I just wanted to start by thanking all of you for your work around Word of the Week and The Day – the feedback has been so positive, and it seems like both you and the students are enjoying having access to current non-fiction texts and being able to engage in discussion around a range of topical subjects. All your work is helping to raise the profile of reading in our school and engage students with the wider world which will help all of them – whether they read widely or very little. This is so important especially given the way the literacy gap has widened further during lockdown.
I thought now would be timely to offer some suggestions about how to best utilise the period 4 literacy slot, especially as I know how pushed we are for time when students are needing time to eat – sometimes I feel like I am cramming to include both Word of the Week and The Day into a short session which will take the fun and enjoyment out of it!
To help manage the time, I have introduced the first prefix for this half-term (equal) in the first literacy session at the expense of looking at an article from ‘The Day.’ On the board, we explored other words, from multiple subjects, with the same word in it and worked out how these words were connected – equilateral, equality, equilibrium. We then recognised the connected as being ‘the same as’, or ‘balanced’. This has set-up students for the next few weeks where we will look at the words ‘equivalent’, ‘inequality’ and ‘equilibrium’ in more detail – but I have done the ground word for the meaning already. We can then explore morphology and the role of prefixes as we come across new words (see the graphic below for how to discuss these aspects of vocabulary and this Alex Quigley blog post for ideas on building schema through vocabulary instruction).
To help students remember the Word of the Week, I will pick an article from The Day this week and ask them to use last week’s word to respond to the article. I might choose an article on the U.S. election for my year 9s to discuss democracy linked to the word ‘equal’ and ‘equality.’ This has saved me time in lesson so that I don’t have to rush through a new word and then a discussion article, but it also means I can expose students to the new word multiple times to help them remember it. In a few weeks, I shall begin with a 5-question quiz on the meanings of the words we have looked at so far and positively acknowledge students who contribute their answers.
Nobody writes anything down in my literacy lessons so that I can encourage discussion but I have seen some excellent work in other tutor groups where word webs/mind-maps and example sentences have been written down in the backs of PSHE books for students to share their ideas and to help with memory.
Thank you again for your work on vocabulary development and reading – each new word learned is empowerment for all our students, helping to unlock more and more of the challenging curriculum and the world around them.
Written by Charlotte Hare