as PQE, PEAL or SPEED, for these essays.

What I would like to see in our classrooms is more advice on academic writing style.

Perhaps we can champion the highest marking essays by putting them on the wall or creating a fab publication like this one

Most universities have an academic writing style guide – we should too.  When I say style, I don’t mean how to embed quotes or references.  I mean “how do I take my idea and turn into something that sounds clever and sophisticated”.

This is a huge stumbling block for many students.  So, this autumn I will be writing a style guide for academic writing in English.

You have one?  Please, please share it.

4.   Key words in context

I need to confess to a level of hypocrisy on this one.  I have lots of key words up on my walls – especially my favourite classical rhetoric techniques and my Words on Wednesday.  However, not all of them are displayed in the context of a sentence.

Why is this important?

keywordsStudents struggle with new vocabulary, they will listen and understand it in the lesson in which it is taught but the following week it might not be so clear cut for them.  With key words, if we don’t teach how it appears and can be used in a sentence, we can fall into the trap of setting students up to make grammatical mistakes.  Take the word “foreshadowing” for example.  A literary technique loved by authors and teachers alike.

I will teach the term in context “The foreshadowing in Chapter 3 ultimately suggests…”.  When we come to use the term later, this is what I generally get “Mercutio’s use of foreshadowing allows him to …” or “The dog’s foreshadowing shows…”

Students understand the term but don’t pick up the nuance that it is a technique the writer uses not the fictional character/animal.

From now on, all key words – in the context of a sentence.

5.   Books


Lots of classrooms have reading books in them.  If yours is a tutor room and you do reading as one of your tutor time activities, then you will probably have a collection of books you have gathered to support the less organised members of your tutor group.

I would like to see some fiction or non-fiction (but not textbooks) books that relate to your subject.  Not long ago I visited a school where every subject area had a box of books in their classrooms titled “what a historian would read” or “what a sportsman would read”.
I love this idea – it helps the kids who are interested in your subject easily identify something they can read, it also helps kids realise that your subject is about books too and it gives you the easiest “early finisher” task every (flick through this and find me something you didn’t know before).

If you can’t get the physical books – perhaps create a little kindle like display or print some of the book covers for the wall.

I do have a list of fiction books for each subject area – but it is on the server at school, which is down for its much needed summer nap.  I will upload it as soon as I can.

6.   Visual stimulus

It is very easy to think that literacy is all about texts – reading and writing them.  But for many of us, our ability to understand, analyse, critique and evaluate concepts starts as much from visual stimulation as it does writing or oracy.

Please, please, please cover the walls in your classroom with pictures that relate to your subject.  I don’t just mean diagrams or posters that relate to subject matter.

I mean pictures / images that challenge concepts in your subject area, that show sneak peeks into ideas and that represent the minutiae and the big picture.

Why does this help literacy?

Students who have weak literacy skills (unless SEN) often do not have weak cognitive skills.  They can’t perhaps articulate an idea with the level of sophistication you might like, but they can process the idea.  I often use images to give these students an opportunity to share ideas and make connections without having to be 100% rooted in words.  I will select a picture (see below) and ask a student to make connections between the picture and the text or character or theme and then they have something to share that does not necessarily demand that they have gotten to grips with every word on the page.

Here are examples from my classroom.  As you can see they are not directly related to my subject area.  But I have used them teach everything from Chaucer to Boy in the Striped PJs.

wall photos

7.  Questions


I am not going to preach to you about the importance of questioning.

What I will say is this.  Teaching students to think questions and ask their own, is as important as getting them to answer ours.

Having a few generic questions available – out on desks or around the room – will enable students with low literacy skills to develop higher order thinking without always being prompted by us.

Download here.

8.  Accountable talk 

I’m not sure when we all started talking about Accountable Talk, but whether we use the buzz word or not, the skills defined are essential and like the questions and connectives above, allow students an opportunity to practise out loud their analytical ideas before having to put it on paper.  This verbal rehearsal is essential for students who struggle with the brain-to-paper jump and for those with low literacy, accountable talk prompts can help them shape their talk into something more complex, without having to remember words like “valid” or “evidence” or “alternative”.

accountable talk

I have these displayed on a washing line around my room (along with the questions), again they are easy to take down and use as part of lessons.

Download here.

9.  Mini whiteboards

Again, I am not going to harp on at you about the value of mini whiteboards in the classroom.  If you have a set available, please do use them.

Just a few benefits for students who struggle with literacy are:

  • It’s less daunting that an A4 lined page
  • If a student makes a mistake, they can make it disappear.  Have you noticed how your students with low literacy also have the scruffiest books?
  • They can facilitate shared and collaborative writing – which can take the pressure off having to be in charge of all the words.

10. Yellow highlighters / Green pens

Lots of primary schools use green pen marking.  In secondary it’s harder.  I feel like we have less time.  Even as an English teacher, I generally don’t have more than 2 lessons to spare for one piece of written (unless it’s coursework).  But I have been converted.

Giving students an opportunity to correct and improve their own work is invaluable.  Highlighting where they have met the success criteria builds confidence and correct with the green pen weeds out the lazy ones, who can’t be bothered with spelling Shakespeare correctly and gives students an opportunity to see how they can move from good to great.

See my SPAG toolkit post for more on green pen marking and glow and grow marking.


There you have it.

Some notable exceptions include dictionaries and literacy mats.  I don’t have a problem with either of these and have both in my classroom.  But feel other subjects I feel that useless we are prepared to invest in subject specific dictionaries then the pocket ones are a waste of time (iphone apps are better).  Literacy mats are a funny one – I have seen them used very successfully, I have also seen people spend months and months working on them, as if they were the answer to all problems, only to put them in the cupboard for most of the year.

