English Teaching


Jun

27

2017
Preparing Year 9 for GCSE: demystifying Dickens

Preparing Year 9 for GCSE: demystifying Dickens

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” Benjamin Franklin There is nothing worse than ending a year feeling like you haven’t managed to “win over” a group. Last year my Year 9 group strolled out of our final lesson and I felt that deflated tug. A troublesome group, they tested me in every single aspect: behaviour management, planning, relationships – the whole cocktail....

Read More


Jun

09

2017
Teaching ‘To Autumn’ by John Keats

Teaching ‘To Autumn’ by John Keats

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun” John Keats ‘To Autumn’ Time to be honest: the exam “season” is as far from “mellow fruitfulness” as can be imagined for everyone involved. It certainly isn’t a “close bosom-friend” of anything related to me,  let alone how the poor students feel about it. Yet as Year 11 clutch their sweaty pens for a final time...

Read More


May

24

2017
Teaching Narrative writing part two: slow and seductive modelling.

Teaching Narrative writing part two: slow and seductive modelling.

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” — Samuel Johnson A quick confession that would have Mr Johnson spinning in his grave: I left London. Nearly half a decade was enough for me,...

Read More


May

05

2017
Teaching poetry at Key Stage Three: securing skills.

Teaching poetry at Key Stage Three: securing skills.

“If a poem hasn’t ripped apart your soul; you haven’t experienced poetry.” ― Edgar Allan Poe I would class myself as a poetry fan. In fact, in the obscurity of this space I can drop the conventional restrained politeness. I can wax lyrically without reserve, without the inevitable eyebrow arched response and the incredulous glance. I can euphorically pronounce a passion and love for it that usually has anyone...

Read More


Apr

27

2017
Teaching Narrative writing at GCSE

Teaching Narrative writing at GCSE

“Talking in bed ought to be easiest, Lying together there goes back so far, An emblem of two people being honest. Yet more and more time passes silently.” Philip Larkin ‘Talking in Bed’.  The new term begins: the Year 10 students eagerly dive into the classroom, well rested and primed for the next five weeks. Their newly bronzed faces speak only of a desire to...

Read More


Apr

13

2017
The Revision Collection

The Revision Collection

Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future. William Wordsworth. Last year, at the ripe old age of thirty, I passed my driving test. After years of running and cycling everywhere the time had come to...

Read More


Apr

05

2017
Stepping stones to GCSE: using King’s ‘I have a dream.’

Stepping stones to GCSE: using King’s ‘I have a dream.’

“Let’s enjoy it while we can (let’s enjoy it while we can) Won’t you help me share my load (help me share my load) From the dark end of the street To the bright side of the road.” Van Morrison ‘Bright Side of the Road’. I’m happy to publicly admit it: I am going through a full Van Morrison obsession. It is insatiable, he is...

Read More


Mar

29

2017
English Language extracts: Smashing the superficial with Dickens.

English Language extracts: Smashing the superficial with Dickens.

“NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else.” Charles Dickens ‘Hard Times’ Fine, the facts: in the course of a two hour GCSE exam the students will have one hour, one long 20th century fiction extract (roughly 65-70 lines) to unpick challenging plot and language and hunt...

Read More


Mar

24

2017
The Ghost of Memory: Revision and retention for ‘A Christmas Carol’

The Ghost of Memory: Revision and retention for ‘A Christmas Carol’

“You recollect the way?” inquired the Spirit. “Remember it!” cried Scrooge with fervour; “I could walk it blindfold.” My Year 11 group initially studied ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the first term of Year 10. Three weeks ago we dusted off Marley’s chains and began revising it, eight weeks in advance of their exam. My opening gambit was deliberately provocative: each student was presented with a...

Read More


Mar

03

2017
Revising unseen poetry

Revising unseen poetry

“Hope is being able to see there is light despite all of the darkness” Desmond Tutu. This gentleman beautifully encapsulates Year 11’s approach to unseen poetry at this stage of the term: utterly lacking in direction and blindly searching for something, anything to hold on to.  I fully empathise with them: how often can we immediately grasp the nuances of poetry on a first reading, let...

Read More



Page 3 of 41234