I am able to support teachers, schools, local authorities and others in a number of areas, but most specifically in relation to developing literacy and English at ages 10-14. The following brief summaries give an idea of the thinking behind the key elements of that support, but of course each of them may be customised to meet the needs of the user, and they overlap in a number of ways. Please contact me for further details or discussion.
Reading Strategies to Improve Literacy
Improving literacy is a key feature of most education improvement plans, yet there is often a lack of clarity about how it can be achieved. Motivation, and understanding the key strategies involved in developing higher order reading skills, are the route to success. Over the past couple of years I have been looking at what some of the world’s leading thinkers have been saying about reading development and at the key strategies we employ as we move from acquiring basic reading skills to becoming sophisticated readers. These strategies are often regarded as “instinctive” but in order to be effective they need to be made explicit to learners. Before they can be made explicit, teachers need to be aware of what they are and how they can be developed. There are no reluctant readers, only the wrong texts!
Hands Up When You Can Tell Me the Question
Asking Questions is one of my Seven Reading Strategies. However, while most teacher training guides or courses focus on the quality of the teacher’s questions, in this seminar the emphasis is on developing young people who are good at asking questions as well as answering them. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a reference point the workshop looks in detail at a range of strategies and contexts which can be used to develop the young person’s critical literacy skills and in turn encourage them to be independent thinkers and lifelong learners. The workshop is practical and engaging, and provides teachers with the ideas which will transform their students from passive onlookers into active learners.
Improving Literacy through Moving Image Education
I have recently joined Scottish Screen’s core group of Lead Practitioners in Moving Image Education. This is an area which has huge potential for teachers as they come to terms with the re-definition of “texts” in Curriculum for Excellence – using the kind of texts which most of us engage with on a daily basis viz., short films. Through an understanding of the film-making process and through working collaboratively, young people develop the “traditional” literacy skills of talking and listening, reading and writing, while at the same time developing critical thinking skills and a better awareness of modern media.
Using Web 2.0 technologies to Improve Learning and Teaching
Working in Learning and Teaching Scotland has given me the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and knowledge of new technologies, internet and networking tools – such as Blogging, Wikis, Twitter, Delicious and a host of others – which can make learning and teaching much more fun and effective, and at no extra cost! Finding the right resources for the modern-day classroom need not be an issue if you know where to look, and with a few simple lessons teachers and learners can become part of a global learning network.
From Inputs to Outcomes – Making Sense of the Literacy and English Framework
As one of the original writing team for the Literacy and English Framework, I have a comprehensive understanding of the thinking behind the Experiences and Outcomes, and of Curriculum for Excellence generally. I have presented extensively on various aspects of Curriculum for Excellence over the past couple of years to a wide range of audiences. Whether you are looking at specific outcomes, beginning to look at interdisciplinary approaches, or trying to ensure that literacy is at the centre of learning and teaching in your area of responsibility, I can offer you unrivalled support and advice.
Improving the Transition from Primary to Secondary
HMIE’s Improving Scottish Education report in January 2009 had some fairly damning comments about the primary-secondary transition, confirming that in the first year of secondary school young people are still too often “passive observers in lessons”, and going on to say that “while many schools recognise that improving links with primary schools helps progression in learning, too many do not build on what has been achieved in P7.” While we are now very good at the social aspects of transition from primary to secondary, we are failing to build on prior learning when young people enter secondary school. Developing a common pedagogy, especially around literacy, can change all that.