Cross Curricular Themes vs Literacy-Led
Over the past decade, many schools have developed 'Cross Curricular' themes through which all or most subjects are taught.This aims to enhance pupils' interest in their learning.It would often be accompanied by a 'Class Read', a book which had a link to the 'Topic' or 'Theme' and could be shared at the end of the day or another suitable time in the timetable.
Cross-curricular approaches generally make links to subject skills and treat 'themes' as ways to practise the skills; the typical pattern is for schools to come up with themes that tend to only be connected at a surface level.Sometimes teachers take a theme such as 'Egyptians' and then interweave pupils' work around it content but without any true sense of a goal or true purpose.The subject matter becomes 'information' rather than a quest for learning.For example, pupils might learn some general information about the pyramids, taking part in map work and gathering information on location in Geography and looking at Egyptian art in Art, perhaps with students making their own versions.These elements are linked by some general competencies, such as speaking and listening skills, research skills or reasoning skills or creativity. Creativity might be expressed in all aspects of the work or in some final project.Are pupils learning to think about the subject matter and truly use the correct terminologies in appropriate ways?
With a 'Literacy-Led' curriculum, the 'Class Read' becomes a 'Core Text', the central theme through which pupils are taught. The language that immerses them in school and the out of class learning opportunities have direct links to the Core Text.This ensures that pupils have an in-depth understanding of what is happening in the text, their vocabulary is enhanced as the words they hear and read are now part of 'what they do' and, in turn, written work that they produce is more meaningful.
With a Literacy-Led curriculum, we first need to ensure that teaching staff are using a quality text - one which allows pupils a window into other worlds while still maintaining a mirror into their own.All teachers in school are expected to have a deep understanding of the Core Text that has been chosen and are expected to have read the text fully before planning and delivering lessons.Age related spellings are found within the text, to be taught explicitly, as is age related grammar from within the book and 'supplementary texts' which complement the Core Text being used.External visits and cross curricular opportunities are planned to enhance the vocabulary from the text; this ensures that all pupils are immersed in the language of the story so they can use the vocabulary in the correct manner, verbally at first, when they read the language in the text they will understand what it means and it will end up being used successfully in their writing.
Each year group choose the 'Core Text,' which links to a half termly 'Big Question.' The 'Big Questions' have been created to help develop the reasoning skills of all the pupils within the Academy. The questions are designed to be very open and stimulate conversation and debate, this then allows the lessons planned to be child centred and child led. The 'Big Questions' are also designed to continue the development of vocabulary, using language which will stimulate conversation. The reasoning skills developed and acquired through quality teaching are then transferable to the wider curriculum, creating children who are independent, inquisitive and have a thirst for learning.