Examples of the Horizons Program Literacy strategies

Horizons is a unique partnership between some of the best experiential learning organizations in Bermuda.  It is designed to accompany and enhance the curriculum and improve reading comprehension outcomes.  The program uses a range of thematic teaching techniques and draws on Content Literacy Instruction which is a method for covering vocabulary, grammar and other language concepts while teaching science and history themes.

Rich themes have been chosen which tie in with classroom writing tasks and can be brought to life through an expedition with our partners or through an online “virtual” tour of their locations.

Horizons Themed Units

P2Biology Caring for the environment and HabitatsChemistry What dissolves? Heating & CoolingThe World and Bermuda African ArtThe World and Bermuda Architecture
P3Biology What plants need to grow + Parts of a plantPhysics ForcesThe World and Bermuda – Portugal, Ghana, England, PhilippinesEarly economic activities – farming and fishing
P4Biology HabitatsPhysics SoundCardinal Directions Navigation + mapsEarly Settlors from the Plough
P5Biology PollinationPhysics Light and ShadowsThe Gunpowder PlotSlavery and Emancipation

Cross Curricular techniques for boosting concept awareness and language

  1. Discuss world geography, different cultures and historical events.  This helps to “broaden horizons” and give students more background knowledge to draw on when they are reading. 
  2. Use read alouds so that students can pick up concepts and add to their vocabulary breadth and depth.  A good way to extend the learning is by including an oral cloze where you read a passage and stop before a key word.  This method is common in lower primary in interactive read alouds, but can also be effective during social studies and science lessons when you are reading a passage from coursework.
  3. Teach vocabulary that provides an opportunity for demonstrating a language usage concept such as synonyms, morphology or suffixes and prefixes.  One of our P5 Horizons themes is light.  We look at how a suffix changes a verb to a noun.  Starting with the word bioluminescence, students find the “root” lumen and illuminate.  Then looked at how the suffix -tion can turn it into illumination and brainstorm other examples –  reflect and reflection, absorb and absorption
  4. Concept mapping (otherwise known as a knowledge map or mind map) is a graphical tool that can be used for organising any kind of thinking and learning. As a language enhancement strategy, concept maps are an excellent way to make connections among related vocabulary. The practice of concept mapping can facilitate domain knowledge acquisition. Teachers can create a concept map together with students and feature the map on a classroom wall – the map can be added to as students learn new vocabulary throughout the unit. Including pictures and matching these to the words is also effective and engaging. 
  5. Try quick vocabulary activities as warm ups and fillers during lessons.  Here are some of our favourites:

    Where might we find? (Using the P4 Habitats topic as an example) You say: Where might we find a Ghost crab? And the students answer “on the beach” but you then repeat “We might find a ghost crab on the beach”
    Where might we find red mangrove?  (We might find red mangrove in a salt marsh)

    New comparisons for reinforcing similes. 
    Write up on the board a few common similes and have the students read them with you
    As proud as a peacock
    As good as gold
    As mad as a hatter
    Next suggest a few adjectives and ask them to invent their own comparisons.

    My neighbour’s cat reinforces phonics at the same time as adjectives.
    You draw on the board “This is my neighbour’s cat.”
    My neighbour’s cat is an awful cat.
    Tell the students they can offer ideas in any order they like and as the ideas are suggested write in the adjectives next to the appropriate letters. 
    My neighbour’s cat is a wonderful cat, etc.

    Piling up a sentence.
    Start by telling the students something you like for example, I like pizza. Then ask the student to recall what you like and add a like of their own.   [ Name ] what do you like?
    It’s a good one for the bus on the way back from a field trip.  We have a whole list of word games for the bus which is a great way of reinforcing new vocabulary and building on the concept mapping skills.