As you are aware, literacy is a priority here at St Christopher's as we believe it plays a key role in the pupils' ability to function in society in the future as private individuals, active citizens, employees and/or parents. We believe it influences their self-esteem, their interaction with others and their employability.

St Christopher's LiteracyWe would ask for your support for the continued development of literacy at St Christopher's. We propose to have a box in each Form Room containing reading material that would appeal to our pupils and wondered if you had any books that you would be prepared to donate for this purpose. We would also value a regular supply of magazines, perhaps ones with which your child has finished.

If you would like to view literacy policy, please click here

Interactive Crossword Tool

Nothing tests your knowledge like a crossword puzzle. But did you know the format of a crossword puzzle can be an effective teaching tool, too? Using this tool, children and teens can solve ready-made puzzles designed around grade-appropriate topics. Solving a crossword puzzle can teach new words, the meanings of those words, and how to spell them. They also can jump into the driver's seat and create their own puzzles. Choosing their own topics and mapping out their own puzzles develops big-picture thinking. To create a puzzle from scratch, children and teens must demonstrate a deeper knowledge of the topic and the words that will serve as the puzzle's answers. Coming up with clues sharpens communication skills. It's an art to write a clue that gives just a hint, but enough for someone to say, "Aha! I know the answer to 1 down!"

Here's What To Do

Children and teens begin by entering their name and selecting a grade or age range. To solve a ready-made puzzle, they choose a topic from the drop-down menu and click Play. They then type the answers to the clues directly onto the puzzle squares. The Check Puzzle function highlights the correct answers in green and shades incorrect answers in red. For hints, children and teens can click Tips & Hints in the bottom left corner to find more information about the topic and oftentimes links to other websites.

To create a puzzle, children and teens select the Create Your Own tab. After titling the puzzle, they begin entering their puzzle words - as few as 3 and as many as 30. Next, they are asked to provide clues for each word. From there, the finished puzzle may be solved online or printed. 

Cube Creator

Summarizing information is an important post-reading and prewriting activity that helps pupils synthesize what they have learned. The interactive Cube Creator offers four options:

Bio Cube: This option allows pupils to develop an outline of a person whose biography or autobiography they have just read; it can also be used before pupils write their own autobiography. Specific prompts ask pupils to describe a person's significance, background, and personality.

Mystery Cube: Use this option to help pupils sort out the clues in their favourite mysteries or develop outlines for their own stories. Among its multiple applications, the Mystery Cube helps pupils identify mystery elements, practice using vocabulary from this popular genre, and sort and summarize information. Specific prompts ask pupils to describe the setting, clues, crime or mystery, victim, detective, and solution.

Story Cube: In this cube option, pupils can summarize the key elements in a story, including character, setting, conflict, resolution, and theme. Pupils can even identify their favourite part of the story. This can be used as an alternative to the Story Map interactive.

Create-Your-Own Cube: Working on a science unit? Doing some research on volcanoes? The Create-Your-Own Cube is your answer. This version allows teachers and pupils to generate their own questions or topics. Teachers can type in the questions, lock them from editing using the padlock icon, and save the file using the Save tab at the top of the screen. The saved file can then be shared with pupils to enter in their responses. Pupils can also customize cubes on topics of their choosing.

Pupils can save their draft cubes to revise later. See the 5-minute video tutorial Saving Work With the Student Interactives for more information on have to save, e-mail, and open a file in any of the ReadWriteThink Student Interactives. The finished cube can also be saved, printed, and folded into a fun cube shape that can be used for future reference.

For ideas of how to use this tool outside the classroom, see Bio-Cube and Mystery Cube in the Parent & Afterschool Resources section.

Developing pupils' higher level thinking skills

Why Use This Tip?

A main goal of educators today is to teach students the skills they need to be critical thinkers. Instead of simply memorizing facts and ideas, children need to engage in higher levels of thinking to reach their fullest potential. Practicing Higher Order Thinking (HOT) skills outside of school will give pupils the tools that they need to understand, infer, connect, categorize, synthesize, evaluate, and apply the information they know to find solutions to new and existing problems. Consider the following example to distinguish between memorization of facts and actually engaging in thoughtful ideas:

After reading a book about Martin Luther King or studying the Civil Rights era, you could choose to ask a child a simple question such as "Who is Martin Luther King, Jr?". When answering this question, the child can simply provide facts that s/he has memorized. Instead, to promote critical thinking skills, you might ask them "Why do you think that people view Martin Luther King, Jr. as a hero of the civil rights era?" to elicit a more well-thought-out response that requires them to apply, connect, and synthesize the information they previously learned.

What To Do

Families and out-of-school educators can play a significant role in encouraging higher order thinking with their children, even when having a casual conversation. Asking open-ended questions that don't have one "right" answer, gives children the confidence to respond in creative ways without being afraid of being "wrong." After reading a book together, a parent might ask their child a question such as, "If you were that character, how would you have persuaded Timothy to turn himself in?" This would be instead of asking something like, "What was the main character's name in the book?"

Below are more examples of questions to ask your child to spark discussion, make them think critically, and encourage higher order thinking.

When reading a book:
"What do you think might happen next?"
"Does this remind you of anything from your life?"
"Can you tell me about what you read today?"
"Why did he/she act that way?"

When visiting an unfamiliar place:
"How is __________ similar to/different from __________?"
"Can you explain/show me that in another way?"

When making an important decision:
"How would you rank __________?"
"How do you imagine __________ would look?"
"What do you think a solution might be?"
"Why did you decide to choose __________ over __________?"

Try asking your children these questions at home and in a variety of educational and non-educational settings. Rather than just having a conversation, you can also ask your child to respond to these questions in writing. Be prepared to respond to your child's answers with even more thought-provoking questions to continue to encourage higher levels of thinking, also opening up the lines of communication between parent and child!