Literacy Strategies

Developing literacy in Religious Education

Explicit literacy teaching can support the improvement of student learning outcomes in Religious Education. Just as in all curriculum areas, students can be taught to express themselves correctly and appropriately and to read accurately and with understanding. 


  • In writing, students can be taught to use correct spelling and punctuation and follow grammatical conventions. They should also be taught to organise their writing in logical and coherent forms.


  • In speaking, students can be taught to use language precisely and cogently.


  • Students can be taught to listen to others, and to respond and build on their ideas and views constructively.


  • One of the most important things we can so is to focus on reading comprehension, especially “ text to text, text to self and text to world” ( Keene and Zimmerman, 1997). This links quite well to the ‘Worlds of the Text’ used in Scripture study and can be used to invite students to explore another text in relationship to a text from Scripture. (
  • In reading, students can also be taught strategies to help them to locate and use information, to follow a process or argument and summarise, and to synthesise and adapt what they learn from their reading.
  • Students can be taught the technical and specialist vocabulary of subjects and how to use and spell these words. They can also be taught to use the patterns of language vital to understanding and expression in different subjects. These include the construction of sentences, paragraphs and texts that are often used in a subject [for example, language to express causality, chronology, logic, exploration, hypothesis, comparison, and how to ask questions and develop arguments].
    (Adapted from UK Department for Education and Skills, Key Stage 3 National Strategy | Literacy in religious education 


Literacy strategies

Reciprocal Teaching

“Reciprocal teaching is a package of strategies that increases a student’s ability to access and understand what they are reading, especially challenging text. It can also be used for small-group collaborative investigation. It involves four thinking strategies: clarifying, questioning, summarising, and predicting, as well as thinking about thinking strategies (metacognitive instruction).

The teacher explicitly coaches small groups of students in these four strategies while they are immersed in a cooperative group routine. This involves each student taking a turn at leadership of the group and in sharing responsibility for understanding the text they are reading together. Students may quickly become self-managing in this discussion group. However, reciprocal teaching is most effective if the teacher or tutor continues to scaffold the learning of the four strategies while managing repeated opportunities for deepening understanding and practice with increasingly challenging text or tasks.                

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Readers' Theatre

Reader’s Theatre provides a simple technique for turning a story including Scripture stories into scripts that can be dramatised by students. Students can also collaborate to write scripts. This technique combines reading and performing and allows students of varying reading and performing ability levels to participate in the same performance. There is no need for props, costumes or a set.
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Perspectives of characters

Looking at the perspectives of one or more characters in a Biblical story can help students to identify the reality of these peoples’ lives and the possible connections with our lives today. In the characters, students will be able to find feelings such as love, discouragement, stress, joy, anger, prejudice, peer pressure, wonder and questioning.
Students can write from the perspective of one or more characters from a Biblical story.
Click here for an example