New direction for literacy

24th March 2006 at 00:00
My class of seven to nine-year-olds learned reading for a purpose and the importance of clarity when we linked direction in geography to precise description in literacy. They drew objects on paper, following my verbal instructions. I explained that if my instructions were clear and their listening skills good, all pictures should look similar.

I asked them to write their name in the top left corner and draw a cat immediately below it, then added more complex instructions. I could assess their listening skills, sense of direction, and understanding of words such as below, beside, and to the right of. When I wasn't specific enough some objects were drawn in the wrong positions. I apologised and explained I had learnt the importance of clear instruction.

We had studied the compass and its use in locating features on maps. They then wrote descriptions of imaginary islands. Pupils were encouraged to vary their sentence starts, not to begin each one with "In the northsouth...". Writing frames aided the less able. They then drew an island from another child's description. This involved them engaging in a reading and comprehension activity, inventing simple geographical symbols and artistic execution. Where a description was unclear, they asked the writer - eg "Where exactly do you mean the volcano to be?" or " What is the landscape of this island like?" It was a truly cross-curricular activity, with reading, writing, geography, drawing, and speaking and listening. The maps were displayed in the classroom and visitors encouraged to match each with the corresponding piece of writing.

Michelle Gregory Senior teacher, Oakfield First School, Windsor

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today