This term, in keeping with many colleagues up and down the country, I sat down to think about my development objectives for the year. Tedious to some I know, but a task which I actually don’t mind. One area that quickly sprang to mind is literacy. As a school, we’re investing quite a bit of time and energy into looking at literacy across the curriculum, and, given my annual moan about the literacy skills of some of my Sociology students coupled with a general reluctance on their part to actually read, I thought this would be as good a focus as any.
One interesting approach I’ve read about has been used by Angmering School in West Sussex. They have introduced ‘SALAD’ days into the curriculum – speaking and listening active development. Here the focus is on developing, as the name suggests, the speaking and listening aspects of literacy instead of the perhaps usual work on writing. This immediately resonated with me, given how much discussion there can be in Sociology lessons. However, until reading this report (“Improving literacy in secondary schools, a shared responsibility”, Ofqual, April 2013), I couldn’t honestly say that I had given much thought to how I helped learners develop their speaking and listening skills; my focus had always been on the construction of essays, spelling technical words correctly and bringing in knowledge from world events.
I’m planning on introducing a SALAD lesson each term in AS Sociology with the aim of promoting constructive talking. My first session, planned for November, will focus specifically on group discussions. Students will be given prompt cards to aid discussion and different kinds of data to work with. The topic I’m planning on using this approach with is gender socialisation and the media so in terms of data this will mean Disney clips, magazine adverts, newspaper articles and blog posts.
I’ll feedback in a few weeks with how it goes and links to all the resources I use.
Natalie Davison teaches social sciences at a school in the South Lakes.