Literacy Lift-Off St Colmcille’s NS


“Literacy Lift-Off”, also known as “Power-Hour” or “Guided Reading”, is an intensive programme of Reading and Writing, which gives the pupils lots of opportunities to read books at their own level of competency. It gradually lifts the complexity of what they can do in both reading and writing by equipping them with the necessary problem-solving skills. Pupils on the programme would typically be expected to progress at the rate of one level per week. The aim of Literacy Lift-Off is to make pupils constructive learners. It teaches them ‘how’ to problem-solve independently.


Literacy Lift-Off (An Outline)

What is LL-O?

LL-O is an intensive programme of reading and writing for a set number of weeks.


Children learn to read and write by reading and writing. This programme gives the children lots of opportunities to read books at their own level of competency and gradually lift the complexity of what they can do in both reading and writing.


  • Pre-test: a running record of each child’s reading ability to find an instructional reading level (90 to 95% accuracy: to establish an entry-level to graded reading programme PM+) 

  • Children organised into 4 or 5 groups according to their reading level attained.

  • 4 to 5 teachers assigned to different station of literacy lesson (familiar reading, new reading, phonics and writing)

  • One person takes charge of marking the change of activity using a timer (8 – 10 mins)

  • Teachers rotate through each station.



Familiar Reading:

Purpose: For enjoyment, fluency, comprehension and speed. Every child has an opportunity to read each day. Do not interrupt the reading. As they are reading note what is going well and one or two things you want to draw the group’s attention to e.g.

· A good self-correction.

· Or something that didn't sound right, look right or make sense.

· Or a visual analysis.


Word Work (Phonics):

Purpose: To show children how words work so that they can make a fast visual analysis of their reading.

  • Use magnetic letters to show children how words are composed of letters and sometimes bits that look the same and sound the same.

  • Elkonin boxes (initially cvc words, blends and initial consonant digraph)

  • Chunking words (segmentation: clapping out sounds etc., rhyming words) Base this on words that they know and are in the book being read.



Purpose: The children will learn how they can write their own messages by:

  • Hearing and recording sounds in words,

  • Using analogy

  • Learning unusual words (by look, cover, write, check).

  • Creative writing from visual cues and pictures

Children have unlined A4 copies with practice and a writing page for each day. Children write with markers. They are encouraged to ‘have a go’ at spelling new words on practice page and then check with the teacher. On the practice page, they can try out words and every day they must learn one or two new words or practice one or two words that they nearly know. They compose a story and have a go at writing it. The teacher models the activity when necessary.



New Book:

Purpose: To allow daily practice in attempting to read new material. The child learns to use strategic activities to read new texts. The teacher prepares the children for success by initiating discussion of the pictures and introducing them to any new vocabulary or unusual phrases in the book. The children are provided with opportunities to predict the plot and to connect and refer to personal experiences. As the children are reading the new text the teacher directs them to the most effective strategy to use at any given time.

That might be:

  • A prompt to meaning e.g. Where are the children going?

  • A prompt from picture cues (look at the picture and question)

  • A prompt to visual information e.g. Cover the 'ing' or 'can you see a bit you know.

  • A prompt to structure e.g. Predict how the phrase might end.

  • A prompt to read with expression (teacher models reading)

If the child is to read for meaning he/she needs to read in a phrased and fluent manner and this should be encouraged at all times. The child needs to be encouraged to monitor his/her own reading and writing. The children should know that when it doesn't sound right, look right or make sense they need to re-read and correct it.

The children take home this book to read with their parents each night and it becomes the ‘familiar reading’ book for the following day.