Jules Daulby reflects on the Drive for Literacy programme and recommends some innovative literacy resources to help support your learners…

Recently, I was working in one of our partner schools, Portslade Aldridge Community Academy, on our flagship programme, Drive for Literacy, I was prompted to write this post, just in case you find yourself in the (unlikely given the current climate I know) position of having a few pennies left from your literacy/PPG/SEND budget to spend on additional resources.

What do your literacy boosters for struggling readers look like? Are the students beginning to learn (or remember) the phonic patterns from these charts?  Are they reading quickly and spelling the first two hundred high frequency words?

Perhaps it is going well but you think it would be nice to have a few themed activities at the end of her session which were engaging but also consolidating what you have taught.  Maybe a TA might be feeling a bit of their depth and want a bit more guidance (see Direct Phonics below) or are the irregular words are becoming problematic for some children? The learners appear to decode but those ‘tricky’ words are causing an issue and they can’t read them with automaticity.

Here are some great literacy resources which we recommend. For each resource, you will find a brief description of what it is, how it works and who it is good for.

1.     Taming Tricky Words (LINK)

What is it?

Taming Tricky Words is great and allows pupils to learn those high frequency words which are more irregular and cannot be decoded easily.   It gives them a self-esteem boost and in half a term a good bank of words allowing them to at least access some of the text-based curriculum if phonics, past learning initial letter sounds is proving a challenge.

How it works

You show student a picture – example traffic lights and then read the word in a sentence.

So ‘go’ is ‘When the lights are green the cars can go’. The student learns to read words by association.

2. Direct Phonics (LINK)

What is it?

This is a synthetic phonics programme which introduces a small amount of sight words with each book. It combines phonics instruction with oral language and ensures students have opportunity for speaking, listening, reading and writing. I particularly like this for older students who are still emerging readers because it is a cheap resource with a simple format to follow which can be changed to make it age appropriate.

How it works

Book 1introduces letter sounds and CVC words which are blended and segmented from the start. The following books (2 & 3) continue with consolidation activities and end with polysyllabic words. It’s simple to use and designed to be carried out in 20 minute sessions as part of a longer lesson.

This programme introduces linked reading and writing activities, although do bear in mind that it is very repetitive.

3. Swap cards (LINK)

What is it?

These handy phonic cards are a staple in my reading kit (I even have a couple of boxes in my handbag) and it is a fun game that is loved by learners of all ages.

How it works

Every phonic pattern possible is contained in SWAP cards; the rules of play are as follows:

Rules from the website:

A player tries to place a card of a matching suit on top of the card placed by the previous player – the objective simply being to play all of her cards. To ensure that learning is effective, the player must say the word as it is played or name the letter string when changing suit. The SWAP/FIX cards allow players to change the suit.

The games can be played with the cards in the hand or the players can lay the cards, face up and arranged in suits, on the table. The latter is the easiest way to introduce a new player while the experienced players enjoy the increased tactical opportunities.

5.Trugs (LINK)

What is it?

This is another phonic game similar to Swap cards.  It is based on decoding and blending for reading and can also be used for spelling. It has cards to play Guess it, Match it and Take it.

6. Minute a Day (LINK)

What is it?

This is a simple resource that is good for homework. These are phonic and sight word photocopiable sheets which encourage the student to read words or phonic patterns, the aim of which is to complete them in one minute – ideal for learners who find themselves overwhelmed by the amount of time it takes them to complete homework. They are also great to use in school for interventions sessions as a consolidation activity.

7. Stiles (LINK)

What is it?

This is a nice game where you match numbers and patterns. It’s called a self-checking tray where students’ answers match a number. If they are correct students will be able to match the geometric pattern. Books come with phonic patterns, maths, comprehension – all sorts. The patterns link to the pictures in the books.

8. Smart Shute (LINK)

What is it?

This is a card flipper which can be used to learn phonics, syllables, maths, categories, all sorts really.

How it works

You put a card in at the top and the answer flips to come out the bottom.  For example, ‘elephant’ is posted in the top and the answer ‘3’ lands in the tray.  The Smart Chute Phonics pack includes: initial, medial and final sounds, vowel phonemes, blend beginnings and endings, rimes and syllables.


Free Resources

If, however, you find yourself in the position of having no extra money to spend on additional reading material for emerging readers, don’t forget our literacy toolkit.

Don’t forget that there may well be a wealth of resources already in your school; you just might not know about them. Reading books and their supporting teacher guides and photocopy masters can have an alarming tendency to scurry away into other people’s cupboards, or sets get broken up, either by mistake or intentionally. Finding some time to review what you already have, bring collections together and ensure that teaching and support staff know about them is time well spent.

For more information on our flagship programme, Drive for Literacy, and how we can help your school create the time and space to improve literacy provision, please see https://driveryouth19.wpengine.com/dfl-model/ or contact us on 020 3897 0341 for further details.