Catapult: re-engaging, inspiring and motivating your students

Catapult: support for students below age-related expectations

For almost 6 months students have lived a range of experiences, positive and negative, during the lockdown period. English is not a linear subject and is taught by building upon what is already understood, by securing and reinforcing key skills and concepts in a range of contexts and through a variety of texts, says Katie Lowe, Oxford English publisher.

Differing lockdown experiences mean that students will re-enter schools at different points in their learning and with varying levels of confidence. Some will undoubtedly have made progress and gains; others will have forgotten fundamental concepts teachers thought were secure. Many could have developed new errors and misconceptions that will need addressing; some will have lost confidence in their own ideas, opinions, and their ability to express these. And some will need careful support and guidance to build up their confidence and their appetite for learning.

The Catapult approach to learning supports students as they re-start their school-based learning journey. With a clear focus on building confidence, securing skills and knowledge, and motivating learners, Catapult offers a real solution to re-engaging students with their English studies.

1 Give your students a challenge they can rise to!

Catapult provides students with ways to access more demanding and fulfilling reading by including tasks which tackle difficulties head on. The texts that have been selected have been chosen because they are engaging, they are right length and complexity, and they are examples of writing of the highest quality – so you’ll find Dickens and other classic texts alongside contemporary writers such as Maggie O’Farrell and Patrick Ness. The tasks that accompany the texts have been designed to focus on overcoming barriers to student comprehension. And Catapult is upfront about the challenge and aspiration involved: if you’re not a strong reader, then a Dickens sentence might not make much sense. Catapult takes these trickier sentences and shows students how to make sense of them.

2 Rebuild student confidence and learning habits

Every unit of Catapult has been carefully planned to follow the same structure. Texts are followed by Word Power and Knowledge and Understanding activities. Students can then explore the text further with either a Reading or Writing skills task, before checking their understanding at the end of the unit. This repeating structure means that students know what to expect, and what each activity type is asking them to do, building familiarity and confidence.

3 Close the Word Gap

A recent survey of primary and secondary teachers carried out by Oxford University Press (June 2020) found 92% of teachers think school closures and remote learning at home will contribute to a widening of the ‘word gap’, and 73% of teachers said that the impact on their students’ vocabulary development will be significant. Catapult can support students in boosting their vocabulary through Word Power activities in every unit, based on words taken from the source texts. These activities encourage students to explore the meanings of less familiar words and to practise using these words in their own writing. Further Word Power practice in Kerboodle and the Workbooks means that students have additional opportunities to broaden their vocabulary.

4 Secure key skills and knowledge

Catapult units build on each other in terms of text complexity and length, vocabulary, and skills. The ‘Try, Apply, Consolidate’ structure embeds knowledge and skills across the Student Books, Kerboodle, and Workbooks.

Every chapter includes clear links between reading and writing. Students are encouraged to try out their new vocabulary and, using the texts as models, to explore new writing techniques. Short exercises build until the student is ready to use their newly-learnt techniques and vocabulary in a more sustained piece.

The interactive quizzes on Kerboodle enable you to check students’ knowledge of spelling, punctuation and grammar concepts. And for any gaps that are identified, there is a large bank of skills-based resources and further quizzes that can be assigned as additional practice.

5 Enable remote learning and digital teaching

The Catapult student books, workbooks, and digital books and resources (via Kerboodle) give students a coherent and supportive learning experience. The digital books mean you and your students can use the resources in school or at home, and audio recordings of every source text enable less-confident readers to access texts and get the most out of their learning. Workbooks allow you to check students’ understanding of the unit either in class or for homework, while the support provided in the Teacher Books and on Kerboodle ensures that you can feel confident delivering lessons that will have a real impact.

Overall, Catapult encourages students to feel proud of their expanding knowledge, skills and vocabulary; to tackle more sophisticated reading and writing tasks with confidence; and to enjoy their learning.

Explore Catapult further and find out about Kerboodle trials available here.

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