Where to start with your literacy reading

26 April 2018

Literacy: possibly the most research rich area of education. In many ways this is a splendid thing, reflecting the importance of the topic to pupils across the country. However, it can also seem like an overwhelming amount of information is out there, making us unsure of where to start.

To that end, here is a starter pack of 6 infinitely accessible and particularly interesting pieces of reading around the subject of literacy.

EEF Guidance reports

Available for Key Stages One and Two, these are incredibly useful because they are summaries of huge amounts of other research, meaning the evidence is robust. Their neat presentation and summary of key content makes them an ideal starting place.

The Magic of Words

Focusing on the importance of explicit vocabulary instruction, this article busts a few myths (children aren’t just word sponges) and then establishes a few key principles (selecting the right words and then ensuring there is repeated exposure), while always keeping an eye on what this actually means for a classroom practitioner.

What Reading does for the mind

Full of fascinating statistics about where children receive their language inputs (cartoons have more rare words per thousand than expert witness testimony, so relying on everyday adult talk is certainly not that helpful), this article leaves you in no doubt about the scale of the literacy gap. However, positive news comes in the sense that ‘reading yields significant dividends for everyone’.

How words cast their spell

With bonus points for the clever title, this articles focuses on the importance of spelling. It takes a look at the origins of English words as we have adapted and borrowed throughout history from Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Greek and French, plus many more. It also includes some useful advice on when certain spelling rules/strategies should be taught.

Disciplinary Literacy

Perhaps most useful for secondary colleagues, this article looks at the difference of the reading demands in different subject areas. As an Historian I might read for plausible explanations, whereas as a Mathematician I need to read for proofs. The real strength of this piece comes with the clarity of ideas for the classroom in the subject areas of History, Maths, Science and English.

Percentage of words known in a text

A little heavier on clearly very robust research methodology, but it is worth it for the nuggets of wisdom here. They include the conclusion that you need to know 95% of the words in a text (non-fiction) to ensure adequate comprehension. Even knowledge of every word probably only gives you 75% comprehension levels. So how do you boost that? The research suggests that background knowledge of a topic will give you a 5-10% comprehension boost.

If you are interested in thinking and reading more around the challenges of literacy, then sign up for our three day course, where we will look at the best research on reading, writing and assessing literacy.

Book here

Posted on 26 April 2018
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