As a school, we subscribe to the EEF model of ‘disciplinary literacy’: this is the belief that literacy is key to learning across all subjects and that subject-specific approaches are crucial to raising the standards of literacy for all our students. All teachers should be promoting, and supporting, all their students to read, write and communicate effectively in their subject. Studies have shown that strong, well-rounded literacy skills are a strong predictor of outcomes later in life and it is our role as educators to champion literacy and ensure we are giving all our students the best opportunities to succeed.
“Every teacher is a teacher of Literacy”
Following the ‘Disciplinary Literacy’ model, there are six key strands that we as teachers must prioritise in order to promote high standards of literacy across the curriculum:
Provide targeted vocabulary instruction in every subject:
- Prioritise explicit vocabulary instruction of Tier 2 & Tier 3 words in your subject that helps students fully access the curriculum and express themselves clearly and coherently
- Use approaches such as ‘The Frayer Model’, ‘Talking frames’ and ‘The SEEC Model’ to promote depth of knowledge and make connections between words.
- Ensure that there is a progression of Tier 2 & Tier 3 words as students progress through KS3-KS5 and that opportunities to revisit language are planned into the curriculum.
Develop students’ ability to read complex academic texts:
(See ‘Reading’ below for further details on reading strategies)
- Expose students to a wide-range of texts related to your subject & encourage them to actively engage with what they are reading.
- Encourage them to use their existing subject knowledge to understand new texts whilst also engaging some of the approaches below (see ‘Reading’) to improve students’ comprehension.
- Clear modelling and group work is a crucial step to promoting independence and expertise.
Break down complex writing tasks:
- Writing is challenging & students will benefit from explicit instruction in how to improve in your subject. Whilst the general expectations of literacy (such as spelling, grammar and punctuation) apply to all subjects, the skills needed to write a mastery-level answer in Science differs greatly to the ones needed in History.
- Teacher modelling and mastery examples are good options to promote high-quality answers and provide students with a level to aspire to.
- To ensure high-standards of literacy within writing tasks, students must be given three things:
– The opportunity to plan their work prior to writing an in-depth piece.
– Constructive feedback from their teacher that highlights specific areas for improvement.
– An opportunity to evaluate and improve their work following feedback.
Combine Writing instruction with reading in every subject:
- Reading & writing are intrinsically linked as reading helps students gain knowledge which leads to better writing, whilst writing can deepen students understanding of ideas.
- Combining reading activities and writing instruction in your lessons is likely to improve students’ skills in both (Example: Reading an article on climate change in geography & writing a short opinion piece on the causes and their effects).
- Although a KS2 focus, the teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) may need to be done explicitly when using a particular skill in a piece of writing. To help with basic standards of grammar, ‘Bulletproof your work’ is a tool available on the L&T tools app to facilitate self-checking/proof reading work.
Provide opportunities for structured talk:
- Building on our work we’ve done last year with oracy, studies have shown that high-quality oracy and discussion contribute to a students overall literacy development as well as developing their ability to articulate their ideas clearly and coherently.
- Oracy also plays a large part in ‘closing the vocabulary gap’ and gives students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of subject-specific Tier 2&3 language.
- High quality talk is well-structured (see our ‘Talk Rules’ and ‘Group Discussion Roles’) and provides ample opportunity for students to articulate their views clearly.
- Teachers can support students by modelling high quality talk by including key vocabulary and metacognitive reflection.
Provide high quality literacy interventions for struggling students:
- Although this tends to happen on a wider-scale throughout the school (led by the Literacy Coordinator & L&T Leads) there is opportunity to provide intervention within lessons/homework.
- Intervention should be targeted to support those students with the weakest levels of literacy: this could include, but not exclusively, SEND students who may need specific resources/targeted work to ensure they are making the progress they are capable of.
- Homework provides a good opportunity to pre-teach new vocabulary or embed learned vocabulary. Using resources such as a ‘Vocabulary Grid’ encourages students to demonstrate their understanding of key vocabulary for your subject.
Reading is of utmost importance for all students. It is the sole factor that can impede their success in school and in life beyond SJB. Reading can impact life expectancy, a child’s happiness and can serve a key role in exposing students to content that they would not otherwise experience. Reading should be taught explicitly and require conscious effort from pupils. Great reading teaching develops pupils both in the moment and in developing excellent future habits. Effective teaching includes teachers reading aloud, pupils reading aloud, teacher modelling and explanation, and questioning. In order to fully develop the skills to read (and become a skilled reader) a child must be given the opportunity to practise a range of skills that lead overall to a clear understanding of a text:
- Decoding the letter combinations and sounds that form unfamiliar words to aide reading proficiency (accurate recognition of 97% of words)
- Fluency when reading with speed and accuracy
- Word Meaning must be fully understood leading to ultimate Comprehension of a text and its various modes and layers of meaning.
Skilled readers read automatically and effortlessly. There are a lot of subconscious processes taking place when we read, including inference making, predicting and drawing on what we know to make sense of the text. Over time, we develop automaticity in each of the components of reading. For children to achieve this level of proficiency, they need years of practice.
As a school we are committed to both encouraging students to have the opportunity to read, as well as supporting them in strategies to be able to read proficiently according to the skills required in their various subject disciplines. We will be continuing to develop our practice in Disciplinary Literacy this year, please speak to the Literacy Coordinator or one of the leaders of the 4Cs CLT for support with this, however, please try to do the following:
- Check each child’s reading age in your class on Arbor and ensure texts are modified accordingly (ATOS text reader, rewordify)
- Model reading fluency and decoding to the students by reading aloud as well as using oracy to encourage group discussion about a variety of texts.
- Provide opportunities for reading comprehension in class and for homework.
- Explicitly teach vocabulary to students using the ‘Frayer model’ and ‘SEEC Model’ use spelling & vocabulary tests – ensure that key Tier 2 & 3 vocabulary is revisited regularly to ensure understanding.
- Encourage students to infer the meaning of texts aloud, “It says…I say…So…”
- Promote oracy regularly within your lessons and facilitate high-quality, structured discussions that support your curriculum and encourage students to articulate themselves clearly and coherently.
- Promote reading for pleasure both within and beyond the curriculum e.g. 5 books to read if you love. Also ensure that you demonstrate your own love of reading and that you value it as a role model to your students.
- Use a range of academic reading tasks and materials for homework in order to have reading support your course/ unit progression.For additional strategies & resources go to: