Text Based Literacy Approach


By Jo Gray
on 17 July, 2016

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A text-based approach to literacy

Text-based literacy is a very effective and popular way of teaching the English curriculum. Using a high quality text, teachers can support children to develop speaking and listening skills, reading and writing in a fun, engaging and motivating way.

A text-based approach is simple to implement and adaptable across the whole school. Each year group can select their own key texts upon which their literacy lessons will be focused. I would suggest one key text per half term. The main text chosen can be reinforced with additional texts, which do not necessarily have to be books. Although children need to be taught skills around many different genre types, my advice is to move away from focusing on a specific genre as the National Literacy strategy outlines. Instead, teachers should use their own knowledge of the curriculum and their current cohort.

Genre and objective coverage should be monitored across the school and tracked by having a progression plan of genres and key year group objectives.

The initial reading and analysis of texts should provide the building blocks for writing. The process of a text-based approach should follow a model which allows schools to adapt and alter to suit their teachers’ individual needs, yet develop a consistency throughout the school. One example of a text-based model is One Education’s Predict, Interrogate, Capture, Create (PICC):


(1-2 lessons)

Before introducing the text, encourage children to be excited about what they are going to read. This stage helps children to develop their ability to predict and develop their questioning skills. The prediction shouldn’t just rely on the main book, a wow factor should be thought of that will really hook the children into what they are about to discover. Using open-ended questions, props and other stimuli will help children to develop the ability to create links between books and their experiences. The new ‘text’ doesn’t have to be a book, instead it could be a wordless picture book, song lyrics, poetry, a play script, a music video, an advert or a short animation.


(2-5 lessons)

During this stage, children are introduced to the text for the first time. Re-telling, sequencing, acting out, and focusing on specific parts of the text or pictures would form part of their familiarisation with the text. After reading it, time is spent analysing the text in order to develop the children’s analytical, inference and deduction skills. During the interrogation stage, children also look at GaPS through the text. Schools should be creative in their approach, yet the learning intention should be the starting point for any teaching within this model.


(2-4 lessons)

Using the text to capture ideas will help children to become more confident in writing. This stage incorporates looking at the book as a writer. There may be a focus on setting, characters or plot using the book as a guide. Children may capture words and phrases that appeal to them and which they may want to use within their work. This stage also lends itself to extending themes and ideas further by looking at drama, images, other books, film or other media that relate to the main text. Towards the end of ‘capture’ children will move towards their own ideas based on the text for inspiration.


(3+ lessons)

Create is when children use all of their ideas from the unit to produce a piece of writing (or film, podcast, comic, etc). Modelled, shared, guided and individual writing processes are important at this stage; verbalising the internal dialogue whilst writing will help children to understand the process. This process shouldn’t be rushed, writing small parts of a text in a lesson and building up to create an extended piece of writing is a useful way to spend time. Edit, review and redraft are also crucial elements to the ‘create’ stage. There must be a purpose for the writing in order to make it worthwhile for the children to complete.

Discussion should be embedded throughout each stage of the process to ensure that children have plenty of opportunity to discuss, debate and orally rehearse. Teachers should provide children with the chance to work cooperatively throughout lessons in pairs and small groups in order to reinforce what they learn whilst developing emotional literacy skills such as self-confidence and social skills.


Linked below is a downloadable plan, which can be adapted for your school. This plan should be used as a medium term overview for each unit planned. More detail for lessons will be needed, however, the format attached will help you to capture ideas and ensure all aspects of a text-based approach are considered when planning.

Download the plan here

Knowledge of the texts being used is crucial for the adults delivering the teaching and learning. Links to other texts and experiences should be planned before beginning the unit to ensure that links are strong and beneficial to the learning intentions. Texts that can be used for text-based literacy can be endless however I have shared an overview of key text suggestions across year groups.

View the overview here

The texts outlined in the overview are just suggestions. Each school is unique and every cohort within each school is different. Choosing texts that engage children in their lessons is the most vital part within the text-based approach; it ensures that the children have fun, and remain engaged and motivated whilst learning.

In celebration of Roald Dahl's 100th birthday, see this completed PICC plan for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

One Education can help you in developing your whole school literacy approach through joint planning, observation and modelling of teaching, audits, literacy lead development, staff meetings and INSET days. For more information please email Jo Gray or call on 0844 967 1111.

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