Building on their previous Learning Matters volume, the authors aim to extend the subject knowledge of newly qualified teachers with this recent publication. It offers a depth of knowledge and understanding beyond obtaining QTS amongst those nearing the end of their initial teacher education. The book offers practical examples set in the context of teaching strategies to give a broad and rich language curriculum as advocated by the Rose review. The authors go beyond this though by giving the theory behind the practical examples linking directly back to recent research and publications. The example tasks and case studies encourage the reader to be reflective and consider the implications of teaching programmes, observations and assessments on future teaching and learning opportunities. The theme of personalised learning, although not explicit, is carried throughout. The authors discuss phonics in the light of the Rose Review and succinctly present the aims for phonics in the National Curriculum. Although the book touches upon the analytic vs synthetic debate, it does not exalt one above the other but simply looks at the necessity to implement a suitable phonics programme that is consistent, regular and enthusiastic with a consistent vocabulary and common approach across the school. It was at this point that I really felt this publication would be useful to any teacher starting out on implementing the new framework and who does not consider literacy to be their main strength. This publication could quite easily accompany the myriad of in- service training taking place in schools in order to aid the smooth transition from NLS to PNS. The book also enters into the fascinating world of etymology when discussing spelling. It provides useful investigations and suggests websites for working on spelling rules. The book ventures into changes in pronunciation and the changes in English spelling over the last 1000 years. It also looks at the economising of language and how this impacts spelling and the creation of new words via expressiveness. It give strategies for understanding how English words came to be written as they are to lead to more effective spelling on the part of teachers and children. The chapter on punctuation acknowledges that although many people find this scary there is very little advice on how to teach it. The useful case studies here show the different uses of punctuation in a move towards a more investigative teaching approach. It makes some very interesting key points here about using punctuation in different ways for different effects rather than learning strict rules. Handwriting, a neglected area of literacy, is discussed with the focus on the need to make handwriting more automatic in order to aid children s ability to compose. Although, as an ardent fan of the fountain pen an unnecessary evil (p.67) I found this a little tough to take, this chapter contributes to a thought provoking debate. I found the discourse on touch-typing particularly interesting. The chapters on reading comprehension I found particularly valuable. Again I felt that this would be useful to teachers who are challenged by this particular aspect of literacy teaching. It looks at the different types of reading across the day and how important these aspects are to the effective teaching of reading. Interestingly the section on Guided Reading echoes the Searchlights model which many feel should not be completely discounted in favour of the simple view of reading. The final chapter carries forward the debate of the future of reading and books. Like the rest of this book, this chapter does not disappoint in provoking some important thinking and provides some engaging tasks to be undertaken. --Review in ESCALATE, May 2008
The book provides an extremely comprehensive yet at the same time succinct overview of aspects of English that trainees must know in order to achieve QTS in an accessible and clear way. The tone of writing breaks the subject content down, especially useful for those trainees who may feel insecure about background knowledge in relation to their own literacy teaching. Each chapter is an entity in itself which means that trainees can dip in and dip out as they need; the book does not need to be read from cover to cover. --Lecturer, University of Cambridge
It provides a wide sweep of key areas in the subject which 'situates' new and student teachers well. I also like the addition of the chapter on the development of the language (Ch.3) because it provides the backdrop for the succeeding chapters. Chapter 9 is in the spirit of the Primary National Strategy in terms of teachers choosing appropriate texts and approaches for their class. --Senior Lecturer, University of Cumbria
About the Author
David Wray taught in primary schools for 10 years and is currently Professor of Literacy Education at the University of Warwick. He has published over 40 books on aspects of literacy teaching and is best known for his work on developing teaching strategies to help pupils access the curriculum through literacy. His work was made an integral part of the National Literacy Strategy in England at both primary (1997) and secondary (2001) levels. More recently he has acted as consultant to a number of electronic learning projects and has begun new research programs exploring the importance and teaching of handwriting, and the use of mobile learning devices.
Jane Medwell taught in primary schools in Cardiff and South Devon, before moving into teacher education. She has lectured at the Universities of Cardiff, Plymouth and the College of St Mark and St John, and is currently Director of Teacher Education and Associate Professor at the University of Warwick. Her research and writing has covered areas such as the teaching of writing and the use of electronic books to teach reading. More recently she has begun a major research programme exploring the teaching of handwriting, and has begun a unique programme of teacher education in primary Modern Foreign Languages. She is fluent in French and Russian, and is learning Chinese.