Teaching and Learning Bulletin

Issue 14

I was very fortunate to visit Greenford High School as part of our borough's cross-school learning review. Greenford are interested in developing strategies and resources to support students in accessing a range of texts from across the curriculum. Below are some great ideas the team saw and would help all students to read new and challenging texts.

Text Blow Up

  • If you are focusing on an important extract of a text, blow it up onto A3 and leave space all around it.
  • Then write Bloom's questions or SOLO taxonomy tasks around the text.
  • Students can either decide which question or task to tackle or could work their way through all of them.

Extended discussion

  • Sometimes, giving students an extended time for structured discussion about a text can really help them to understand more subtle or implicit meanings.
  • If discussing for approximately 15 minutes, split the text up into chunks. Each chunk of text should have a structured question to scaffold the discussion.
  • All groups could discuss all questions; alternatively, two groups could discuss the same question for 10 minutes and then form a larger group to see if their discussion points were similar or different.

10 Word Challenge

  • Before giving a text to a student, decide on the 10 words that are important in understanding its meaning.
  • Write out the definitions of these words onto a sheet. Ask students to use these definitions to work out what the ten important words are in the text.

Quiz Quiz Trade

Students are given a section of a text to focus on. They are then given a slip of paper.

On one side, they write a question; on the other, the answer.

Students go around the room and ask their question to a peer.

Once the student attempts an answer, students trade their slips now they have a new piece of information.

Visual Notes

  • This is a technique from the Talk For Writing programme.
  • Students make visual notes to remind them of the content of a text.
  • An alternative for some students could be to draw an image to represent the key words in the text and write a sentence defining the key word.

What can you remember?

  • Display a piece of text on the board. Ask students to decide on the key words and come up to the board to highlight them.
  • Students then get a chance to discuss their definitions.
  • The teacher then removes the text from the board and students have three minutes to write down what they remember, using as many of the key words as they can.

Using an iPad or Visualiser to model and deconstruct

  • Using an iPad connected to Air Server or a Visualiser can show a student explicitly what good readers do when they are confronted with a new text.
  • Seeing an expert do this can be incredibly powerful.
  • The teacher can read aloud the text but show how to highlight, label or write questions in the margin as they go through the text.

Reading Experts

  • Some students could be given the text as homework before the next lesson.
  • The students will decide what aspects of the text other students might find difficult and create a list of questions to ask around these aspects of the text.
  • These students become 'experts'. Groups of students are attached to these 'experts' who will guide the students through the text.

Modelling taking notes

  • It is common practice for the teacher to go and listen to students talking in their pairs or groups. Often teachers will give some encouragement or ask questions.
  • A different option is to use the same template that the students are using to take their notes.
  • When the teacher hears a student make a good comment, they can add it to their blank template. After talking to the students, the teacher can put it up on the board and share with students the notes they made whilst listening. This can act as a stimulus for a discussion on how to take effective notes.