English Teaching


Jan

28

2021
Teaching Creative Writing on Teams

Teaching Creative Writing on Teams

  I am a strong believer in the benefits of writing in supporting mental health and wellbeing. I know how much it has helped me, particularly over the last five years. Oliver Sacks captures the immersive power of it poignantly in the final paragraph of his autobiography ‘On The Move’: “The act of writing, when it goes well, gives me a pleasure, a joy, unlike...

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Jan

13

2021
Online English Teaching: Tone in non-fiction texts

Online English Teaching: Tone in non-fiction texts

The motivation for resurrecting this weekly blog this year is very simple: to reflect carefully on how to be a better English teacher. Is that a possible aim in our new online teaching world? Last week, as I sat with a computer wrestling with Teams and becoming more and more enraged, I would have offered a resounding no. Some teachers chuckle and modestly claim to...

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Jan

07

2021
On Teaching Reading.

On Teaching Reading.

  “There will always be another book to read, or guiltily to reread. And that is a joy for all of us.” Stig Abell ‘Things I learned on the 6.28.’ One book. That, dear reader, was the sum total of my Christmas gift stash. One book. My status as a mid-thirties male, however, was firmly entrenched: legions of socks; more ties than I could possibly...

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Jun

14

2019
Improving students’ writing about personal experiences

Improving students’ writing about personal experiences

“I don’t know what to write about.” Ah, how familiar we English teachers are with the above adolescent lament. When it comes to writing about personal experiences, all of a sudden they have never left the darkened shelter of their rooms, never interacted with anyone and pursue absolutely no hobbies whatsoever. Their heads shake and they gaze wistfully off into the distance: “I don’t do...

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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

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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