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The quality of literacy interventions can vary greatly, from meticulously detailed to troublingly fallible, so it’s imperative that we approach them with caution and a critical eye.
We know that there are no magic wands, no quick-fixes, yet there are some interventions that simply do what they claim to and can really make a difference – especially if they’re well targeted and well delivered.
The Five Minute Literacy Box is an excellent example of something that’s been expertly designed to cover basic skills, and comes presented in a clear and easy to follow way.
The level of teacher experience and approach will obviously have some impact on what pupils are able to get out of it, but the Five Minute Box is specifically designed with high quality instruction in mind, while requiring minimal training ahead of use.
It comes with an instructional CD-ROM that includes some demonstrations of the Box in use and practical pointers for what to do. There’s more detailed in-school training available too, covering background theory, as well as practical understanding of the intervention.
Conceived as an ‘open and teach’ all-in-one kit, it’s well organised and contains a bundle of durable hands-on resources, including keyword cards and boards, a sounds board, 26 plastic letters, handwriting formation boards, a number formation board, whiteboard and pen, record of achievement booklets, an instruction guide and accompanying resource book with assessment sheets and keywords checklist.
The resource book is a slim, uncomplicated guide to using the Box that includes a step aside spelling programme, a spelling list, and individual record sheets for use with the keyword cards, as well as scripts for some supporting audiovisual material on the CD-ROM.
It all adds up to a programme that offers clearly focused intervention that’s intentionally systematic and intensive, based around activities designed for short bursts of around five minutes.
When subject teaching is structured in a cumulative and sequential way as it is here, you’ll soon start to see rapid progress. It’s therefore reassuring to see that small steps and milestones are an integral part of the Box.
Ideally, daily use is key to getting the most out of it, since the consistency, frequency and intensity it can help provide will all contribute to a child’s mastery of English skills.
Practice that’s distributed throughout the week is typically more effective than practice delivered in a single block.
While different interventions will, of course, be relevant to particular contexts and children’s specific needs, I’ve used the Five Minute Literacy Box in a range of schools with great results, and would confidently recommend it.
You’re looking for a ‘little and often’ flexible early intervention and screening tool that will sit handsomely alongside any phonic reading and spelling scheme.
The Five Minute Box is priced at £99.95 (+VAT and P&P). For more information call 01442 878 629 or head to fiveminutebox.co.uk.
Reviewed by John Dabell
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