What to talk about

30th January 1998 at 00:00
An aide-memoire for sharing texts with children. The National Literacy Project has three strands: Word level - phonics, spelling and vocabulary

Sentence level - grammar and punctuation

Text level - work comprehension and composition

Word level

* Reading unknown words combining phonic knowledge, syllabification and meaning to "decode" * How choice of vocabulary affects style, mood, atmosphere * Effective uses of vocabulary: rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, repetition * Investigate meanings of words - relate to other known words, prefixes, root words, suffixes * Synonyms, opposites and shades of meaning (for instance, 'quite', 'somewhat', 'very') * Incidental exploration of word origins, eg: Old English or classical roots, borrowings from other languages, new words ('fax', 'privatise'), old words ('henceforth', 'alas'), technical vocabulary related to specific text * Appreciation of word-play such as puns, anagrams * Words featuring spelling rules or patterns recently covered Sentence level

* Examples of grammatical points recently taught; opportunities to use terminology in context, for example: variety of verbs and verb phrases, adjectives and adverbs, interesting collective or abstract nouns, use of pronouns to refer back or forward, choice of conjunctions to convey relationships between ideas (eg time, cause, conditionality),use and construction of complex sentences * Standard English - non-standard forms in direct speech?

* Use of punctuation and layout to clarify meaning, convey tone of voice * Linguistic characteristics of text-type: narrative: past tense; first or third person narrative; use of direct speech; figurative language recount (eg reported events, observations): past tense, first or third person; use of connectives to indicate sequence, such as 'first', 'the next stage'..'finally' procedural (eg directions, instructions, recipes): imperative, present tense, second person; impersonal, concise use of language (eg lists) informational (objective description): impersonal: third person, use of passive; annotated use of language in diagrams or charts explanatory (howwhy writing, eg science experiments): impersonal: third person, use of passive; conditionality in verbs; causeeffect connectives persuasive (eg argument, comment, point of view) prescriptive verb forms, eg 'should', 'ought'; logical connectives, eg 'thus', 'therefore' Text level

* Purpose and intended audience * Source: how recent? author? type of publication?

* Level of formality. Personal or impersonal writing?

* Integration of illustration and text. Layout.

* Personal response to text: feelings, ideas, opinions * Literal and inferential comprehension * Evidence within the text for assumptions, predictions * Comparisioncontrast within text and with other texts * Discussion relating to text-type: narrative (eg story, anecdote): themes, issues; mood, atmosphere; style; story structure - plot: setting (time, place, culture); characterisation - different points of view, use of direct speech, stereotyping recount (eg reported events, observations): organisation of ideas - sequencing procedural (eg directions, instructions, recipes):organisation and layout - clarity, brevity, sequencing informational (objective description): structure - clarity, conciseness; technical terminology - definitions, meaning explanatory (accounts of how, why, such as science experiments): sequential, causal, logical connections; objective, impersonal language persuasive (eg argument, comment, point of view): structure of argument, balance and bias, manipulative language; evaluation - factopinion, reasonemotion

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