The first #UKEdChat session of 2015 took place with our popular Literacy Subject Special, which explored reading, writing, spoken language and cross-curriculum opportunities for teaching the important skills each student needs. Aimed at teachers in the Early Years, Primary, Secondary and beyond, the session aimed to share ideas, resources and pedagogy to support colleague to improve classroom practice.
Summary (By Sharon Stead):
Tweet of the Week: @eylanezekiel – Creativity in writing is not the same as filling an empty page[/pullquote]
This session was designed to elicit and share opinion on issues relating to teaching English in a 21st century classroom. Although the focus was probably more directed at senior school teachers, it was pleasing and very relevant to see input from our colleagues working in primary schools. The questions I had time to raise were: 1) Can Creative Writing be taught? 2) Do we think that the new Literature specs are a bit dull? 3) With whom does responsibility for literacy lie – English teachers or every teacher? and (controversially) 4) Do we think that some non-English teachers are embarrassed by their lack of SPaG knowledge?
Creative writing and whether it can be taught or whether that should be rephrased to nurtured/fostered/inspired captured the imagination of our respondents. Some simply replied ‘yes’ or ‘of course’ but others were keen to point out the distinction. ‘Creative writing can be taught but creativity cannot’ was one interesting tweet while another agreed but only if we first ‘get children excited about books and language’. Environment emerged as a key factor in nurturing creativity. It’s not always possible to take pupils out of the classroom but there are ways to change the environment/vibe with what we have. Primary Schools seem to be better at this! It was noted that there are now a ‘proliferation’ of post grad Creative Writing Courses and I suggested that Creative Writing Clubs are the new Book Clubs. It is on the rise and we ignore at our peril!
Where responsibility for teaching literacy lies was an interesting one. Most agreed that all teachers need to take it on. But do they? It was suggested that writing well for Science is very different to writing well for History – and that perhaps we need to raise the profile of literacy amongst our colleagues.
That speaking and listening is no longer a formally assessed at GCSE generated much interest, particularly among Drama teachers like my co-host @drama-holly and enthusiasts of the spoken voice. It was noted that there had been much resistance to the change and clearly, there remains strong feeling out there that this was an error on ofqual’s part. Lack of SPaG knowledge among non-English teachers may be an issue – but who wants to admit it #abitscary to suggest our dear colleagues are not as on SPaG as we expect our pupils to be!
About your host:
I am Head of English at the oversubscribed Surbiton High School, one of the most popular girls’ independent day schools in SW London. I’m also the United Learning Network Leader of English for all of our UK schools. I’m a mum of two gorgeous children, an ex journalist and passionate creative writer, culture vulture, reader and super keen runner. I write for emag and other publications. I am spearheading a Language for Learning drive through which I hope to engage non English teachers with their responsibility towards transforming the literacy opportunities for our future generation.