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Weak bottom set Year 7 English - HELP!

Discussion in 'English' started by tobyparish, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. Next year I will be taking on two bottom set Year 7 classes. The idea is to focus on basic literacy skills to embed these, before starting on the RAFs and WAFs.

    I would it to be focussed, but fun. Unfortunately I am out of ideas! I would like it to like the literacy hour in primary schools, but I have no idea how to go about this. I will have four hours with them a week.

    Any ideas would be very much appreciated!

  2. Hi,
    I taught a bottom set year 7 group last year, the majority of them were unable to read or write. I found that the foollowing format to a lesson worked well.
    STARTER- Spellings
    MAIN- comprehension, read pupils a passage then give them about 10 questions regarding the passage.
    DEVELOPMENT- Something to follow on from the passage they have read such as; write a diary entry for a character, continue the chapter on, write what happened before what they had read.
    PLENARY- As pupils to set themselves a target for next lesson ( this helps you to plan) or test them on spellings again, sometimes I would get them to make a checklist for what they hope to achieve in the next week and tick them off etc.
    There are some really good resources on primary TES so check them out too.
    Hope this helps
  3. Why on earth do you teach Year 7 in sets any how - an appalling idea?! Surely they should be doing similar units of work to other classes but at a much more basic level - no surer way to alienate them and make them give up than to make them feel totally out of synch with other groups.
    But (!) since it is happening, if they cannot read and write yet, them some phonics is a must - check out the dfes letters and sounds stuff which you can still find on "teachfind" and has resources to support it on tes - and find ways to link it in with elements of your department's usual schemes of work.
    hope that helps
  4. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    Really? When I have functionally illiterate Yr 7s at one end and level 7s at the other? How would that work? I've just been teaching Chaucer to my top set. I'm teaching decoding and context to the bottom set.
  5. I currently teach a Y7 class working at level 1/2 for 5 hours a week. We have one dedicated library lesson a week (Accelerated Reading Scheme) and the rest of the time I teach a mixture of basic skills and a differentiated SOW from the Y7 curriculum. In my basic skills lessons I have covered all aspects of literacy in depth with opportunities to practice the skills in written work. We have sets of class readers at an appropriate level (Barrington Stoke books are good) and I use KS2 resources much of the time. I use a lot of 'games' for starters, like Taboo or Rebus to help with their verbal skills and also lots of short You Tube clips as hooks.
    If you are not restricted by having to follow a standard SOW, then I have found Fresh Start Phonics or the SRA Corrective Reading Programme to be very effective in imporving reading but both these schemes need to be done every lesson for a number of months to complete the programme and my current school will not allow me to do that.
    Next year I will be teaching a small group of vulnerable Y7's working at L1 ( we have a huge increase in pupils with SLD each year) for 8 lessons a week for English and Humanities - should be interesting!

  6. Thanks for all of your ideas, much appreciated!

    I did ask for advice not opinions. However, I think this setting is a very good idea. The idea is to really support these pupils so they are able to make progress, without being left behind and therefore alienated! These classes will ensure they can make progress across the whole school without being disadvantaged by low literacy skills. I am not sure how it would be possible to teach Level 7s in a same class as Level 2s. I don't think differentiation would be workable and it would ultimately affect all pupils.
  7. Completely agree with you. As a teacher who regularly receives pupils from primary schools with very limited literacy skills, I think it's a great idea that they have the opportunity to learn/develop/consolidate these basic skills before being "released into the wild". Hopefully your department's approach to setting is flexible so that once these pupils (and all pupils, in fact) show improvement, they can move up into a more appropriate and challenging class.
    Mind you, I keep changing my mind about setting/mixed ability. In an ideal world, all pupils would have one-to-one sessions with a qualified teacher to develop their particular strengths and target their areas of weakness, as well as working collaboratively within a class.
    When I had a similar class to yours, I used a class reader to deliver a series of basic skills lessons. Each lesson would use one chapter and a follow up literacy activity. We'd work on a particular aspect (spelling, apostrophes, comprehension etc.). Quite often, I'd give them a paragraph from the chapter but with mistakes and they'd have to spot and correct them. Those who found this difficult (lots of them to begin with) could compare it with the correct verion in the book and see if they could recognise the differences. I used Danny, Champion of the World as they were all boys.
    Good luck :)
  8. We teach mixed ability throughout the school, and will often have new arrivals with no English, students who, as you put it are "functionally illiterate" and Level 7 students in the same room. Our results, with a challenging comprehensive intake, are outstanding. You do it through collaborative department planning, freeing up teachers to differentiate in the same way that primary teachers have too. Maybe our world is "ideal" in that students with literacy needs have extra literacy intervention in small groups to target their areas of weakness. Students need to have positive language models in order to improve - and many don't have that at home. If we keep them in a bottom set the whole time, they don't get them at school either.

    Anyway, as you say, you asked for advice, not opinions. Hope some of these suggestions work out for you!


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