So what is the National Literacy Strategy? The National Literacy Strategy is an hour a day dedicated to reading and language skills. It takes the form of a highly structured and prescriptive timetable.
In the first 15 minutes, text level work takes place. Children are seated together, often on a carpet area, and discuss a text together. This may be a big book or an enlarged piece of text. Discussion covers such areas as character, plot, text layout and organisation.
In the next 15 minutes there is a sentence or word level focus. It is important that over a term there is a balance of both. It is important that sentence and word level work comes from the text used in the first 15 minutes. Areas raised may be antonyms and synonyms, verbs and plurals. Initial investigation involves the text but further extension can follow, instigated by the teacher.
The following 20 minutes are when group tasks are carried out. There are 2 guided groups (teacher led and focused) and up to 3 other groups that work independently. Group tasks often consist of guided reading, cloze procedure, vocabulary extension, writing and spelling activities; as varied as the teacher can devise.
A final 10 minutes is a plenary session and can be spent sharing work carried out in the 20 minutes, reinforcing any difficulties that have arisen or extending understanding.
-Initial experience of the Literacy Strategy has brought about many advantages and difficulties:
-Due to the time constraints the fast pace means many areas are covered and teaching is intensive.
-All children receive Focused teaching at least twice a week.
-Lower Ability children are supported by other children.
-Children are introduced to texts greater in difficulty than they may individually be able to access.
-Children need to increase their pace of work and be independent learners if the independent group tasks are to be completed.
-Children in the upper juniors (yrs 10-11) may be reluctant to participate in the use of ‘big books’, often to be perceived [and until now only] used with young children.
Planning and resource making can be time consuming.