Tag: active literacy

Reading Strategies in Action at Nethermains (P4)

nethermainsdCaroline Cane, Probationer teacher at Nethermains is really excited to share this story from her P4 class:

We were developing our understanding of a short text we watched online using our reading strategies.

First, we recorded everything we knew about treasure and put the word treasure into an extended sentence.

nethermainsaHere is an example from one of our pupils:

‘Pirate Pete was on a mission to find the hidden treasure when he arrived on a small island because he found an old treasure map in his ship’.


We then worked as visualisers and drew what we thought the story was going to be about based on the still image that Mrs Cane showed us.

Next we discussed who the character was and why they were looking for treasure. We created our own questions for our shoulder partner to answer.

One of our pupils independently wrote a fantastic summary of the text and used some interesting vocabulary.


Active Literacy at Ladeside Primary School


Here’s what’s going on at Ladeside:

Our Literacy RACI group has been focusing on reading for enjoyment. We have several classes involved in Paired Reading. Older pupils have been trained to buddy younger pupils. P7 been reading with LHS pupils at LHS Library. Calum Smith has been facilitating this. Yvonne Manning trained P6 pupils as storytellers. We have had a huge amount of input from the storytellers from Larbert community library and Falkirk Council’s Learning Resource Centre. We participated in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards by reading the novels and voting.

What do the pupils say about paired reading at Ladeside?

P.6 Big Buddy talking about EAL P.3 pupil:  “I feel that my Little Buddy’s expression and volume has improved since I started reading with him.”

P.6 Big Buddy: “I think that Paired Reading is important for the future because the younger pupils get help to understand reading better and then they will get a good job when they grow up.”

P.6 Big Buddy: “ Paired Reading helps with everyone’s confidence. At the beginning, my Little Buddy didn’t want to read and now she always wants to read by herself.”

P.6 Big Buddy: “The Paired Reading training will help me in the future not just when I read with someone but will help me to be a good learner and mini-teacher too.”

P.3 teacher: “Paired reading has been a great success with my Primary 3 class. The Primary 6 pupils were well organised, confident and excellent role models at reading. The Primary 3 pupils involved really looked forward to the days their Primary 6 buddies were coming. They read a variety of appropriate texts and were able to discuss them with their buddy and answer relevant questions.”

Parent of Big Buddy: “He’s having a really great year. We’ve heard all about the Reading Buddies. He was so happy to have been chosen.”

Raising Attainment – Sharing Good Practice Nationally

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Falkirk Council recently shared their approach to raising attainment in literacy at the National Literacy Network. Our Literacy Strategy was shared, with examples of good practice from each work stream. Colleagues from across sectors and from all over Scotland attended the session and feedback was extremely positive.

St. Bernadette’s pupils stunning rap demonstrating the 6 reading comprehension strategies was shared and was really well received. Colleagues really liked the way the pupils demonstrated their understanding in a very creative way.

Active Literacy work from Bonnybridge Primary School was also shared and colleagues were impressed with the range of active literacy strategies which were shared.

Colleagues were impressed with the work Falkirk is carrying out to support parents and carers. We shared some of our you tube animations for parents/ carers and parental leaflets. We also shared the you tube training videos which are available 24/7 for teachers to access to support the delivery of active literacy in the classroom and outwith.

Our key successes for this year so far have been populating the work streams of our Literacy Strategy, a consistent approach to teaching higher order reading skills and consistency of approach. Our next steps are to take the strategy forward even further to continue to raise attainment and close the gap.

It was a really enjoyable morning sharing good practice and engaging in professional dialogue with colleagues.

We are really excited to take this forward in the future.

Sharing Reading Approaches with Parents and Carers at St. Bernadette’s RCPS

parents 1 st bsParents and carers from St. Bernadette’s RCPS engaged in an active learning reading session on Thursday 26th February. Pupils from across the stages participated in the session sharing their knowledge and understanding of reading skills and strategies with both parents and visitors from St. Ninian’s Primary School in Stirling.

Falkirk Council’s Literacy team delivered the session sharing the good practice embedded in the school and two P6 pupils confidently and competently delivered a short presentation which included a very impressive i-movie and musical rap demonstrating reading skills.

Parents took part in a thinking reader session using the text ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’.  The strategies and key ideas to support children at home were shared and explained.

