Tag archives: literacy across the curriculum

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

National Non-Fiction November – the value of children’s information books, some great articles and links to recent excellent titles

National Non Fiction NovemberIt’s National Non-Fiction November, a fitting opportunity to celebrate all that children’s non-fiction offers. Most importantly of all, good information books are fun. They inspire children’s curiosity and open up the world to them. They are accessible to readers of all abilities and interests. They make reading worthwhile and relevant to children who haven’t caught the reading bug through fiction. They also develop vital literacy and information skills, not least comprehension, so are perfect for delivering literacy across the curriculum.

There have been lots of useful articles recently on non-fiction for children.

2015 has been a fantastic year for children’s information books, and many are highlighted in these articles. These are useful sources for anyone keen to discover more excellent recent titles:

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

New courses: Object-based teaching and learning and Using artefacts to support literacy – plus website problems

Intractable and very frustrating problems mean I’m currently unable to update my website, so for the time being I’ll post my training news here on my blog.

footballThere has been an upsurge of interest recently in object-based learning, and I’ve created two new courses in response to demand. They are particularly relevant to school library services that offer artefact collections or topic boxes with objects as well as books, and are suitable as inset for individual schools and museums, and as regional or national training. Please get in touch if you would like extra details. I adapt all my courses to local needs and circumstances.

The lovely photo comes courtesy of Farnborough Grange Community School.

Using artefacts to support literacy

Practical, hands-on training to identify the value of object-based literacy learning and explore ways to embed object-based literacy teaching across the curriculum.

Participants can expect to gain:

  • more understanding of the role and benefits of artefacts in literacy teaching
  • the context in terms of the national curriculum and Ofsted
  • ideas for using artefacts to support reading skills and enjoyment
  • strategies for developing research skills, comprehension, inference and deduction
  • new ways to deliver literacy across the curriculum
  • methods for enhancing information writing and creative writing
  • greater knowledge of the SLS artefact collections and topic boxes and ideas for using them (where appropriate)

Object-based teaching and learning

An interactive course to explore the value of object-based teaching and learning and identify practical strategies to support learning across the curriculum.

Expected learning outcomes:

  • greater awareness of the role and benefits of object-based teaching and learning
  • ideas for using artefacts to support the curriculum and theme-based teaching
  • methods for fostering cognitive and problem-solving skills and critical thinking
  • strategies for developing literacy and comprehension
  • ways to develop information and investigative skills, inference and deduction
  • tips for nurturing creativity
  • ideas for lesson-plans

What people say about this training

  • A fantastic day. I feel more confident about using objects within my planning, teaching and learning. We have drawn together an action plan which will help us implement what we have covered today.
  • Thanks for today, the teachers were raving about it and they left buzzing with ideas.
  • It was really valuable to unpick the many benefits objects have in teaching and learning. I really enjoyed the practical and hands-on approach and the time to work collaboratively.
  • An excellent opportunity to further investigate our museum and how to use objects to inspire learning.
  • Interesting and stimulating look at how to use objects for teaching and learning. Useful models for learning.
  • I found talking about linking the objects to the different areas of the curriculum useful, especially linking to literacy.
  • I have a greater understanding about the effectiveness of objects in a learning environment and how they can stimulate children’s ability to be creative.
  • Now we have lots of ideas for how to move our museum and object-based curriculum forwards.
  • Enjoyed learning about different theories and approaches to learning.
  • Useful ideas for where to go after the questioning/exploration of the objects.
  • I learnt more about how using objects can inspire children’s creative thinking and cover all aspects of the curriculum.
  • Good strategies to improve my teaching practice.
  • Very engaging and interesting. Anne has tailored the day around our unique needs. This enabled us to get exactly what we needed as a staff without having to fit square pegs in round holes.
  • Practical activities looking at objects and questioning skills.
  • Useful activities and questions. Splitting up the planning process made it clearer, along with discussion between staff. Useful to use objects.
  • Great flow about the presentation, relaxed atmosphere, got everyone thinking and hugely enjoyable.
  • Showed how useful/important object-based learning can be. Great ideas and a feeling that we, as a school, had moved on/developed understanding.
  • Lots of imaginative and creative ideas that can be applied.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Information literacy and the school library – definitions, quotes and training

space project researchWhat a pleasure it was to give a course on information literacy for secondary school librarians last week. Information skills are more important than ever, and school libraries have a crucial role to play in helping students develop them. The photo shows some very active research in Caterham School library.

A recent EdTechTeam blog asserted ‘In an age of information abundance learning to effectively search is one of the most important skills most teachers are NOT teaching.’ That’s deeply worrying. And information literacy is about far more than finding information. This is the CILIP definition: ‘Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner.’ IL is important for life.

