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October 2017

On Open Evenings: No place like ordinary school life

open evenings

Earlier this month, the TES published my article on Open Evenings which, I think, have become a bit too much about making believe…read more.

September 2017

On set text Knowledge Organisers and Kahoot! quizzes

kahoot quizzes on set texts

At the end of last year we spent an English team meeting selecting the best bits from a variety of different Knowledge Organisers and specifying what we thought was missing. This Summer I combined what we thought was the best of the best into one Knowledge Organiser for each of our set texts… read more.

On our Weekly Reading Challenge for KS4

new logo weekly reading challenge

Every week, as part of their homework, our year 10 students will be set a directed reading homework. They will be sent a link or PDF to an article, short story or extract and given a week to read it. This will be followed up with a… read more.

On blog of the week 2016-2017

star of the weekEvery week I share a blog post with my team (with a short summary/comment). I thought I’d share last year’s list with you in case you missed any of these fab posts. There’s a clearly English bent (quelle surprise) but I think it covers a variety of topics…read more.

August 2017

Guest Blog by Linda Evans: On a reading success story

linda reading

I love reading. If I could think of one thing that would define me as a person, something that everyone I know understands about me, reading would be it… read more.

On anticipating GCSE Results Day 2017: taking the leap as a new HoD

taking the leap

This week the TES published my article on what it feels like, as a new Head of Department, to be anticipating GCSE Results Day 2017… read more.

On written feedback being a fever

Mary_Mallon_(Typhoid_Mary)

This week the TES published my article on written feedback being a fever that we need to treat. Fast…read more.

July 2017

On why we need to stop feeding the data monster

data monster

This week the TeachWire published my article on why I think we need to stop feeding the data monster…read more.

On Redesigning the KS3 English Curriculum Part 2 #rEDRugby

slide 6

I was honoured to be invited to speak at ResearchED Rugby on the 1st July 2017. In Part 1 I shared my views about KS3 in recent years and my arguments for re-prioritising it. In this post I’ll share details of my KS3 curriculum redesign and where we’re going with it next year…read more.

On Redesigning the KS3 English Curriculum Part 1 #rEDRugby

redrugby programme

I was honoured to be invited to speak at ResearchED Rugby on the 1st July 2017. I had the sexiest title (see above) on the conference programme but was unfortunately up against the likes of Oliver Caviglioli and Jake Hunton… Still, I had a good crowd who were witness to my first ever presentation at a conference…read more.

On shiny ideas and the dangers of being a magpie

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This week the TES published my article on classroom innovation and the questions we should be asking ourselves when we come across a shiny idea… read more.

June 2017

Guest Blog by Storm Kirkham: On finding a healthy balance

storm

When I was asked to write a guest blog, I instantly felt drawn to writing about the moments in my career that have really made an impact, how I dealt with them and the support or advice I could offer to other new teachers. The overall intention being to share not only how to survive but how to enjoy the profession…read more.

May 2017

On the Weekly Writing Challenge

Year 7 example

If you’re an English teacher on Twitter you will have found it hard to have missed the 200 Word Challenge idea which was the brain child of Chris Curtis (see this post). It’s taken off and lots of English teachers around the country have taken his lead. We decided, after Easter, to join the 200 Word Challenge revolution; we’ve not looked back…read more.

On matchstick lamp posts

narrative question

Every so often, a student writes something which moves me. Last week my year 10s completed their final mock papers ahead of their English Language exam this Summer and one piece of writing in particular caught my attention…read more.

On curating 5-a-Day Starters

IMG_2050

One on my most popular ever posts was this one on my use of 5-a-Day starters for retrieval practice at the start of lessons; it has been wonderful to see the idea spread into other teachers’ classrooms. Encouraged by Grainne Hallahan (@heymrshallahan), I’m now creating a bank of these starters… read more.

On my 2nd blogoversary

blog is 2

Exactly two years ago today I wrote my first blog post for ‘The Learning Profession’. It was just a few days before #GE2015 and I wouldn’t have anticipated I’d be sitting here two years later in the countdown to another general. Having said that, I wouldn’t have anticipated a lot of what has happened to me between then and now…read more.

April 2017

On John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat: An Introduction to Narrative Writing

10

You may not have read this beautiful little story before (I urge you to get your hands on a copy if you haven’t). I hadn’t come across it before Sue Brindley chose to read it to us, her final cohort of PGCE students, about a decade ago as part of a session on encouraging students to offer up their interpretations of a text. It has stuck with me ever since and it’s a book that I’ve enjoyed reading with both my boys… read more.

On Power and Conflict Pub Quizzing

pub quiz main image

Last week Chris Curtis (@Xris32) shared a great Power and Conflict resource on his blog here. This week I’m sharing my adaptation (though lots of the questions are still the same) with a PowerPoint to use in class that includes answers. Because I like a bit of pub quiz jeopardy, I’ve also… read more.

On scaffolded descriptive writing openings

bournemouth beach

My low attaining year 10 class (average aspirational target of a grade 3) have been struggling with descriptive writing. I have provided some structure (e.g. using zoom boxes to focus in on areas of the image) and we’ve explored what makes good descriptive writing, with lots of modelling and practise, but… read more.

