Chobham Academy Times.

Ideas to help incorporate literacy into any lesson.

Not just for English.

The subject you teach whether it's science, geography, maths or PE, has its own language. Your students will primarily understand your subject through reading or listening and primarily demonstrate their understanding through writing or speaking.

The secret of literacy is .... making the implicit explicit.

(Geoff Barton, Don't call it literacy! What every Teacher Needs to Know about Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing, Routledge/David Fulton, 2013)

Why is literacy important?

  • One in six people in the UK struggle with literacy. This means their literacy is below the level expected of an 11-year-old.
  • Seven million adults in England cannot find a plumber in a telephone directory.
  • More than half of British motorists cannot interpret road signs properly.

(Literacy: State of the Nation: A Picture of Literacy in the UK Today.)

So what can I do in my lesson?

Being able to read, speak and write effectively are the most important life skills students gain from education and there are some simple things any teacher can do to foster good habits:


  • All teachers should see promoting reading as part of their role.
  • Be aware of student's reading ages so they are not demotivated by worksheets that are too difficult to understand.
  • When setting homework, exploring any difficult vocabulary used in class can avoid problems for students when they tackle the work at home.
  • Consider things like layout, font and colour when presenting work, they can make a big difference for some students when it comes to reading.
  • Be a good role model; let your students see you reading, question them about their books, encourage conversations about books, news stories etc. By evaluating what they read students are more likely to remember and learn from it.
  • Make quiet reading time active and effective. After a period of reading get students to summarise what they have read to their partner. Alternatively print off a current news article and have mini debates.


  • Encourage students to take effective notes. Students need to have a good understanding before they can make notes that they will understand later.
  • Signpost key information and model good note taking on a whiteboard or similar.
  • Get students to critique each others' notes. What is effective? What could be clearer?
  • Show students examples of good writing in all forms so they can see the 'ingredients' used in that type of writing.
  • Show students examples of different types of writing e.g writing to persuade, writing to inform etc. This enables them to learn the difference between them.
  • Encourage them to 'Read, Review and Refine' their own work.


  • Games that involve discussion skills are a great idea for Do it Now activities.
  • Play word games such as Taboo; students discuss a topic they've recently studied without mentioning certain key words. Try explaining photosynthesis without mentioning 'light'
  • Prepare a 30 sec speech about yourself and then ask each tutee to do the same. A great way to discover interesting information about each other.
  • Teach It! Get students to devise mini lessons to present to the rest of the class.
  • Give students a chance to practise speaking formally. Invite guest speakers into your class and give students the chance to plan and pose questions and thank them formally.

School Wide Reading Culture

What does it take to create a culture of reading in a school? Staff and students from Auckland's Mahurangi College and Kingsford Primary School share insights on reading for pleasure, how it links to literacy, and what they do to get everyone in the school reading.

Creating a school-wide reading culture
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