Dixons Allerton Academy

Teaching and Learning Bulletin

Our weekly bulletin...

Each week, the Learning Team will circulate a bulletin covering all things Teaching and Learning at the Academy. Principally, the purpose of the bulletin is to keep all staff updated in terms of all the T&L news at DAA, as well as key events for your diaries connected with T&L.

Week 1 Focus: three ways to spark literacy in your classroom

What's in it for me?

Putting it simply:

  • Now part of Ofsted's official observation framework
  • Improve students' grades
  • Enhance engagement in lessons

More than anything, it really should make life easier; however hostile or disengaged your students seem, at some level, if they feel more able to approach a text and the task within it, then it can only increase engagement and confidence amongst your students.

VCOP Banners

For anyone below seven feet, the boards in many of our classrooms might present a *slight* issue. Why not make the most of this by helping students develop their sense of style in different forms of writing by putting a VCOP banner at the top of the board?

Before a writing task, you can then model/break down and write down key vocabulary, essential connectives, sentence openers and punctuation to heighten your students' sense of authority within their writing (whether it be entertaining, analysing, evaluating or anything else). Positioning the banner on top of the whiteboard enables constant writing and re-writing of these essential elements, and demonstrates neatly to students that all writing must consist of these four elements.

Sloooow writing...

Sloooooow writing is kind of what it sounds like, but better. If you want to ensure that students focus more on their writing, then you can do either/both of the following:

1. Ensure that they double space their work on a regular basis; aside from making DOLs want to come after you for burning through books, it's a useful way of encouraging drafting and reflection on written work of all kinds, and also a more effective way of demonstrating effective peer assessment, as comments can easily be inserted between lines.

2. When a task begins, you simply give students instructions sentence by sentence in terms of the content that they should include in an answer. For example, 'begin by stating your overall opinion of....' You could then build this and continue this however you like.

More on this useful style of modelling writing effectively can be found here.

Break it down...

Looking at a chunk of text can be a daunting experience for students of all abilities (not to mention also offering an extremely useful excuse to switch off). When studying a piece of text, one (or a combination) of these techniques could save some time/energy-

1. Divide a text into chunks by giving each small group the task of summarising a paragraph each, including key words, key points and any questions they have- each table then feeds back to the rest of the class, and the whole class can get the gist of a text before further analysis.

2. Explicitly teach the skill of skimming- glancing at titles, pictures and the first sentence of each paragraph and reporting back to groups/the class.

3. Use a Fox Thinking Tool (downloadable here). It is the shape of a doughnut; you can give each section a question based on a text, which a student takes and is responsible for answering; students can then individually respond to their question, putting their responses together to complete the doughnut, and write the overall key points in the middle circle.

4. Encourage a period of 5/10 minutes silent reading of a text, within which students can record any words they do not understand on a mini whiteboard. Definitions can then be researched and circulated.

Essential Reading for Literacy Lovers...

Dates for your diary...

DAA Literacy Teachmeet

Thursday, Oct. 3rd 2013 at 4-6:30pm

Learning Commons, DAA

On Thursday 3rd October, teachers are invited to take part in the first official Teachmeet at Dixons Allerton Academy. Teachers from around Leeds and Bradford are coming to see our new building for the first time to share ideas in relation to an age old problem...

‘How can we encourage individual reading and writing styles in our students?’

To sign up, please add your details here. If you don’t want to do a talk, that’s fine, just leave the last column blank!

Taking Twitter further...

Thursday, Sep. 12th 2013 at 3:45-4:45pm


An opportunity to build on your Twitter basics to direct your own CPD and engage your learners in and out of the classroom.

Hosted by ASA and DCR

Blogging and Weebly as an E-Learning Launchpad

Thursday, Oct. 3rd 2013 at 3:45-5pm


This workshop will offer you the chance to setup your own free e-classroom in order for students to access key materials and support both in and out of the classroom

Hosted by ASA and DCR

Advanced Whiteboarding...

Thursday, Nov. 7th 2013 at 3:45-5pm


Hosted by SOR/PBS, this workshop will offer the staff the chance to take their whiteboard and visualiser skills further to enhance the learning in your classroom.

Taxonomy of Errors for Leaner (not Meaner!) Feedback

Thursday, Nov. 28th 2013 at 3:30-5pm


Hosted by ASA/DCR, this workshop will demonstrate a new method of feeding back to your classes to make life easier and more efficient for your own teaching, and, more importantly, enhance the independence of your students in terms of acting on feedback and moving forward.

The Learning Team

Danny Carr (AHT)

Andy Sammons

Kiran Ali

Emma Butterworth

Carolyn Shaw