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The six strategies are:

1) Prior knowledge and understanding

2) Metalinguistics

3) Visualisation

4) Inference

5) Main ideas

6) Summarising.

The visitors were then treated to a marketplace style tour of pupil work from across the stages.

Feedback included:

  • This was enjoyable, fun, great insight into children’s learning. It’s amazing to have the evidence exhibited in children…. Amazing
  • Good to show how the kids learn and the wide variety of text. Learned how important the kids understanding the text is and understanding of words.
  • Very informative so impressed by the work of the pupils. Fab!
  • The session was very helpful. Helps me understand more about how reading is taught and delivered in school! Will use at home.
  • Very useful allowed insight into strategies employed within school (would be helpful having “bullet point” newsletter on this.
  • I really enjoyed this session. I find it incredible and inspiring to realise the skills the children are managing to acquire at such a young age.
  • Reading is a wonderful life skill so anything that encourages it is a great idea.
  • I found the session helpful in relation to encouraging reading skills to my grandson. Maybe an information night for grandparents/carers would be beneficial.
  • Really good to see such creative children that seem to really enjoy what they are doing.


Active Literacy – A Probationer’s Story

farmer duckAlix Thomson, a P3 Probationer teacher at Victoria Primary is delighted to share her experiences implementing active reading in her class. Here is Alix’s story:

This term my P3 class, at Victoria Primary, have been working on developing their comprehension skills, with a particular focus on summarising. The lessons have been successful and the pupils have really developed their skills, so I thought that I would share them with you as you said to send on anything that was working well.

The class began developing their summarising skills by focussing on key words. They used key words in lots of different ways.

  • Picking out key words in reading books: choosing the most important word on each page and explaining why; covering up words to see if they were essential for understanding the sentence.
  • Using different forms of text to further our understanding of the importance of key words: using shop catalogues as their text, pupils had to pick key words to describe an item to a partner without using the name of the product – could their partner work out what they had chosen?; watching or listening to news stories and noting down the key words.
  • The class also started including key words in our Busy Starts: key words from a well known story or film were displayed on the smartboard and pupils had to work out which book or film it was; this then progressed into pupils setting challenges for classmates – what film were their key words describing?

Then pupils developed their understanding by using key words to help them to summarise texts.

  • Note taking: whilst watching a short video clip of our class book (Farmer Duck), we took notes on a whiteboard, trying only to note down key words; these notes helped us to create storyboards summarising the story.
  • One sentence summaries: pupils had to write a sentence to describe their reading book; this skill was then used throughout all curricular areas with pupils using one sentence summaries to describe any of our lessons, or to recap on learning during a lesson.

Literacy Strategy Celebration of Success

Monday 12th January saw over 100 people attending a celebration of Falkirk Council’s Literacy Strategy event at Camelon Education Centre. Representatives from all of the 8 work streams including parents, pupils from Bonnybridge Primary and Grangemouth High School, teachers, Education Scotland, Library Resource Services,  businesses, partners, Falkirk Herald, Forth Valley College, the author Stuart Reid, librarians, development officers from neighbouring authorities, Scottish Book Trust, Employment and Training Unit, Moneywise Project, Entrepreneur Me and Renella.

Key note speakers Helen Fairlie, Literacy Development Officer, Education Scotland and Anne Pearson, Acting Director of Education started the celebration event off with positive news about how Falkirk Council are raising attainment in literacy.

After hearing the key note speakers, participants broke off into work stream groups to engage in professional dialogue and share their contributions to the literacy strategy to date. They then examined next steps and further ways forward to support ‘zero tolerance to illiteracy’.

Here are a few samples of photographs from the event:

IMG_3640 IMG_3641 IMG_3642 IMG_3643 IMG_3645 IMG_3647 IMG_3649 IMG_3651 IMG_3653 IMG_3655 IMG_3658 IMG_3659 IMG_3662 IMG_3664 IMG_3665 IMG_3671 IMG_3672 IMG_3674

Active Approaches to Reading at Early Level


Falkirk Council’s Early Level literacy mobilisation team have been working hard on support materials for Early Level staff. The focus is on early reading skills and the team have produced a short document outlining approaches to support the teaching of early reading skills. The document provides examples and photographs of ‘The Thinking Reader’ in action at this level. Sharon has been working with a number of nurseries including Larbert Day Nursery, Denny Primary School Nursery, Hallglen Nursery, St. Margaret’s Nursery and Nethermains using this approach. St. Francis RCPS have taken the Thinking Reader approach which is embedded across the school and adapted it within their nursery. St. Francis have produced wonderful work included in a ‘Thinking Reader’ floorbook which they are sharing at a good practice literacy event across the authority.

