Last modified on 18 February 2015, at 18:46


This professional development resource for teachers provides examples of practical ideas and techniques to promote interactive teaching across the Literacy and Languages curriculum. I could also be used in conjunction with the OER4Schools resource, for teachers in sub-Saharan Africa. As stated in the 2003 Zambia Basic Education Literacy and Language Syllabus:

Listening and Speaking skills are very important. Learning to listen accurately and respond to the spoken word increases the pupil’s confidence, builds up their receptive skills and allows them to be exposed to different forms of language. This is the reason why listening and speaking skills are the basis of all language work.

The strategies and ideas outlined are all designed to promote listening and speaking and active learning, which are key features of interactive teaching. In addition to supporting the general outcomes for Listening and Speaking in the Syllabus, these activities and techniques also help to promote pupil engagement with, and achievement in, Reading for Comprehension and Writing through multimodal and multisensory interactions and expression. They encourage pupils to explore, discuss and build on their own and others’ ideas, enabling them to create joint knowledge products and take responsibility for their own learning.

This collection of ideas is designed to provide ideas for lesson starters, including ‘warm ups’ and games and lesson introductions to be used in whole class teaching and discussions. However, these practical ideas can also be used in small group work during a lesson, or at the end of a lesson (plenary) to consolidate learning and provide opportunities for assessment of pupils’ understanding. Some examples are provided to demonstrate how the activities can be extended to a whole lesson.

A suggested teaching sequence for Literacy and Language lessons is this lesson plan:

Lesson Plan

Objective: Date:

1. Lesson starter/warm up (whole class)


2. Lesson introduction (whole class)


3. Main activity (group & independent work)


4. Plenary (whole class)


Following an interactive lesson, it is helpful to display examples of the children’s working ideas and completed work. The process and thinking that has occurred during the lesson is important. Displays can be annotated with questions and pupils’ thoughts about what they have been working on and achieved.

The activities outlined are not intended to be used as prescriptive lesson plans, but can be modified and adapted to meet lesson objectives as appropriate.

1 Resources required

Most of the activities suggested require only blackboard and chalk for the teacher and paper and pencils/pens for pupils, although sets of mini blackboards for pupils are desirable in order for them to be able to display their thinking following talk. Wherever possible, images and objects can also be used to stimulate talk and thinking. Books and texts are also valuable resources as stimuli for active learning.

2 Overview

Section 1. Warm ups, games, and introductions

Section 2: Talk for writing

  • What is ‘Talk for Writing’?
  • Book talk
  • Writer talk
  • Story telling and making
  • Word and language games
  • Role play and drama

Section 3: Group work

  • Talk partners and thought-showering
  • Think-pair-share
  • Snowballing
  • Information gap
  • Statements game
  • Rainbowing
  • Jigsaw
  • Envoys
  • Group work and drama

3 Further reading and acknowledgements

The Interactive teaching in literacy and language resource on http:// was developed by adapting the National Strategies document Talk for Writing.pdf (info), available from [1] under OGL [2]. The Talk for Writing approach was originally created and developed by Pie Corbett; further information about the approach, along with free resources and training info can be found at the website