I like this breakdown of what defines information literate students. They:

  • know which questions are useful to ask
  • are independent readers, skimming and scanning to find what they need
  • know what is relevant, can select and reject information
  • read texts in different ways for different purposes
  • know when they have found enough information
  • make relevant notes and use them to support classwork and homework
  • synthesise and combine information from a variety of sources
  • cross-refer and compare information from different sources
  • re-present information coherently, demonstrating understanding and learning
  • evaluate their sources
  • evaluate their work and reflect on their learning

These are qualities and skills librarians are uniquely qualified to support. The late, great Mal Peet said ‘Libraries offer the arsenal in the war of understanding.’

There were excellent discussions on last week’s course about how libraries can help students learn crucial information skills. We explored ways to widen search horizons and reduce cut and paste and plagiarism, and identified practical strategies for supporting all areas of the curriculum – very pertinent with literacy across the curriculum so high on the educational agenda at present.

In the words of Gillian Cross ‘Anyone who has grasped the implications of independent learning will understand that the library is the heart of the school.’

I love this, from a student quoted in Student Learning Through Ohio School Libraries: ‘The school librarians don’t help me at all like they make me do all the stuff myself and won’t tell me where the things are even when I already looked – they show me and make me learn how to find the stuff myself and its hard work!!!! You gotta use your brain, they say.’ Absolutely!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Literacy across the curriculum – statements by Ofsted and in the new national curriculum

IMG_1208This term I am giving both primary and secondary courses on literacy across the curriculum, a sign of the importance of this issue. It is extremely high on Ofsted’s agenda, and the new national curriculum also places great stress on teaching literacy through all subjects.

I have pulled together relevant extracts from the national curriculum and statements made by Ofsted about literacy across the curriculum.

National Curriculum in England Framework Document

  • Teachers should develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject.
  • Teachers should develop pupils’ reading and writing in all subjects to support their acquisition of knowledge.
  • It is vital for pupils’ comprehension that they understand the meanings of words they meet in their reading across all subjects.
  • It is particularly important to induct pupils into the language which defines each subject in its own right, e.g. accurate mathematical and scientific language.

Ofsted: Moving English Forward

  • Too few schools have effective programmes for developing literacy skills across the curriculum.

Ofsted: School Inspection Handbook

  • Literacy includes the key skills of reading, writing and oral communication that enable pupils to access different areas of the curriculum.
  • Inspectors will consider the impact of the teaching of literacy and the outcomes across the range of the school’s provision. They will use the evidence they gather to inform the overall evaluation of pupils’ achievement, the quality of teaching and the impact of leadership and management on raising standards.
  • Progress in literacy is assessed by drawing on evidence from other subjects in the curriculum, where this is sensible.
  • The descriptors for an outstanding school include the following criteria:
    • The school’s curriculum promotes and sustains a thirst for knowledge and understanding and a love of learning.
    • Pupils read widely and often across all subjects to a high standard.
    • The teaching of reading, writing and communication is highly effective and cohesively planned and implemented across the curriculum.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Picture books at key stages 2 and 3 – why they are valuable and some great titles

DSCF1678I was delighted to give a course for KS2&3 teachers and librarians yesterday on using picture books. There were great discussions about how they support enjoyment and learning. The best ones have many layers of meaning, so they work with everyone, whatever their abilities. They benefit every area of literacy – fabulous for building comprehension skills. They’re great for fostering thinking, creativity and social and emotional development. And they are immensely valuable in terms of subject teaching. Literacy across the curriculum is heavily stressed in the new curriculum, and it’s something Ofsted is very concerned about. Picture books really help!

I made a promise on Twitter that I would share a list of some of my favourite picture books for these key stages. There are dozens I could have included, but I have restricted myself to these, all of which are very thought-provoking (a few are too young for KS3):

Allsburg, Chris Van: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
Baker, Jeannie: Mirror; Where the Forest Meets the Sea; Window
Baker-Smith, Grahame: Farther
Briggs, Raymond: Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age
Browne, Anthony: Into the Forest; Willy the Dreamer;  Willy’s Pictures
Child, Lauren: That Pesky Rat; What Planet Are You From, Clarice Bean?
Crew, Gary: Memorial
Davies, Nicola: The Promise
Duffy, Carol Ann: Lost Happy Endings
French, Fiona: Snow White in New York
Gaiman, Neil: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish; The Wolves in the Walls
Garland, Sarah: Azzi In Between
Gravett, Emily: Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears; Meerkat Mail; The Rabbit Problem
Greder, Armin: I am Thomas; The Island
Grey, Mini: The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon
Jeffers, Oliver: The Incredible Book Eating Boy
Kelly, John: Scoop!
Kitamura, Satoshi: Once Upon an Ordinary School Day
McEwan, Ian: Rose Blanche    
Morley, Ben: Silence Seeker
Pinfold, Levi: Black Dog
Rosen, Michael: Sad Book
Scieszka, Jon: Stinky Cheeseman; The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!
Snicket, Lemony: The Dark
Tan, Shaun: Lost Thing; The Arrival; The Red Tree
Thompson, Colin: How to Live Forever; The Last Alchemist
Wiesner, David: Art and Max; Flotsam; Tuesday