Nov

16

2018
Teaching Writing Using Comparisons

Teaching Writing Using Comparisons

“Thought the quest for improvement may be informed by lessons and honed by practice, it must first be kindled by delight in the best works of the masters and a desire to approach their excellence”. Steven Pinker ‘The Sense of Style’ Over half-term I had planned to read ‘Learned Optimism’ by Martin Seligman and Steven Pinker’s ‘The Sense of Style: The Thinking person’s guide to writing...

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Oct

06

2018
‘The Four M’s’ in the English classroom

‘The Four M’s’ in the English classroom

Yesterday, I delivered a workshop to a group of English teachers from Harris Academy, under the title of ‘Sustainable Outstanding Teaching’. In part of the talk I wanted to talk about what I am focussing on developing in my own classroom practice this term.  I have, in a moment of lightning bolt genius, deemed one my pedagogical projects for the year ‘The Four M’s.’ Now...

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Aug

28

2018
Retro Microphone

The TES English Teaching Podcast

For the past two months I have had a social media and, for the most part, educational break. I haven’t read anything on education, I haven’t seen a single Twitter feed and I have, as far as possible, tried to live a mobile phone free existence. I won’t bore you too much with the rationale for this, and fear not – this is not another...

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Jun

23

2018
Teaching and Learning Leeds Conference: ‘Slow Teaching: A recipe for improved teaching, leadership and wellbeing.’

Teaching and Learning Leeds Conference: ‘Slow Teaching: A recipe for improved teaching, leadership and wellbeing.’

I have spent this week obsessing and fretting about delivering this at the wonderful Teaching and Learning Leeds Conference. This was the initial ‘script’, and while I gave learning it a good bash, what I spluttered through in fifty minutes might not have sounded exactly like this! “The best laid schemes” and all that…   I appreciate that this is a slightly terrifying list for...

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Jun

15

2018
Summer term experiments: Year 10, ‘Invictus’ and ’12 Years a Slave.’

Summer term experiments: Year 10, ‘Invictus’ and ’12 Years a Slave.’

    “Don’t address their brains, address their hearts.” Nelson Mandela. This mission to develop the reading confidence of my low set Year 10 group continued with earnest this week. Last weekend, I spent a delightful hour rummaging around my book shelf to find some suitable extracts (my long suffering wife seemed to have issues with my retort that I couldn’t possibly complete any housework,...

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Jun

08

2018
Summer term experiments: Year 10, extracts and creative writing.

Summer term experiments: Year 10, extracts and creative writing.

“Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” Oliver Sacks ‘Gratitude.’ The sun is shining, exams are (finally) coming to a close and there are now glimpses of time available to think and be creative in the classroom. My low set Year 10 now need some serious...

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May

23

2018
On unseen poetry and comparing texts: royal adventures.

On unseen poetry and comparing texts: royal adventures.

“The preacher is doing 50 in a 30 zone and it’s brilliant.” Jeremy Vine. As a Manchester United fan (the less said the better) and with running the Edinburgh marathon looming terrifyingly on Sunday, I was on the hunt for some solace this weekend. It arrived in the most unexpected of places: the wonderfully passionate speech of the preacher Michael Curry that stole the show...

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May

04

2018
Last minute Year 11 lessons: a collection.

Last minute Year 11 lessons: a collection.

“I don’t want to know about evil Only want to know about love I don’t want to know about evil Only want to know about love” John Martyn ‘Don’t want to know’ Our lovely wee boy, Christopher,  entered the world last Monday. While he has fully embraced his literary nickname of ‘Christopher Robin’, one thing he has well and truly refused to even recognise is...

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Apr

13

2018
Non-fiction Writing Revision

Non-fiction Writing Revision

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald Now I’m confident Mr Fitzgerald has some sage (perhaps even ‘Great’) guidance to pass on about the writing process. But just how often did he tackle the challenge of helping thirty adolescents find ‘something to say’, when faced with non-fiction writing tasks? I have...

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Apr

06

2018
Slow English Teaching: from superficial to skilled English Teaching

Slow English Teaching: from superficial to skilled English Teaching

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein. With our first wee one on the way in the next two weeks, (my wife is not appreciating my attempts to cajole he/she to hold out and share a birthday with Shakespeare on the 23rd of April), it will be a very quiet couple of months on here. When...

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