To access this document, please click here: Active Approaches to Reading Dec 2014

Thinking Reader at Bainsford Primary


Emma Cuthbert, Interim PT at Bainsford Primary School is delighted to share the wonderful work her P2/1 class has been carrying out in relation to higher order reading skills. 

The class have already studied Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers and completed a thinker reader booklet. The start of this session has been spent on Book Detective skills and roles and comprehension related to their reading books.

They have recently studied Pink – again by Oliver Jeffers and you can see some evidence of their hard work here.

Emma and her class are making an extremely valuable contribution to the Literacy Strategy and plans to go onto applying these skills to other texts. Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer is really impressed with the quality of reading here and has invited Emma to share this good practice at an authority CPD event.

Can you spot the 6 comprehension strategies in operation here?

1. Prior knowledge and understanding – what do you already know about penguins? What do you know about pink?

2. Metalinguistics – can you spot the tricky words or phrases? Can you find the word ‘penguin’ in the text?

3. Visualisers – can you draw of a picture of the story so far?

4. Inference – reading between the lines questions

5. Main ideas

6. Summarising

The children really enjoy the Thinking Reader approach and here are a few quotes to share:

“I really enjoyed ‘finding the evidence’ in the book” Ella

“Can we do these again for a different story? They are fun.” Jack

Young Writers Competition 2014

Thursday 27th November saw the first ever Falkirk Herald Young Writers Competition Awards ceremony. Colin Hume, Editor, Falkirk Herald said “In an age when there are so many competing pressures on youngsters’ time, it is gratifying to see so many prepared to put pen to paper to engage in that most traditional of pasttimes – telling a story”.

Over 2,000 entries were submitted to this competition where pupils were asked to write a Kelpies inspired piece of fiction or non-fiction.

The winners were as follows:

P1 – Joint 1st prize – Ava Green, St. Andrew’s RCPS and Isla Deane, St. Andrew’s RCPS, 3rd prize winner –  Andrew Gregory, St. Andrew’s RCPS

P2 – 1st – Ruaridh Smith, St. Andrew’s RCPS. 2nd prize – John Oscar Walker, Comely Park. 3rd prize – Hazel Barlow, St. Andrew’s RCPS
P3 – 1st Emily Graham, St. Francis Xavier’s RCPS. 2nd prize – Katy Walsh, St. Andrew’s RCPS. 3rd prize – Michael Rogan, St. Andrew’s RCPS

P4 – 1st prize – Amelie Purdon, Airth PS. 2nd prize  – Edwin Walker, Comely Park. 3rd prize – Shannon Neville, St. Patricks RCPS

P5 – 1st prize – Samantha Graham, St. Joseph’s RCPS. 2nd prize – Daniel McCue, St. Joseph’s RCPS. 3rd prize – Roisin Diamond, St. Patrick’s RCPS

P6 – 1st prize – Marnie Izatt, Carron PS. 2nd prize – Chloe Ashe, St. Margaret’s PS. 3rd prize -Lucy King, Antonine PS

P7 – 1st prize – Meredith Rae, Ladeside PS. 2nd prize – Sophie Golding, Beancross PS. 3rd prize – Comely Park PS

High Schools – 1st prize – Darcie Izatt, Larbert HS. 2nd prize Rowan Ferguson, Grangemouth HS. 3rd prize Thomas Rintoul, Denny HS.

It was a super evening. The overall winner was Emily Graham P3 from St. Francis Xavier’s RCPS. Well done to all pupils who entered.

We all look forward to hearing about next year’s competition!

Literacy in Denny Primary Nursery – A Good Practice Story

Denny Nursery at Denny Primary School have kindly shared this good practice story. Lee Campbell, SEYO says:

“We have been very  busy over the past few weeks learning about creating characters and stories using a variety of materials and numerous other activities The children have had a fabulous time in and out of Nursery. There has been some great work going on, but here is a wee taster of what has been happening”.

These are their Learning Intentions:

 We are exploring a variety of stories.

We are learning how to create stories using our imagination

 We are exploring words and rhymes.

We are learning to identify sounds and words that are familiar to us.

We can apply what we learn in our play.