On Blog of the Week 2016-17

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.

September 2016

‘Contemporary education ideas all my staff should know about’ by Tom Sherrington (@headguruteacher)
A really useful post giving a snapshot of a range of current thinking about education from the Pygmalion Effect to Growth Mindset.

‘On balance bikes and stabilisers: how we should support and scaffold’

A post with a great analogy for the differing kinds of support we can give students: either removing the most crucial/tricky part of the task or putting it centre stage.

‘Lessons from Berger: Austin’s Butterfly and not accepting mediocrity’ by Tom Sherrington

Exploring the value of critique, re-drafting and seeing what students can achieve with judicious feedback. Includes a video of Ron Berger telling the story of Austin’s Butterfly to Primary School students – I love watching it and seeing the feedback they would give to Austin to improve his butterfly, their reactions when they see Austin’s fifth draft and what Austin achieves in the end.

‘The Cliché Glass Ceiling’ by Chris Curtis (@Xris32)

I think Chris is one of the best English teacher bloggers there is. Here’s his most recent post exploring breaking through the cliché glass ceiling with students as a jump to creativity.

October 2016

‘The problem with progress Part 1: learning vs progress’ by David Didau (@LearningSpy)

David Didau is a provocative blogger but utterly persuasive. He challenges a lot that we sometimes take for granted. In this post he introduces a theme that he picks up time and time again: performance is a poor proxy for learning.

‘This much I know about…a brilliant, evidence-informed note-taking technique’ by John Tomsett (@Johntomsett)

John Tomsett is an inspirational, forward thinking and outward looking head teacher of Huntington School in York – you might even see him on Saturday at #TLT16. This post is hot off the press (and back of the school being awarded a chunk of a funding to establish a network of Research Schools). In it he discusses one of the methods a teacher has developed based upon her research. A method which might be interesting for us in its focus because it is about embedding learning in students’ memories efficiently and effectively in a short space of time.

‘#TLT16’ by @dukkhaboy

In this post dukkhaboy sums up what he learnt from the conference on Saturday.

’10 prevalent myths about English teaching – part 1’ by Andy Tharby (@atharby)

In this post Andy Tharby challenges 5 myths about English teaching (part 2 to follow soon).

November 2016

‘Making kids cleverer’ by David Didau (@DavidDidau)

David Didau on intelligence.

’10 prevalent myths about English teaching – part 2’ by Andy Tharby (@atharby)

In this post Andy Tharby challenges 5 more myths about English teaching.

‘Beyond the Show Sentence’ by Katie Ashford (@katie_s_ashford)

In this post Katie shares the Michaela School approach to teaching analytical writing – we might pick up some tips!

‘Adventures with gallery critique’ by Andy Tharby (@atharby)

In this post Tharby shares his experiences of experimenting with gallery critique (something I’m planning to trial over the next couple of weeks).

December 2016

‘I hate poems: Introducing Poetry’ by James Theobald (@jamestheo)

In this post, James shares his approach to introducing poetry (something that might get us thinking for next term).

‘Marking Crib Sheet’ by Mr Thornton (@MrThorntonTeach)

This is a post by the creator of the marking crib sheet. Both Linda and myself are converts and have found many benefits from this form of feedback: it reduces the amount of time it takes to mark a set of books; students respond really well; students have a copy of a range of really high quality feedback in their books; it is easy to track common errors.

January 2017

‘I am the greatest blogger – the superlative (part 1)’ by Mark Roberts (@mr_englishteach)

In this post, Mark argues that students’ knowledge of technical terminology allows a deeper insight into writers’ craft.

‘Reading is Knowledge’ by James Murphy (@HoratioSpeaks)

In this post, James Murphy argues that reading is knowledge and that we shouldn’t confuse skills with knowledge.

‘Reading for betterment’ by David Didau (@DavidDidau)

In this post, Didau makes the argument that perhaps our aim for students shouldn’t simply be that they read for pleasure but read for betterment.

February 2017

‘On using Google Docs to track reading’ by our very own Linda Evans (@missljevans)

In this post, Linda’s first blog post, she shares our approach to using Google Docs to track reading. A great first post and it has been really well-received.

A post from David Didau this week (because we’re seeing the man himself on Wednesday):  ‘Why I struggle with learning objectives and success criteria’

In this post Didau argues that lessons may be the unit of delivery but that doesn’t mean they have to be the unit of planning or assessment and therefore there’s an issues with single lesson objectives – he’s also scathing of ‘all/most/some’ style objectives. Didau also suggests that success criteria can be useful if derived from deconstructing an exemplar rather than being presented to students.

March 2017

A post from Mr Hanson (@lhanson1711) about analysing structure in poetry.
‘Poetry: linking structure to language in Blake’s London’

In this post Lance breaks down a paragraph analysing the structure of ‘London’. It’s worth a read and perhaps worth sharing (or stealing the paragraph to ‘model’) with students.

Shared by Jo Newbigging on Twitter, this is a post by Andy Tharby (@atharby) about being realistic about our realm of influence (which might be of some comfort in the run up to exams). You’re all doing a fab job but sometimes things are beyond even your control…
‘You win some, you lose some’

‘Tell me why I love Fridays’ by Chris Curtis (@Xris32)

The man behind the Weekly Writing Challenge!

April 2017

Alex Quigley’s ‘The Feedback Collection’ (@huntingenglish).

We’ve been talking a lot about feedback recently and I think it’s something we need to explore more – especially through the prism of wellbeing and workload.

Douglas Wise’s  ‘The Curse of Knowledge’ (@DoWise).

Doug explores this cognitive bias in relation to the stage directions in the opening of ‘An Inspector Calls’.

May 2017

‘Allusion: Teach it’ by Mr Pink (@positivteacha).

Matt shares his arguments for why we should be teaching allusion (he’ll be speaking about this at #TLT17 in October).

‘Principles of Instruction: Research-Based Strategies That All Teachers Should Know’ by Barak Rosenshine.
Not a blog but a really informative article about the most effective strategies for learning.

‘Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Teaching’ by Carl Hendrick  (@C_Hendrick)

An insightful, reflective blog post that includes bitesize research.

‘Cognitive Load Theory for Beginners’ by Dan Williams (@FurtherEdagogy)

There’s lots out there at the moment about Cognitive Load Theory. This breaks it down nicely. Enjoy!

June 2017

‘Write like J.K. Rowling (as easy as 1-2-3)’ by Alex Quigley (@HutingEnglish)

Alex explores the importance of the writing cycle and students editing/re-drafting and evaluating.

‘Two Examples are Better Than One’ a Guest Blog on the Learning Scientists Website by Althea Bauerschmidt (@DrSilverFox)

A really interesting article about why students can’t necessarily use a single example to help them solve something later on and why, therefore, we should give two examples.

Not a blog this week but a look into Andy Tharby’s new book ‘Making every English lesson count’ (@atharby)

A bit of a tease, I know. If you want to read the forerunner to this (Making every lesson count) give me a shout because I have a copy.

5 Useful Online Resources for English Teachers by James Theobald (@JamesTheo)

A useful little blog with some fab online resources. Linda might be especially interested in the JSTOR Understanding Shakespeare resource!

July 2017

Communal Reading by Dave Grimmett (@daveg5478)

I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on this one….

Does prompting students during retrieval practice improve performance by The Learning Scientists (@AceThatTest)

Some interesting findings about free recall vs. prompted recall.

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