Top 6 literacy tips for subject teachers

I was listening to a podcast about finance tips and the person being interviewed said that you should be able to put the most important tips or ideas on an index card (like those little cardboard note cards). I thought to myself, ‘What would be my top tips for subject teachers that would fit on a card?’

So here are my tips! I’ll be posting more about each one soon.

Tip 1: Work out how reading and writing and literacy in my subject is different from other subjects so I can teach my students about it.

Tip 2: Know the main purposes for writing in my subject, know the features of those types of writing and how to name those features explicitly and specifically.

Tip 3: Teach everything in context – vocab, spelling, paragraphs, written texts, powerpoints, all of it. ┬áTeach everything in the context of my students’ needs, my subject, my topic, my unit, my lesson.

Tip 4: Write examples or models of what the students have to write for assessment tasks. Don’t just talk about how to write – show an example of exactly what they need to do (because the students probably don’t really know).

Tip 5: Write with students all the time. Write on the whiteboard with the class. Write sentences. Write paragraphs. Plan longer texts. Do everything together with students before they do it on their own. As you write, explain what you’re doing and the features of the text they’re writing (see Tip 2).

Tip 6: Make sure the features of the written texts are in the criteria for assessment tasks. (Students should know exactly what they have to do to achieve the best marks, and afterwards, the criteria can be used to show students how they can improve next time.)

Easier said than done, I know! I’ll post more about each tip soon.


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