Sunday, January 5, 2014

What are they looking for in Literacy?

We know only too well, the standards of English have been declining in our society. The mobile and internet has lead to the birth of new ways of communicating, and with them, new abbreviated forms of words and phrases. This hasn't exactly helped familiarity with the written word, and the less we write the less proficient we have become.
I am not saying computers are bad, far from it. They allow for easy editing of our work, support dyslexics in creating pieces of writing not necessarily held back by their unique ways of representing the English language and make writing quicker and more efficient than the old pen and paper methods.
But, it has also taken away quite a lot and the out cry from businesses that "many overseas students speak and write better English that we do,” has caused OFSTED to wake up and start to demand higher levels and more skills from our KS2 pupils. And of course, they are quite capable of doing it, and, given the input will rise to the challenges presented to them.
If, in a piece of writing, a ten year old boy can write, "a piercing noise echoed in his ears as a gigantic, cunning looking dragon menacingly swooped in towards the bewildered figure" then who are we to deny them that opportunity? 
So the standards demanded in schools are on the up. How can we support that and what can we do to assist in their development?

Build their Word Power

Here are some games I have used in school in the past which transfer to the family very well and I know are enjoyed by those who play it, especially when mum and dad get things wrong!!

The dictionary game

In this game each of you will need a dictionary. One of you chooses to say the meaning of the word (whichever is chosen) whilst the other determines where in the dictionary the word is to come from.
Say there are 380 pages, then the person choosing their word will say which page, then say whether it can be chosen from the top, middle or bottom of the page. The person with the dictionary follows their instructions and at the last minute will choose one of the words from that area. They say the word and then the other person has to guess the meaning.
When I played this game in class, I would split them up into teams and each word they defined correctly would be awarded either 5 points for spot on, 3 for pretty good and 1 point for vaguely right. The team who won the most points would get a go at the sweets jar! You decide what the incentive is.

The alphabet game

In this game you choose a topic, say, ANIMALS, and then go through the alphabet in alphabetic order saying an animal for each letter. Again in class, I would have them all standing in a circle with a stuffed toy and as they said their animal the stuffed toy would be passed to the next person, that way everyone knew when it was their turn. In class, as there were 29 of them, as they could go they were knocked out and the winner got a go at the sweet jar?
It’s a good game and makes them think of words, which they already know but haven't necessarily realised they know.

I am thinking of a word

To begin, you decide on a category; this could be science, sports, books, or something fairly broad. One person thinks of a word from that category and says, "I am thinking of a word." The other person has either 20, 15 or 10 guesses to work out what that word is. The person who is thinking of the word can only answer "yes" or "no".

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