On what stuck from #rEDlang

tom bennett

Two weeks ago I attended the ResearchED English and MFL Conference which was held in the stunning Examination Schools. Since then, there are few sessions and key messages that have stuck with me and which I thought might be worth sharing… read more.

On second chances

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I suspect we can all picture a student, present or past, with whom there came a point where we felt that we weren’t making a difference. Where we felt exhausted by the effort of trying to battle against them because we could see what they couldn’t: their potential; their progress and the possibility of their success…read more.

March 2017

On valuable feedback that supports teacher wellbeing

cover pic

The conflation of marking and feedback has led to a pernicious culture in schools that equates lots of written marking in books with high quality feedback. The irony is, of course, that the evidence on written marking is thin…read more.

On learning to notice (unseen poetry)

Notice

I picked this activity up from the AQA Effective Exam Prep course and thought it was a great way to get students to focus on the key things when tackling an unseen poem… read more.

On how we’re marking PPEs (mocks to you and me)

marking comic for blog

See that teacher? The one with ashen skin, ink smudges on her hands (insert school policy colour of preference) that can barely suppress a yawn? You know, the one with bloodshot eyes and a mug of coffee as large as her face. Yeah her. She teaches English. Be kind to her. Read more.

February 2017

On what Thumper’s father told him

thumper

When I was growing up my mum would regularly say to me, ‘What did Thumper’s mum say?’ and I would repeat back to her the maxim that if you can’t say anything nice you shouldn’t say anything at all. Words to live by; not least because being nice doesn’t mean that you can’t give feedback and constructive criticism…read more.

 

On our new whole-school literacy strategy

literacy-image

When I took up my post as Head of English in September I also took on the responsibility for whole-school literacy. Thankfully my school gave me time to devise a new strategy and sent me on a fantastic course… read more.

On speed-planning essays…

modelling-planning

It seems a perennial problem that students don’t seem to know how to revise for English exams. One of the things I’ve been doing with my year 11s is speed-planning essays… read more.

Guest Blog by Linda Evans: On using Google Docs to track reading

linda-blog-1

I have a confession to make…I am slightly obsessed with Google Docs, thanks in large part to my colleague Charlotte….read more.

On homework that requires NO marking

girl-reading-charles-edward-perugini

I love this dreamy painting by Perugini (although I’m yet to master reading a book where it remains open on the bit I actually want to read without holding it…). Perugini captures in oil that delicious feeling of being lost in a book… read more.

On AQA Paper 2 Section A

paper-2-cover

Back in December I attended AQA’s Effective Exam Preparation course for the new English Language GCSE. It was a really informative day and has been instrumental in helping me to design how we prepare our year 10 students for their English Language exam this Summer… read more.

On AQA Lit Paper 1 Section B (19th Century) Question Stems

19th-century-texts

AQA have said that they will not print any more sample assessment material for the new Literature GCSE. Although I can understand why, it does present us with the challenge of generating questions for our students… read more.

On AQA Lit Paper 1 Section A (Shakespeare) Question Stems

#WeeklyBlogChallenge17 Post 6

shakesepare

AQA have said that they will not print any more sample assessment material for the new Literature GCSE. Although I can understand why, it does present us with the challenge of generating questions for our students… read more.

On AQA Paper 1 Section A (3 is the magic number)

#WeeklyBlogChallenge17 Post 5

three-is-the-magic-number

When it comes to Paper 1 Section A, 3 really is the magic number (except when answering question 1 of course…)… read more.

January 2017

On being PiXLated

pixelate

Yesterday I travelled, along with approximately 1599 other English teachers, to the Big Smoke to attend my first PiXL English conference… read more.

On writing essays people actually want to read…

the-witches

This week I collected in some homework essays from my delightful top set year 11 class… read more.

On valuing knowledge AND engagement

butthead

I’ve been spending a bit more time on Twitter since having my appendix removed on New Year’s Day… read more.

On appendectomies and being a bad patient

appendectomy

On the morning of New Year’s Eve… read more.

On spinning and the importance of modelling

spinning

This summer I started doing something quite extraordinary (for me): spinning… read more.

November 2016

On grief and kindness

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Two weeks ago my dad died. It was very sudden and unexpected: he was only 56… read more.

May 2016

5-a-Day Starter

IMG_2050

I have a small but lively bottom set year 10 group who have found the demands of the new English Literature GCSE, well, demanding… read more.

February 2016

On becoming a Ms

ms

I’ve overheard a few conversations at the entrance to my classroom, upon the door of which sits proud a sign that says ‘Ms Foster’, in which my students try to decipher the meaning behind my title… read more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “Home”

  1. When I first came across your blog, I expected a rather cheesy tacky page filled with inspirational quotes written over sunsets, but it’s actually given me a different perspective on teaching. No, I am not a teacher myself, (very far from it actually) but it’s made me think about different peoples views on it. I assumed teaching teens was non stop stress, before, at and after work, but you’ve widened my viewpoint

    Liked by 1 person

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