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Book Review

Book review: David Didau, 2014. The Secret of Literacy: Making the Implicit, Explicit. Edition. Independent Thinking Press

Literacy? That’s someone else’s job, isn’t it?

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David Didau’s The Secret of Literacy, Making the implicit explicit is an essential and inspiring book for all teachers. It is an easy book to access with practical examples and ideas to improve the level of literacy within all lessons and subject areas. This book really makes you think and question.

Didau explores ……

  • Why is literacy important?
  • Oracy – improving classroom talk.
  • How should we teach reading?
  • How to set students to value writing?
  • How written feedback and marking can support literacy.

The topic and chapter that is of most importance to music currently is Chapter 4 – Oracy.

The way that our students answer questions verbally is an area that we have all identified as a weakness and one that we must urgently address. Didau’s clarify, probe, recommend, his method for modelling verbal answers, his ban on the answer ‘I don’t know’ and his pose, pause, pounce, bounce  technique has already had a very positive impact upon the teaching and learning within the Music Department.

This chapter really makes you think, question and improve your practice resulting in effective, productive class discussions and answers from students of a higher level in terms of literacy. Didau encourages a shift from pupils feeding back what they have just said in a discussion to what they have heard.

He also explores questioning as differentiation and the use of thought stems to improve verbal answers. Didau encourages us all to improve teacher talk and that Direct Instruction is a very effective method to teach.

Reading this book is a must!

Also worth checking out his blog – The Learning Spy.

By Ann Dudding

We were lucky enough to have David visit us and deliver an INSET in November.  The thought provoking work that he started with us has continued and has been a very important part of improving the quality of teaching & learning. Highly recommended for INSET training sessions! (@purplepedagogy)

More info about the book from Amazon:

More About the Author

David Didau

Biography

After 15 years as a teacher, in which he led 2 English departments and was an Assistant Head, David is now a freelance trainer, education consultant, conference speaker, provocateur and writer. His award-winning blog, The Learning Spy, is (apparently) one of most influential education blogs in the world and he is also the author of the best-selling, The Perfect English Lesson and The Secret of Literacy.

His training has been described variously as being “like bottled lightning”, “throwing a grenade into a still pond” and “quite good”.


Review
David Didau`s book is everything a book about the work of teaching should be: clear-eyed, lively, wise, and funny. Written by a front-line practitioner of the craft. –Doug Lemov, Managing Director, Teach Like a Champion Team

The Secret of Literacy is an essential book for all teachers and school leaders. It is not just another literacy book. David Didau provides a crystal clear rationale for all teachers taking responsibility for developing literacy in their specialist areas, with lots of very practical ideas, drawing on a range of sources from blogs and the latest literature on the issue. Anyone familiar with David`s own superb Learning Spy blog will immediately recognise some of his most powerful ideas and his inimitable style: it is witty and accessible, grounded in the reality of everyday classrooms, but also conveys a sense of urgency. This is a serious business and, as David highlights, too much of what we do in the name of literacy, isn`t literacy at all. The book is challenging us to do better and shows us how. ‘Making the implicit explicit’ captures the key message, but Secrets of Literacy is more than a set of tools; it is a call to arms! –Tom Sherrington, Head Teacher, King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford

As an avid reader of David`s brilliant blog I was really excited to read his new book. I wasn`t to be disappointed! In his inimitable style, David manages to enliven and illuminate literacy, making what is a potentially tricky topic accessible and downright intriguing. He distills a shed-full of research and combines this with practical pedagogy. David puts the compelling argument that literacy is not a bolt-on job for English teachers, but it is rather a fundamental aspect of great teaching in every lesson for all teachers. He dispels some enduring myths and establishes a clear, usable method. –Alex Quigley, Subject leader of English and Assistant head teacher at Huntington School, York.

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