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Bringing literacy to life with Discovery Education Espresso

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The King Fahad Academy in London uses Discovery Education Espresso to support teaching and learning from Early Years to KS2. English and Reading Coordinator Haneen Al Jaaf shares how the platform’s real-world digital content engages pupils, saves teachers time and brings English lessons to life.

A GO-TO RESOURCE

I’ve been using Discovery Education Espresso since I joined the King Fahad Academy in 2014. We follow the National Curriculum and Espresso supports our teaching in every subject. Espresso’s digital content is very appealing for children because it’s so interactive. They particularly like the English resources and the phonics videos are a firm favourite.

FUN PHONICS

Espresso Phonics introduces letters and sounds in a fun way, helping pupils with reading and spelling. For me, the best thing about Espresso Phonics is its simplicity. The videos are short, to the point and focused on each learning objective. They’re presented by colourful animated characters which makes them very engaging. My pupils associate the different sounds with each character, which makes learning memorable. It’s simple but very effective.

PUPIL PROGRESS

Assessing progress is easy with Espresso Phonics, thanks to the various built-in activities. Pupils can practice sorting new sounds and segmenting words before putting these skills into practice. Having phonics videos and activities together in one place is so useful for me because it saves planning time.  I simply add a video and quiz to my PowerPoint and I’m ready to go! I know that my lesson will be engaging. The content is visual and I don’t have to ask the children too many questions.

GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION

I also use Espresso to teach grammar and punctuation in KS1 and KS2. The platform helps me to make lessons engaging, while meeting the National Curriculum. Each learning objective has its own video to introduce the concept with practical examples. Some children find grammar and punctuation lessons boring, but Espresso makes it fun.  The videos take learning further by showing the children how to improve their writing and make it even better.

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PERSONALISED LEARNING

One of the best things about Espresso is that it allows me to differentiate learning. Working with a very diverse cohort including EAL learners, it’s essential for me to be able to do this. My pupils have individual Espresso logins, so it’s easy to assign work directly. There is also a feature called Studio which by assigning ‘boards’ with embedded quizzes to pupils, lets me see what they’ve completed and assess progress. Let’s say a child in Year 6 is struggling with fronted adverbials. I can assign a bespoke grammar lesson in Studio by uploading a video, text and quiz. It’s a great way of providing targeted learning support. 

SAVING TEACHERS TIME

Espresso provides lots of tools and guidance to save teachers time. Each channel has a detailed Teacher Guide, with an overview of the content and how it matches curriculum objectives. This is helpful for evidencing because I can show that I’m delivering exactly what’s needed.  Espresso also reduces my workload in terms of preparation and marking. I don’t have to look elsewhere for resources and I can use the built-in Quiz tool to tick off my formative assessments.

INSPIRING IDEAS

As well as saving time, Espresso also provides me with fantastic teaching ideas – particularly through the ‘Spotlight on Strategies’ series. Written by teachers for teachers, ‘SOS Strategies’ offers creative, practical ideas for using digital media in the classroom. My favourite is ‘6 Word Story’, which asks the children to describe an image in six words. I also enjoy Discovery Education’s Tuesday Tutorials – online training sessions which help me to get the most out of Espresso.

PERFECT POETRY

Espresso has some great resources for teaching poetry. Recently, one of the poems that we were studying was quite challenging. We were teaching online at the time which wasn’t ideal, but Espresso saved our lives! It helped the children to access the text and to understand it. For me as a teacher, it was great to have everything in one place – the poem, worksheets and quizzes – and to be able to assign it remotely.  I created a Studio Board with some tweaks for my lower ability pupils, shared it on Google Classroom and we were ready to go!

ENCOURAGING READING

As an English teacher, I’m passionate about encouraging a love of reading. Not all children have access to books at home and digital content can be a powerful hook for today’s young learners. Espresso includes lots of short, digital articles that appeal to my pupils and inspire them to look for books on the same topic. It’s so important to help children enjoy reading and to make it fun. Espresso does this in lots of ways.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORT

Espresso really is an amazing resource. It saves teachers time and inspires pupils, helping them to become independent learners who can take the initiative. What really makes Espresso stand out for me is the exceptional customer service. This is a company that really wants to help teachers; not just to provide excellent resources but to support every step of the way. As a practitioner, it’s important for me to be able to access information quickly. If I ever need help or support, the team at Discovery Education are always there.

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