Thursday, 3 July 2008


… am feeling rather chuffed. A case study I wrote a long time ago, about a lovely group of learners, has just appeared on the Vital Link site (part of the National Literacy Trust).

I describe how I used one of the wonderful New Leaf Books ‘The Sandals’ (well, actually a set of 6 identical books and the accompanying audio CD) with a group of Entry Level, 16-19 year olds. If you’re not familiar with New Leaf Publishing then do visit their swishy new site where you can order books and related resources online – from only £4 per title – and listen to audio clips (including part of the one mentioned in the case study). They have recently published beautiful new editions of many titles previously published by The Gatehouse Publishing Charity (including old favourites such as The Cardigan and The Bin Men – and my all time choice, The Kit Kat).

I remember these titles fondly from those pre-Moser days back in the late 90s when I was a volunteer basic skills tutor. A lot has changed since then but decent books for adult beginners are just as important now as then, despite sparse references to fiction within the literacy curriculum...

Although the ‘Sandals session’ took place well over a year ago I still remember parts of it vividly – because the book was such a surprising hit with the group. The ‘facing pairs of pages’ plan worked well as there are 6 double page spreads in the book and I think I had 8 students (two pairs, and the other four worked individually). The pictures were a great hit. Some learners spent a lot of time analysing the exact time on the clock in the background of one picture (page 9 of the book if you’re lucky enough to have a copy). As mentioned in the case study the audio CD worked a treat too – I played it after the paired reading session. I also recall that there were some interesting misunderstandings in comprehension. Most students thought the writer’s sister had asked the stall holder for a boxed set in a different size – not because she wanted a clean non-display pair. Interesting! Some were also convinced she bought the shoes on the day of the wedding and couldn’t understand how the stall holder had got to Spain so quickly.

The case study can be found in one of a series of nine downloadable (PDF) booklets entitled ‘Reading for Pleasure: ideas to inspire’. The booklet in question (see pages 7-9) is for ‘New Readers’ (Entry 1-2) but the series is full of ideas for all levels and types of readers. For example, at the other end of the spectrum, the booklet for HE students has ideas on ‘Using fiction to help students’ dissertations’ and ‘Helping a student with dyslexia read for pleasure’. The other seven titles cover ESOL, dads and male carers, FE, prisons, etc.

1 comment:

Amanda Burgess said...

Well done Maggie! You have inspired me to order the book and audio and use it next term with my literacy and ESOL students. Off to Amazon to see if they have a better price!