Literacy, Writing

Writing in the fast lane. 

 Yamina Bibi- Lead Practitioner 

Follow her on Twitter:@msybibi

 Re-inventing writing across the curriculum. 

Writing is art.
It enables us to process, explore and express our thoughts by putting pen to paper. With a strengthened focus in the new GCSE curriculum on students’ literacy and written work,  it could be said that consistency and  collaboration between departments is key to supporting our students to develop and flourish.

Therefore, we have a challenge for you. 

 A 200 word challenge to be exact.

It will take 25 minutes and we promise that it is creative, innovative and will excite even the most reluctant of writers.

Only 200 words?

The task was introduced, created and developed by @Xris32 in his blog with the aim of encouraging students to write independently and creatively while reducing workload. A different challenge task is set every Friday across KS3 English lessons with differing success criteria and key words.

How does it work?

Creative control lies with the teacher.

Before the lesson:

  • You select a topic that your students can engage with and invest in.
  • You create a success criteria that stretches and challenges your learners. The criteria can be based on key subject terminology, challenging vocabulary, historical issues or any key other area identified by you and your learners.

During the lesson:

  • Students write for 25 minutes responding to the task, while you circulate, read and give them feedback in the lesson.
  • Students share their responses and discuss their literary choices, and literacy.

Still need persuading?

Read what Melanie Corbin in 9H has to say about the 200 word challenge:

The 200 word challenge is an opportunity for self-expression through a limited number of words. We are pushed to give 100% in everything we do through our writing. This task literally forces us to double this by giving us multiple briefs and techniques that we must include. Although we are only allowed to write 200 words, it does not restrict us. Instead, it allows our mind to carve, develop and flourish around a given boundary. It would be great to implement this in practical subjects too to evoke the creative juices because the 200 word challenge is just that: challenging. 

You can also have a look at some examples of challenge tasks and student responses. 


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Examples of the challenges you could adopt or adapt from the wonderful @heymrshallahan.



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Challenge accepted?

So, why not create, adopt or adapt your own 200 word challenge? If you do, we would love to hear from you. Please share your ideas using the ‘comment’ function below.

Thank you.


The importance of oracy

Charlotte Paine- Assistant Headteacher 

In schools across the country, were you to wander into the staffroom, listen-in to a conversation in the corridor, or attend a meeting, I doubt you’d be surprised to hear a conversation about literacy taking place.  You would probably also expect to see frequent references to numeracy in lessons, as teachers make overt for students the connections between graphs in maths, geography, history and science – convincing their sceptical audience that yes, the interpretation skills really are the same across in each subject!  You might however be somewhat less likely to hear discussions around the importance of oracy.  Yet when our students attend college interviews, they will be judged on their ability to communicate their thoughts and opinions with clarity, much as they will when at university and/or job interviews.  At Sarah Bonnell, we are working hard to develop this triptych of skills, which we believe are vital for our students to become successful, articulate and confident young women. 

With this in mind, our Teaching & Learning team recently ran a CPD session inviting staff to reflect on their practice, identify existing strengths, and planting the seeds for development with exciting strategies to enhance literacy, numeracy and oracy in all lessons.

Below are three quick and easy strategies that you could use to develop oracy in your classroom.  We firmly believe that these work for any curriculum area, at any key stage. You’ll also see that we have included ideas on how to differentiate in order to provide stretch and challenge for all students.  

We would be keen to hear any feedback you might have from using these ideas through the ‘comment’ function on this post.  Please do share with us your top tips for developing oracy too; we are always keen to collaborate!
Follow @sbpedagogy on Twitter to see examples of these, and other activities in action!

String debate

Students using string to debate the evidence in favour of condemning General Haig for his leadership in WWI.

This student made five points, which is why she has the strong looped around each finger.
ArticulateArgument roll mats 1

Argument roll mats

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Students using argument roll mats to debate whether General Haig should be remembered as a hero or a butcher following the Battle of the Somme.