Ringing the changes
* incorporating drama? Try "freeze-framing" (children create tableaux of sections of the story) or "hot-seating" (the person in the hot-seat takes on the role of a character to answer questions). Useful techniques are described in the current issue of 'English 4-11' (available from the English Association, 0116 252 3982).
* using TV and video? New broadcasting to fit the literacy hour includes 10 BBC Words and Pictures programmes on long vowel sounds for KS1 phonics. The NLS recommends BBC's 'Grammar' video. (See BBC catalogue.) Or create your own material - for example, snippets of soap operas for discussing standard and non-standard English.
* using computers? CD-Roms provide on-screen text for shared and guided reading. Pairs or groups can use language-based IT programmes for directed independent work. Find lists of good software in 'The 21st Century A to Z Literacy Handbook' by Christina Preston ((0181 686 8769).
* changing the setting? Try holding your literacy hour in the hall for teaching verbs (lots of space to do all those "doing" words), the library for non-fiction research, the playground for phonic hopscotch (chalk sounds in the squares instead of numbers).
* letting someone else plan it? There's no harm in using published resources. Try the new (and incredibly cheap) key stage 2 Literacy Activity books from Letts Educational (0800 216592). Or the Developing Literacy Skills series from Hopscotch Harlequin, which provides copious teaching ideas with well-written differentiated worksheets (01926 744329).