You only get one opportunity to make a first impression and to engage your reader. As such, written accuracy is essential and it is essential to recognise that it is not acceptable to continue to make the same errors year after year.
How can written accuracy be improved?
• Always strive for accurate expression. Every piece of work should be checked for basic errors and also for opportunities to improve expression and develop ideas. Where possible, ask someone to read over your work to help you to identify inaccuracies and challenge you to develop your ideas.
• Check that sentences have been used properly (capital letter to start and punctuation at the end)
• Incorporate imaginative use of vocabulary
• Use the Literacy pages in the planner to support accurate written expression
There are some common errors which lots of people seem to struggle with and these have been identified by the English Department as the ‘Top Ten’. The aim is to ensure that everyone is able to use the following list of language features accurately and reliably which will dramatically improve the accuracy of written expression. It is important to learn the rules rather than simply guess which is the appropriate choice!
• possessive apostrophe
• plural – ys and ies
Anxiety about spelling is one of the major barriers to confident writing. However, it is a barrier that with practice and patience can be broken down to produce a confident communicator. Our aim is to promote the value of accurate spellings and the impact it can have on their writing. The ‘Dirty Thirty’ identifies commonly misspelt words which many people struggle with.
The Student Planner includes pages to record any words that are causing difficulties. If a few spellings were learnt every week, it would have a dramatic long-term effect on writing.
Many children leave primary school with fairly proficient reading skills. However, reading as a ‘life skill’ requires so much more than this. A modern day curriculum requires students to be able to access increasingly more complex texts as a means of achieving qualifications in a variety of subject areas.
How can reading ability be improved?
• Ask questions about the text: Why? How? What might happen next?
• Read regularly – 30 minutes a day!
• Read with another person and then discuss the text
• Read a variety of interesting texts e.g. fiction and non-fiction,
• Visit a library or book shop to inspire varied reading
The Practice of Literacy at Thorp Academy
Literacy is the key skill which underlines successful standards and is integral to the understanding of information across the curriculum.
Literacy in Writing
Students at Thorp are encouraged to apply language explicitly and contextually, explaining reasoning coherently either orally during collaborative classroom learning or in written work, using corrective punctuation, grammar and spelling practices.
The students learn to articulate complex concepts with descriptive and creative vocabulary in each directed task across a wide range of topics, using specific marking criteria and techniques to evaluate and correct their work.
In English lessons students are taught to provide descriptive language and analyse narrative perspectives from an array of texts and genres. They recount, argue and persuade in oral and written assessments and study poetry, prose, scripts and non-fiction themes acquiring extensive vocabulary and terminology which can then be applied to further subjects.
Implementing competent spelling strategies in classrooms is apparent by the posting of word charts for each subject comprising of the ‘Dirty 30’ most misspelled words at GCSE. Spelling practice tests are given frequently to students in subjects such as English, MFL and Science.
Across the Academy, students in each form group are given the task of seeking out new vocabulary each week, along with the word definition, to present to the class.
Literacy in Reading
Wider reading practices are implemented from Year 7 providing texts at appropriate reading levels for the range of student reading abilities. Students develop their reading in English lessons with active literacy strategies such as skimming and scanning and reading intensively through the Accelerated Reading scheme.
The programme works by the comprehension of vocabulary a student understands. Once a book has been read, the student completes a quiz on the book to determine how much of the text has been remembered and understood. The scheme enhances reading fluency and helps students to acquire a variety of comprehension skills, increasing their recognition of complex vocabulary. A reading target is given to each student termly to retain focus on consistent reading and quizzing.
Regular discussions with students describing the books they are currently reading builds oral skills by the student eloquently discussing plot, characters, narration and genres which strengthens their understanding of the book and prompts their opinion of the story through evaluation and review.
Pleasure reading is additionally encouraged by staff alongside the Accelerated Reader programme as this is how we facilitate reading for meaning, making connections between reading choices and genre preferences (fiction versus non-fiction) with language improvement.
Literacy in Research
A further literacy skill taught in the Academy is research. Subject teachers, when setting homework projects, encourage students to develop research skills by giving them a choice of tasks to complete based on their learning of a specific topic.
The students use a wide range of media to accomplish these tasks, independently researching information from books, online websites, articles, apps and videos. Individual research allows students to analyse, locate and use information effectively to form an essay, build a project or create a presentation in their own way and at their own learning pace.
The benefits to independent learning are many and varied.
Literacy skills Extended vocabulary and understanding of text
Self regulated management of timeDeadline dates
Improved motivation Breakdown of task and exploration of subject
Learning skills Styles of learning practice particular to the student
Students are encouraged to read widely around their subjects in the interest of gaining multiple skills which can then be applied to classroom learning environments with a greater understanding of the topic, raising standards and achievement in academic performance.