closing the vocabulary gap

Covid-19 and the Literacy ‘Matthew Effect’

“For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Matthew, 25:29 Six months ago everything changed. Covid-19 crashed into our consciousness and schools were closed for all but a few pupils. Ever since, school teachers …

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‘We Did Vocabulary Last Year’

“We did vocabulary last year.” I have the privilege to speak to lots of teachers and school leaders about vocabulary, accessing the school curriculum, along with the challenges of making a difference in helping develop the academic language of our pupils.  There is a natural trajectory I note, whereat schools recognise it is a challenge …

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More than Just ‘Word Walls’

Schools can be hectic places and the work of a teachers is seldom ‘done’. When faced with the job of a challenging new curriculum, particularly for our more disadvantaged pupils, tackling such work can feel nigh on insurmountable. Happily, when we shrink the problem down to constituent parts – like the effective teaching of vocabulary …

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Spelling: Avoiding Ignorance and Negligence

A version of this article was originally published in the excellent ‘Teach Secondary‘ magazine – you can subscribe HERE. It is well worth a read! Controversies and complaints about spelling are centuries old. In his Preface to ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’, in 1755, Samuel Johnson derided writers for their “ignorance or negligence”. Today, …

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7 Strategies to Explore Unfamiliar Vocabulary

A 10-year-old child who is a good reader will encounter something like 1 million words a year (around 12 novels), but crucially, approximately 20,000 of those words will prove unfamiliar (Oakhill et al. 2015). It is important then to support our pupils to develop an array of independent word learning strategies to explore and to …

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