World Cup Literacy Club: Session One as I see it.

It’s fair-and accurate- to say that many of the ideas I post on here aren’t necessarily suitable for your average English class of 33 students of whom some are male and some are female. Sorry but it’s the truth.

So, I’ve decided I’m going to run a World Cup Literacy Club during the 6 weeks prior, during and after the World Cup in Brazil this June. (15 days to go.) This club, I decided, was to be by invite only and will be aimed at improving the reading attitudes of a number of that most obstreperous of creatures: Boys. In fact, I thought, why not really let yourself in for something? Year 9 boys.

And so, with nothing but a rabid desire to impress, I ventured onto the Year 9 playground last week and found the boys I was looking for. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the boys and the type of students they are, or are perceived to be, for obvious reasons but let’s just say that each of the boys I spoke to wanted to come to my club so they can, and I quote, “show everyone what they can do when they have a go.” As if that wasn’t enough to put a mile-wide grin on my face, the boys asked that the club be held on a Monday, “so they have something to look forward to.” 

So, here’s what’s going to happen, as I see it, on Monday 9th June, 3 days before the World Cup kicks off.


Welcome the boys in, ask them to sign the team sheet and get them to fill out a quick survey on attitudes towards reading. I’ll use this later to see if I’ve had any positive impact on the boys’ approach to reading; 6 weeks is, in my opinion, to short a time frame to measure a change in attainment but an improvement in attitudes towards reading would have huge implications: all research suggests improved attitudes to reading result in improved attainment in reading and writing over time. 


Paper Talk. I’m going to give each of the boys (there’s ten of them by the way) a present: a copy of The Sun newspaper minus the third page.

(Just a thought – could I say at this point: “Any of you boys Liverpool supporters?” as I hold the copies of The Sun hesitantly in my hands. “No? Okay just thought I’d check because of the whole Hillsborough thing…” This could then lead onto a discussion of the tragedy and an exploration of the poem, The Ballad of Hillsborough at a later date…Just a thought.)

Anyways, I’m going to give each of the boys a copy of the paper and ask them to read any article(s) they so wish from the Sports section so long as it is football related. What I will also ask them to do is to highlight anything that is a ‘Nailed It’ or a ‘Head’s Gone.’

Nailed It: an opinion from a journalist or the actions of an individual player/manager/agent that the student thinks is absolutely brilliant. For example, a journalist writes that Mauricio Pocchetino needs to work on improving Roberto Soldado’s goal tally – Nailed It!


Head’s Gone: an opinion from a journalist or the actions of an individual player/manager/agent that the student thinks is absolutely barmy. For example, the student reads that Yaya Toure is threatening to leave Manchester City because the club officials didn’t buy him a birthday cake – Head’s Gone!



After a discussion of the Paper Talk I’m then going to show students a number of phrases: 

It’s lashing with rain and thunderstorms are rumbling in the distance.


Hacked down


Dangerous Position


  Stirring counterattack


Charged upfield


Ferocious counterattack


Slicing them open


Tearing them apart with every attack


…trudge forward in the rain…


I’ll ask the boys what they make of the phrases and hopefully we’ll get onto the fact that the phrases use imagery you’d commonly associate with war. I’ll then explain to the boys that phrases come from Sean Ingle’s report of the Spain vs Russia World Cup Qualifier from the Guardian website. I’ll ask the boys why they think football journalists would choose to use such imagery and maybe we’ll do a bit on metaphors and similes.

And that’s it.


Wordy Uppies: A Literacy Activity

Feel like sticking it to the health and safety brigade this week? Then try this…

Grab a football. Then, in a classroom with very high ceilings and minimal windows, or in a playground, do as many ‘keepy uppies’ as you can do. How many did you manage? Five? If so, then the pupil you’re challenging has to come up with at least five words that rhyme. Or five adverbs. Or five figurative techniques. Whatever – it’s up to you!

The great thing about this is, if you’re relatively skilled at keepy uppies then you can differentiate accordingly by ‘accidently’ messing up. If you’re not skilled at keepy uppies then find a teacher or a pupil who is or, even better, get practising! It’s good for you and them!

I need to try this. So do you. Let me know how it goes.


World Cup Wall Display – Love Football: Love Reading.

This photo shows a World Cup Wall Display that I knocked up in just 40 minutes at school today:



Eight different English Teachers, upon seeing my finished display, declared it to resemble: a sheep-cow, a pyramid head (don’t know either) or ‘perspectively flawed.’ Charming.

Needless to say I was very pleased to see, upon my return to my classroom at the end of a busy Friday, that two of my colleagues had taken it upon themselves to do me a goal that doesn’t look like a grazing animal. With real netting! Here it is:


My decision to create a World Cup wall display was fully inspired by the amazing World Cup Toolkit released this week by the National Literacy Trust. The link to this wonderful-and free- resource, aimed at encouraging children to read using football, or more specifically, the world cup as a ‘way in’ (sound familiar?), can be found by clicking on the link below. My only regret is that I didn’t think of any of the amazing ideas within it, myself!

Right, so here’s how my World Cup display is going to work:

The Goal Posts: Pupils will be encouraged to give me mini reviews, which they will write onto paper footballs, about a book (doesn’t have to be football related) that they have read. If it’s a good book their ‘review football’ goes in the goal; if it’s a book which inspires neither love nor hate then their ‘review football’ is whacked on the cross bar; finally, if the book is the literary equivalent to Jordan’s love life then that ‘review football’ is flyin’ wide. Well wide. 

World Cup Reading Selfies: In the middle of my display, i’ll be encouraging pupils to read newspaper articles, web articles, comics, books or magazines relating to this year’s World Cup and taking a photo of themselves doing so. They do this, their selfie goes on the wall.

Football Metaphors, Cliches and Similes: On the far right of my board I will be encouraging students (this is where KS4 comes in) to find footballing Metaphors, Cliches or Similes in magazine or newspaper match reports. Students that find the best, get their name and the (offending) metaphor, cliche or simile on the wall. Also, students will also be encouraged to listen out for interesting metaphors or similes during match commentary. Again, the ones I like will go on the wall.

Hope you’re inspired. If you’re not, here’s the link again. Try it