Lighting the Literacy Fire

My second professional development experience was on Monday evening when four of us from school attended a workshop presented by Jill Eggleton. Jackie and I had been to a course a few years back with Jill and Jo Windsor as well before she passed away and we had been inspired then so I was looking forward to re-visiting their work. They wrote the book Linking the Language Strands which was so good that I bought my own copy!

She talked about education being not about filling the pail but of lighting the fire. I don’t think she meant to reference learning in the digital age but it still resonated with me.

The piece of her presentation that I particularly took away with me is the ‘News Book’. She suggests how the approach could work across the whole school.

An item of news from yesterday is showcased- it could be a newspaper item, photo, news or topic of interest. The teacher prepares a short unseen text based on the article. From that text the teacher highlights (unlocks the text)

  • a language feature
  • vocabulary extension
  • main idea
  • a thinking tool
  • mental picture
  • ‘text to self’ connection.

We read the text together discussing the features, then read it aloud in an interesting manner and the booklet is given to an individual or couple to respond to visually. This activity is a really quick, meaningful way to engage students and spark an oral/written/reading activity. As I am getting to grips with this technique I have written little prompts at the bottom of the text to remind me of my next teaching point. Each day the previous day’s text is re-read for fluency and when the booklet is finished it then becomes a part of the classroom independent resource- everyone can read it and hopefully there is enough of a connnection with the text that people will want to re-read it.

After having done this four times now since Monday the parts I particularly like

  • the building of the mental image- asking children to think of the sights, sounds, smells etc of what is happenning in the text
  • the quick way to showcase some thinking tool or strategy- hats, PMI, thinker’s keys, question chains etc
  • the text to self connection- how can students relate a personal connection to the text. ‘How does this relate to my life?’

I want to buy the updated version of the book now!

2 thoughts on “Lighting the Literacy Fire

  1. Thanks for adding me to your blogroll Allanah. I have added you to mine and I hope this is OK. Loved this post – a neat idea and well shared here. Thanks. Have a great holiday break.

  2. Thanks for this great reminder. I used to do this years ago and have got out of the habit. I’m going to start this next term in my Year 7/8 class with a news of the day forum posting on our interact website.


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