The elephant in the room

When I became literacy coordinator for my school I was asked to consider what our biggest literacy challenge was.  At this point a thousand suggestions surfaced:

  • Kids don’t read
  • Kids hate writing
  • They can’t spell
  • Their vocabulary is limited to words used by The Sun
  • They don’t know when to use an exclamation mark, let alone a comma or a semi colon
  • They only give one word answers
  • When kids do talk the words “like” and “basically” make me want to jump out of a window

I paused and asked for some time.

That night I was helping my daughter “revise” for her year 6 SPAG tests, she had been asked to identify the prepositions and modifiers (adjectives and adverbs) around the nouns in a bunch of sentences.  My husband, who has a degree in Creative Writing, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) help.  So the task fell to me, an English teacher.

I have more grammar experience than many English teachers.  I worked teaching English as a foreign language for some years and spent a goodly portion of my life in the City typing, proofing and editing a book (it’s available on Amazon, although I wouldn’t recommend it

I am good at grammar.  Yes, like everyone I have my typo moments, brain freezes and words that fill me with dread (practise and practice are mine).  But I understand words and sentence structure and I get what makes good writing.  Correct writing is a different matter.  I am not a grammar nazi (although overuse of the exclamation mark does make me rant), I understand that language is fluid and changeable and like Darwin said it has to adapt to survive.

After helping my daughter and discussing with her what she had learnt at school, I realised that her anxiety was borne out of the palpable stress demonstrated by her teacher.  Year 6 SATs are important indicators for primary schools and the SPAG test is new.  A number of schools have had to re-teach their teachers in order to deliver the SPAG test prep (  My daughter was feeding on that stress and questioning her own skills.  We all do that.  But it got me thinking.

I went back into school and chatted to a number of friends.  I asked closed questions like “Do you know what a preposition is?” and “Can you give me an example of a comparative connective?” I wasn’t trying to catch them out, really, but I wanted to prove the point to myself.


You see, for me, the elephant in the room when we talk about literacy in schools is that most teachers can’t match the levels currently expected of a year 6 student.

This then became my biggest challenge.

How can I improve staff literacy awareness, confidence, skills without be labelled as judgmental or a pedant?

My colleagues are experts in their subject areas and I wouldn’t want to be judged on my ability to sketch a face or shoot a goal.

So why should they be judged on their “English” skills?

And yet we are.  Ofsted’s definition of literacy is reading, writing and communication – and these are expected to be embedded into the curriculum for every subject.


But what does that mean exactly?  What should I be tackling when I consider staff literacy awareness?

It wasn’t long after this that I met a like-minded colleague at a school down the road.

We posed the question – can we tackle literacy in the classroom without first tackling it with teachers?

Here are a number of the questions we have discussed:

  • Is it ok for teachers to spell things incorrectly?
  • Should all teachers demonstrate a good quality of spoken English?
  • Do teachers need to understand grammar terms to teach good writing in their subjects?
  • Does it matter if teachers make punctuation errors?
  • Does it matter if an LSA gives students incorrect grammar advice?

Now, if I look at this list pragmatically the answer is “of course it matters”.  Students should on all possible occasions be taught what is correct and true.  They should be given the best possible models and the best possible starting point, and incorrect spelling, poor punctuation and grammar are not the best starting point.

So how do we go about it?

Well, as with everything there are a number of possible routes.  For me, I think a drip feed route will prove to be the best option.

My drip feed approach:

  1. Opting into “Grammar and Cake” sessions
    At the beginning of next term all staff will complete a literacy audit, where they will assess their own literacy skills and be given the opportunity to attend a 20/20 twilight grammar session.  These will be fun, practical and edible.
  2. Language for learning tips
    Next year we have a new T&L newsletter, each one will have a language for learning tip which I hope will, in time, create a useful pack to be used when planning, marking etc.  Here is my first entry:language for life 1
  3. Literacy pack for staff
    This is an extension of my SPAG toolkit and some thievery from other colleagues.  It contains a basic booklet on grammar and punctuation (I will upload in due course), my literacy target stickers, a number of other planning and marking goodies.  I promise to do a post on this soon.
  4. Ideas for lessons
    Sharing ideas for activities that can be used in other subjects I hope will also develop staff understanding. At our school a 5 min teachmeet style slot at our Monday morning briefing is what I have to work with, so for example, I have a whole bunch of starters based on things like accountable talk (which improves good spoken English), connectives (improves writing), punctuation (well, this improves punctuation).
  5. The dreaded PM approach
    I suspect the reality will be that, at some point, literacy will become part of our performance management / observation structure.  Whilst I don’t mind this in general – as it would be great to be able to say something like X% of lessons observed demonstrated good literacy – I do worry that it will mean literacy becomes another shackle around our necks.  I don’t want to shackle anybody.
  6. Literacy for tutor time
    I know a number of schools that do literacy activities during tutor time.  I think this is a fab idea.  Looking at literacy “stuff” without the pressure of the curriculum, planning, assessment etc certainly sounds good.  If you do this at your school, please let me know.
  7. Homework
    Just like kids, sometimes doing a little bit of extra work at home pays off.  I have a whole bunch of “improving spelling, punctuation or grammar” resources that I have developed for kids.  Why not make them available to staff as well?
    Cambridge English (one of the TEFL qualification providers) do a number of online courses.  This one is free and can be completed in your own time.  I have asked a number of our LSAs to test it out in September to see if it is helpful.  So watch this space for a review.
  8. Extreme Reading, Staff vs Student Reading Challenge
    Our Extreme Reading competitions have been pretty low key so far, there is a lot more I could do with this.  I would also like to start a staff vs student reading challenge using the TES 100 Great Reads list

So the elephant in the room…I have hope it’s not such a big monster.

If you have any great stories or ideas about improving literacy skills for staff, please let me know.