Over the past few months I have read many blogposts from a wide range of bloggers. What follows are links to some of the (mainly) practical posts written by English teachers that have inspired me the most. Each post rings true to me as an ordinary classroom English teacher on a full timetable; each post contains ideas that, I think, cut to the core of English pedagogy and immediately translate to the everyday classroom.
I am accutely aware that there will be glaring omissions. I may have missed the post originally; I may have simply forgotten it. My apologies if this is so. I must warn you that I have also plugged some of my own posts too.
My original plan was to produce a document to share with my English department but I figured it was worthwhile adding to the blog too. At my school, we have identified a set of pedagogical principles that we acknowledge are vital to expert teaching. They underpin our thinking, yet can be implemented in the style the teacher prefers. They are challenge, explanation, modelling, questioning and feedback. I will use these to categorize the posts.
- Phil Stock’s measured and insightful post on teacher knowledge and expertise is a great place to start. For me, subject knowledge drives challenge. Prospero’s knowledge: magic or curse?
- Joe Kirby’s brilliant post on planning contains great advice on how to piece together a challenging, knowledge-rich unit of work. How to plan a knowledge unit in English
- Kerry Pulleyn has written a great post on how we can challenge students to adopt a more academic register in their writing. Improving the formality of students’ writing – nominalisation
- Here, James Theobald draws on personal experience to argue how it is elitist to deny less-able and disadvantaged students the chance to read texts from the canon. Elitism? Be careful how you use that word.
- And now for some shameless self-promotion. My post on how we might differentiate from a position of challenge. Differentiating the responsive way
- Make sure you read this post by David Bunker before you choose your next KS3 reader. John the reader
- Most ITT students I work with seem to have spent their training being advised to speak less in class, rather than to speak well. Alex Quigley’s peerless practical post should be read by all English teachers. Explanations: Top Ten Teaching Tips
- Tom Boulter’s recent post, in which he exposes common explanation pitfalls, is a great foil to Alex’s post. Top 5 ways to explain – badly…
- Here is a post of mine on simple ways to explain through using analogy. Analogy: the trusty servant of teacher talk
- Once again, Alex Quigley is the man to start with. His post on writing collaboratively is a must-read. Shared Writing: Modelling Mastery
- This post from Mark Miller has really inspired me into thinking of kids as apprentices to master writers. Working with Mentor Texts
- John Tomsett’s idea of using exemplar essays to plan backwards is a masterstroke (as is his ‘Janus-faced sentence’ strategy). This much I know about… teaching students to plan stonkingly good essays
- This post from the ever-brilliant Chris Curtis provides a huge list of exemplar sentence structures. It is one of the best teaching resources I have ever come across. Death to sentence stems! Long live the sentence structures!
- Chris Curtis’ post based on his TLT13 talk provides a wealth of inventive advice. Questioning the questions
- These two posts from Alex Quigley provide a treasure trove of advice about ways to build a culture of high quality questioning and discussion. Top Ten Questioning Strategies and ‘Disciplined Discussion – As easy as ABC
- Here David Didau considers the importance of oracy and introduces the brilliantly simple concept of ‘thought stems’ to improve academic speech in our students. Developing oracy: it’s talkin’ time
- ‘Closed questions’ in English are too often given short shrift. Joe Kirby, here, uses the findings from cognitive science to demonstrate how regular quizzing and retrieval practice are crucial to long-term retention. One scientific insight for curriculum design
- David Didau’s seminal post on marking has introduced many teachers to the concept of DIRT and many students to the idea that they must respond to our feedback. Marking is an act of love
- Getting kids to respond to marking is a tricky business and in this post I put forward some of the successful strategies we have been using in my department. Strategic marking for the DIRTy- minded teacher
- I have become increasingly skeptical about ‘red pen accountability’. In this article for Guardian Teach, I make three suggestions to make feedback less arduous. How to make marking more efficient
- This post from Chris Curtis describes how he writes with the students and then asks them to compare their writing to his. A great way to help students formulate their own feedback. When will… when will… when will I be subtle?
- David Didau’s ‘slow writing’ approach has been revolutionary in many English departments. Slow writing: how slowing down can improve your writing
- Dawn Bellamy’s post on using sentence stems demonstrates how simple ideas can develop into great ideas. ‘I hold with those who favor fire’
- The humble worksheet is much-maligned. Informed by cognitive science research, Phil Stock provides some excellent examples of resources that aid both the encoding and retrieval of learning. Worksheet 2.0: learning concepts, deliberate practice and desirable difficulties
These are just a flavour of what’s out there. I hope these posts and the bloggers who wrote them inspire you in the same way they have me.
Please add any references to posts or bloggers you feel I have left out in the comments section. (I appreciate that this is mainly a list of living white males!)