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...

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Apr

21

2017
‘One Day Like This’: On ensuring a confident and calm term.

‘One Day Like This’: On ensuring a confident and calm term.

“Throw those curtains wide! One day like this a year would see me right.” Elbow: ‘One Day Like This’ Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’ ends with a gloriously optimistic two and a half minutes, with Guy Garvey’s impassioned repetition of the above refrain building to a crescendo. Never has a song so wonderfully and obviously juxtaposed the act of waking up at the start of a new term....

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Apr

19

2017
‘Slow Teaching: finding calm, clarity and impact in the classroom’

‘Slow Teaching: finding calm, clarity and impact in the classroom’

Introduction to ‘Slow Teaching,’ which will be published by John Catt Educational on March 2nd 2018. It is available to order from Amazon here. The Slow Teaching Philosophy You have taken the first step: hesitantly opening the pages of this book. There may be elements of doubt in your mind as you recall the repertoire of more fashionable and effective teaching behaviours, a speed-induced cocktail with...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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

17

2017
‘Making Every Lesson Count’ informed feedback experiments.

‘Making Every Lesson Count’ informed feedback experiments.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein I might have been tad overly optimistic at the end of last week’s post on using strategies from Andy Tharby and Shaun Allison’s ‘Making Every Lesson Count’: “Regardless, I skipped out of school on Friday afternoon like Mr Du Beke himself.” Now don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed a week of...

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Mar

10

2017
‘Making Every Lesson Count’ informed teaching of writing

‘Making Every Lesson Count’ informed teaching of writing

“Head orders empathy lessons for screen-fixated Generation Me” Headline ‘The Sunday Times’ I had a delightful train journey to Glasgow last weekend (to take my Gran to see Anton Du Beke of Strictly Come Dancing fame, seeing as you asked. Yes, as wild as it sounds, thank you.) The journey there I spent reading and reflecting on the first three sections of Shaun Allison and Andy...

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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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