I thought for some time about whether there should be separate sections for literacy and numeracy on our SATLIGHT Blog or whether they should be included as parts of the Teaching and Learning Model page.
One part of me firmly believes that we shouldn't view them as being separate to our teaching model but rather integral to it. The act of learning to read, the act of learning to think and then to communicate through speech and writing in different subject domains and the act of learning to manipulate numbers and analyse numerical data are fundamental to learning across a school's curriculum. However, there are a range of strategies which we've put in place that go over and above our normal teaching and which are used outside of a classroom setting. It's these strategies which made me decide that both literacy and numeracy should have their own pages.
In order to increase our students' engagement with and enjoyment of reading, we have implemented Accelerated Reader across Years 7-9. Each day, these year groups spend twenty minutes individually reading their books. Students are also expected to supplement this with a daily twenty minute reading session at home. All of our English classes have a session each fortnight in which their English teacher and the Learning Resource Centre Manager will support them in their book choices, Accelerated Reader quizzing and target setting relating to reading. The impact of this is measured through the Accelerated Reader web interface as well as the STAR Reader tests which are used to gauge progress three times a year. A range of rewards are used to further encourage students in continuing to read.
In addition to this, once a week, all students in Years 7-11 take part in a thirty minute Drop Everything And Read session with their tutor group. We are currently working with staff and students to remodel this process around a whole tutor group reading text rather than the individualised book boxes which have been in place previously.
Further opportunities are made to celebrate reading through the use of assemblies, vibrant displays, and events such as World Book Day and National Poetry Day.
Over the past year, we have also been running Ruth Miskin's Fresh Start programme to support a small number of our students to consolidate the decoding skills which they hadn't previously mastered.This has had a significant impact on the reading ages of these students and will therefore affect their life chances.
In terms of writing, in addition to delivering training to staff, we provide a range of resources to support students' writing in the classroom. Many of these are stored electronically on our shared network, but there is also a paper based Literacy Toolkit which students have available to them, where they need it, in each classroom.
Excitingly, only today, we had a visit from David Didau who, if you are unfamiliar with his work, has a website which can be found here. David challenged us on a number of areas to develop further in our practice and we're really pleased to be able to say that he will be supporting us in working on these over the coming months. These were:
- Ensuring we support and challenge students in using an academic register in their thinking and in their speech so that the quality of their writing improves. We can see that there are clear links between this and the strategy of Format Matters from the Teach Like a Champion work we have been doing.
- Implementing a shift in the way in which we mark for literacy so that the responsibility for checking, proofreading and subsequently redrafting work is placed firmly in the hands of the students and thus empowering the students to become better writers. This will require an adaptation of the Literacy Marking Codes which we have been using and a shift in mindset of our students which we know they are more than capable of.
- Developing a methodology around building students' academic vocabulary.
It was great to have David in today as it enabled a number of our fantastic Currliculum Leaders to discuss these areas with him and how they might link to the work we've already put in place - for example, in terms of our mastery curriculum - but also where they can develop practice even further in these three key areas with his support. David will also be working with us on a number of enhancements to our English Curriculum.
Over the coming months we look forward to be able to post further details relating to these developments.