Active Banking

Accelerated Vocabulary Enhancement

Bishop Challoner Catholic College, in Birmingham, will investigate whether it is possible to accelerate rates of vocabulary development by training pupils in an active reading strategy called “Active Banking”.

The challenge

Pupil independent reading habits are declining just as changes to GCSE assessment have restored literacy rigour to English and humanities subjects with a premium on extended writing and inferential reading. Secondary schools need to teach pupils active reading strategies that enable them to derive the largest vocabulary gains possible from the kind of non-fiction reading they are actually doing in school and ever more frequently, online in their own time.

The innovation

Pupils will be trained in an active reading strategy called “Active Banking”. In any given text across the curriculum they actively identify adjectives (and verbs). They reflect on and classify the adjectives using a “Goldilocks” formula.

1 –  Too easy (known it since primary school)

3 –  Too difficult (I couldn’t transfer that word for use in another context)

2 –  Just right (I could confidently use it in another context)

Pupils will be trained to hone in and store two adjectives from the ‘Just right’ category in their Word Banks. They are challenged to use them in randomly generated spoken and written contexts with the maxim: “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. Pupils gain recognition and rewards by placing an * next to ‘Just right’ words in written work in English, humanities and literacy based subjects (history, geography, religious studies and citizenship) which represent 45% of curriculum time.