Sneak previews;Primary;Reviews;English;Books

12th June 1998 at 01:00
The literacy hour is nigh, so think now about resourcing implications, says Sue Palmer.

At this stage in the summer term, September seems a long way away. Wise headteachers and language co-ordinators are, however, already planning for next term's major challenge - the National Literacy Strategy. With every teacher expected to introduce a daily literacy hour (or something better), the resourcing implications are enormous, and now is the time to start thinking about them.

Next week's two Literacy in Focus exhibitions in Merseyside and London, staged by the Educational Publishers' Council, provide opportunities to browse through what's already available and find out what's coming in 1998-99. All the major publishers will be there, and the EPC has also invited suppliers of useful equipment for the literacy hour, like overhead projectors and big book stands. There's a wide-ranging seminar programme and a debate featuring John Stannard, director of the National Literacy Strategy, on issues arising from the literacy hour.

The exhibitions focus entirely on literacy resources, but there will still be a plethora of material to see - so be focused about your school's needs.

The range of big books for shared text work - the major resourcing requirement for most schools - is growing daily. Look out especially for new large-format non-fiction, like Heinemann's Discovery World and Longman's Pelicans.

Big books are, however, expensive and it might help to supplement your collection with poster-sized extracts and poems, such as those produced by Cambridge University Press and Kingscourt, and the poster company PCET.

Puffin is also preparing posters of extracts from their books - Literacy Bytes - with accompanying teaching notes. Another way of providing shared text, especially in Year 5 and Year 6 classrooms where children are getting too big to gather round a big book, is to use overhead projector transparencies. There can be copyright implications here, so check with publishers whether extracts from their materials may be reproduced on OHP.

Sets of books for group reading are another major expenditure. The simplest way to create a core of such sets is to buy multiple copies of your current reading scheme, and the major publishers all produce guidance on matching their materials to the requirements of the NLS. If you want to start from scratch, there are now several courses developed specifically for guided reading (Kingscourt's Literacy Links, Folens' Foundations for Reading, Nelson's Ready to Read, Collins Infoactive). However, some were originally developed abroad and adapted for the English market, so check that they cover the latest NLS framework.

Most schools will want to add to core stock - especially at key stage 2 - with good quality fiction, non-fiction, poetry and playscripts. Bearing in mind the need for a wide variety of genres, sets of anthologies might not go amiss. John Foster is preparing a poetry anthology based on NLS requirements for OUP, and some of the new complete language schemes include pupils' anthologies of various genres of writing.

It is all too easy, however, to concentrate on resourcing text level work, and forget sentence and word level, where many teachers feel particularly lacking in confidence. At key stage 1, the most pressing concern is usually phonics, and new materials based on the NLS framework are now on the way, including Heinemann's Rhyme World and Ginn's Big Book Phonics.

Specific resources for teaching sentence and word level at key stage 2 are less easy to find. Apart from the perennial copymasters, most publishers seem to be addressing sentence level as part of wide-ranging materials covering the literacy hour as a whole. Ginn's Passwords and Heinemann's Focus English are complete NLS language courses, with teacher's guides and pupils' anthologies, skills books, homework books and copymasters.

Cambridge University Press also has a complete scheme, Passport to Literacy, including large format text extracts and separate pupil's books for world, sentence and text level.

Unfortunately, the most up-to-date materials won't be on view at the exhibitions. Since the final version of the NLS framework wasn't available until this spring, materials written to cover it are still being developed. The resource I particularly want to see won't be ready until January - a new version of the First Steps materials from Western Australia, reformatted to fit the NLS, to be published by Heinemann. Nine teacher's books contain detailed guidance on how to teach the NLS framework while at the same time addressing the varying developmental needs of children in your class.

But although you won't see the books at the Literacy in Focus exhibition, Rhonda Jenkins, First Steps consultant, will be speaking about their contents as part of the seminar programme.

Literacy in Focus exhibitions Haydock Park, Merseyside, Tuesday June 23

Business Design Centre, Islington, London, Friday June 26

Further information from the Educational Publishers Council: 0171 565 7474lSue Palmer will be speaking on how to teach punctuation at key stages 1 and 2 at both seminars

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