At the Schools History Project conference this year I ended up in a lot of plenaries or workshops talking about literacy and its importance. The plenary by Dale Banham and Russell Hall and the workshop by Donald Cummings and Dan Lyndon Cohen being the best.
As with all good workshops they got me thinking and reflecting on my own practice and how I could improve. This isn’t to say I haven’t thought about literacy before, but the sessions really made me reassess.
In particular both sessions mentioned the use of ‘literacy mats’ – laminated self help guides that can sit under exercise books and be referred to during extended pieces of writing (interestingly my mum was using this idea years ago in primary schools). I loved this idea and also thought it could build on my work earlier in the year where I got Post-16 to visualise different parts of an essay.
So last week with the advice of colleagues in school and on Twitter I set about to make a literacy mat. I found an example of one on the schoolhistory.co.uk forum with time periods at the top so stole that idea. I used my visualisation of essays in the middle. Nicked Donald Cumming’s connectives from the Holmfirth High mat. Stole some grammar ideas from the English Dept at RGS. Added our own source work sentence starters, a brief bit about achieving higher levels that I’ve used with Year 9 this year and sat down with a colleague to make a list of the most commonly mis-spelled words. Et voila!
An image of the mat is below. If you click on it you can download a high quality pdf of it. Hope its of some use, I obviously haven’t tried it myself yet so look forward to next year!