English Teaching


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...

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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...

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Feb

10

2017
Alice in Readerland: Year 7 and Doug Lemov’s ‘Reading Reconsidered’

Alice in Readerland: Year 7 and Doug Lemov’s ‘Reading Reconsidered’

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” ― Lewis Carroll, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ How far to extend and challenge year Year 7? What is the balance between engagement and rigour in the Key Stage Three classroom? What do we want to secure in terms of reading habits in Year 7? As I highlighted in this post evaluating the research on...

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Jan

27

2017
Preparing Year 9 for GCSE: Teaching Shakespeare

Preparing Year 9 for GCSE: Teaching Shakespeare

“Tis a villain, sir, I do not love to look upon”. Shakespeare ‘The Tempest’ Miranda’s scathing rebuttal of Caliban is a slightly more eloquent version of the reaction of my Year 9 classes to the discovery that they would be spending seven weeks in the company of Shakespeare at the start of this term. As this post on teaching narrative last term highlights, I teach two Year...

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Jan

13

2017
Eduqas Component 2 Mock informed teaching: an action plan.

Eduqas Component 2 Mock informed teaching: an action plan.

But all the clocks in the city Began to whirr and chime: ‘O let not Time deceive you, You cannot conquer Time. W.H Auden “As I walked out one evening’ One of the pleasures of starting the  A-Z of classic Literature challenge this month has been spending some time in the company of W. H Auden (confession: much less enthusiastic about the time spent with Austen’s ‘Emma’!) The...

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Dec

01

2016
Year 11 mock exams: speedos, modelling writing and self assessment.

Year 11 mock exams: speedos, modelling writing and self assessment.

“Eagerly I reached for my delightful new purchase: a five pound pair of silver speedos.” The great debate this week: spend five hours marking thirty copies of my middle set Year 11 pieces of creative writing or spend an hour writing my own example and sharing with them? The ponder: which will have more impact in improving their understanding of what makes engaging writing?  Which will enthuse them more...

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Nov

25

2016
Like Lambs to the Slaughter: preparing Year 9 for GCSE English

Like Lambs to the Slaughter: preparing Year 9 for GCSE English

  “Mary Maloney was waiting for her husband to come home from work.” Poor old Mary, the jilted lover of Roald Dahl’s masterful ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’.   It all began so calmly. Her tumultuous marriage has been the focus for two Year 9 groups I am teaching this year: one a low band set and one a middle band. Both these groups present different learners...

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Nov

11

2016
UNSPECIFIED - DECEMBER 16: Henry VIII Tudor (Greenwich, 1491-London, 1547), 1539-1541, King of England and King of Ireland with his family portrait wearing the outfit worn for his marriage to Anne of Cleves. Painting by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543), oil on panel, 88.5 x74.5 cm. Rome, Galleria Nazionale D'Arte Antica Di Palazzo Barberini ( National Art Gallery, Barberini Palace) (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Shakespearean Trump card: teaching ‘Macbeth’.

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. If ever a week was required to emphasise the importance and relevance of teaching Shakespeare and ‘Macbeth’ to young people, this week was one. I set this Sizzling Shakespearean Starter...

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Aug

15

2016
The Joys of English Teaching

The Joys of English Teaching

  Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition. —Jacques Barzun The space of a few weeks of sunshine does some wonderful things to your vision of what you do. In this frame of mind, wholeheartedly idealistic (and perhaps cleansed from some of the less perfect realities of the classroom!) this post will unashamedly celebrate the unique beauty and value of...

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