UKEdMag: Literacy and topic in context by @ThisisLiamM

A practical idea to incorportate topic ideas into Literacy...

LaTiC (Literacy and Topic in Context) was born out of a visit to Nene Park Academy (@NeneParkAcademy) in 2014. At the academy, while visiting for the day, I observed ‘Literacy in Context and Culture (LinC2)’ being taught in Year Seven. I took this idea (being used to bridge the transfer from KS2 to KS3) and adapted it for my Year Five cohort. Here’s what I did:

I looked at which of our cross-curricular English / topic links would best suit this type of teaching. I picked out our teaching of explanation texts and its link to rivers and river systems. The unit of work would have an outcome of writing an explanation text of ‘How a River System Works’.

We’ve currently taught in this style for three weeks of the school year. In future, we may increase, but for now, it’s just used as a one-off.

The first step was to take two classes and put them into four mixed ability and mixed class groups. Sixty children split four ways: fifteen per group.

Next, we worked backwards from what we wanted the outcome to be (writing an explanation text) and created lessons and independent activities based upon giving children the knowledge and skills required to completed that end of unit outcome. We needed twelve independent activities, twelve teacher lead activities and then three lessons at the end for planning, writing and editing.

Over the three-week unit, we had five lessons per week, so fifteen hours in total. In this, each session was thirty minutes long. Here’s an example from rotation one:

Group A: River Channel Explanation Comprehension (Independent)

Group B: Sentence Type (Teacher 1)

Group C: Key River Term Definitions (Independent)

Group D: Explanation Text Features Identification (Teacher 2)

Over day one and two, each group would rotate through this and cover all four parts. Days three and four would have the next rotation and so on… Every thirty minutes sees two groups working independently, learning or deepening geography knowledge, while two groups work with a teacher on aspects of the English element - writing an explanation text.

Having fifteen children for thirty minutes provided the opportunity to spend more time with each child, better understand misconceptions and facilitate discussions between peers. Teaching children an aspect of a text type while they’re also experiencing the learning of the subject knowledge to accompany it also allows features, sentences types and punctuation to be even more explicitly taught in context.

The teacher has to, over two hours…

This is an extract of the article published in the May 2015 edition of UKEdMagazine. You can view the web edition freely by clicking here. The online version of this article was updated in 2020 by UKEd Editorial in accordance with website and policy changes.

Liam is a Year 5 teacher and team leader at a four form entry junior school. He is a computing subject leader and half of half of @PrimaryIdeas and is in his ninth year of teaching. Find him on Twitter at @ThisIsLiamM.

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