Literacy across the curriculum

July 12th, 2019

What does it mean to be literate? Is it being able to achieve the expected standard in national tests? Is it being able to know the difference between a subordinating and coordinating conjunction in your English lesson? Or is it far more meaningful? Literacy is the foundation of learning. All other subjects and disciplines depend on a child’s ability to listen, speak, read and write. Literacy is a hugely important life skill. Why then is it often the case that Literacy is only explicitly taught in English lessons?

Most would agree that Literacy should be taught throughout the curriculum, however the ‘how’ can be contentious. Some people misconstrue ‘literacy across the curriculum’ for literacy outcomes in foundation subjects. For me, History should be History and Science should be Science, with outcomes focused on the learning of that discipline. However, that doesn’t mean that Literacy can’t play a vital role and be a running thread through all other subjects. Take Mathematics for example, pupils need to be able not only to deal with numbers but read information; understand word problems; reason verbally and in written form; listen attentively to their peers and more. I wonder how many children would recognise all the Literacy skills they use when completing a multiplication problem? The answer is probably not many, but they should and will if we as a profession make the links explicit. If we prioritise Literacy across the curriculum, then we can deepen our pupils’ knowledge and skills in Literacy whilst also teaching the specific discipline. That way, we can have our cake, and eat it too!

So how can we prioritise it? If I had to give a one word answer it would be this…. BOOKS.

From books come knowledge, inspiration and much, much more. On a simple level, books might be used to provide ‘facts’ about a topic. However, on a deeper level, they can be used to inspire interest; build thematic links; build background knowledge and provide scope for comparison. By making links to quality texts explicit, we are well on the way to having a fully literate curriculum. With that in mind, Peters have developed a set of topic book lists that showcase the very best in children’s literature focused on topics and subjects often taught by schools.

As much as books are amazing, we cannot just throw any book at the curriculum and hope it works – books need to be carefully chosen and above all links mustn’t be forced. Karl Duke, who is one of our keynote speakers at #LitConf19, has structured his entire school curriculum around books. The books used to facilitate the curriculum at Blyton-cum-Laughton Church of England school are chosen specifically for their impact on the pupils and their learning. For more information, please visit the school’s website.

Our fourth annual Literacy Conference #LitConf19 is being held on Wednesday 9th October 2019 at The Studio, Manchester. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Literacy Across the Curriculum’ and we will be exploring how to prioritise Literacy in every subject, including using books and much more. Delegates will be treated to three keynote speakers: Karl Duke, Rob Carpenter and Vashti Hardy. Everyone will also have the chance to experience two workshops from a wide range of speakers such as Sophie Merrill, Voice 21, Sapere, Dom Traynor and many more. For more information please click here to view the agenda and book your place. Earlybird tickets are just £169 plus VAT!

We hope to see you there.

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