24 July 2020

Primary OUP Ready 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 6A, 6B

In 2015, I was lucky enough to be asked to work on a new primary school series, Ready, for Oxford University Press (OUP), China. Before then, I hadn't done much work with primary ELT material. I'd written quite a few comprehension and writing lessons, as well as story/teaching guides, for the Oxford Reading Tree series, which is an excellent series of readers. I guess the team I had worked with at OUP liked my work well enough that they felt I was ready to take on half of their primary course. I greatly appreciated their confidence in me.

Part of my job, like most ELT textbook writers, was to bring the Scope & Sequence (S&S) to life. For the S&S, think 'Contents' page, as that's roughly what it is—a spreadsheet with unit flows showing topics, vocabulary items in a possible context, reading strategies, suggestions for reading passages, types of comprehension to focus on, grammar items to cover, and task outcomes to set up.

My usual practice when I design material is to make sure the S&S for a book, say six units, 'holds together' well, flows, and covers a good range of topics, text types, vocabulary, grammar items, and task outcomes. When I saw the S&S from OUP, I could see they had done the same thing, which certainly made my life easier. 

Once the S&S for the book was clear in my head, my practice was to develop units out of the reading passage. Reading passages are the heart of units. The vocabulary and its context would set up and foreshadow the reading passage, and the reading passage would provide a context for the grammar and a model and/or springboard for task outcomes. So getting the reading passages right would usually mean the rest of the unit fell easily into place. 

Fortunately, it all went smoothly and on schedule and I learned loads during those months—I learned how to:

  • create visual contexts for vocabulary sets
  • write stories, blogs, conversations, articles, etc. within tight vocabulary and grammar constraints
  • design simple yet engaging vocabulary and grammar activities
  • scaffold speaking and writing task outcomes for achievability
  • produce clear, detailed art briefs

And I couldn't have done without support from a fab OUP team. 

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Thanks so much.