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Subject Genius Blog: English
Writing to argue is an art form and you can’t argue with that...
Ssshhhh...don’t say it out loud, don’t even murmur it, keep your thoughts to yourself, to even think it is an admittance that the maxim is...
5th September 2017 at 16:28
Give students a more authentic, enjoyable and successful writing experience by allowing them the time and space to think
About a year ago I took a group of students on a creative writing course: a long weekend in Inverness away from modern technology and the...
21st March 2017 at 14:02
The warm-up: how reflective and timed tasks can help to focus students’ minds during English lessons
Back in November, things weren't clicking with my current Y11 class. Whilst their bodies would enter the classroom on time for lessons,...
8th February 2017 at 16:58
Brexit, Trump and An Inspector Calls
“We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.” An Inspector Calls, JB Priestley. My Year 11 class are fascinated by the...
20th January 2017 at 16:06
How do you solve a problem like the end of term?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down (when everyone else is showing videos …)? In common with, I am sure, many colleagues, I hate the...
20th December 2016 at 18:24
Engaging your Rogue Ones: bringing Star Wars into the classroom
Not that long ago, in a primary school just down the road, a young boy - let’s call him Luke Schoolboy – was in a rut. Disenchanted with...
14th December 2016 at 12:20
Stringing them along
“What’s that, Miss?” enquired one of my students, eyeing the ball of string lying on the floor of the classroom curiously. Earlier that...
13th December 2016 at 15:49
Blake and the importance of protest
Not long ago I visited Dachau concentration camp. Passing through the entrance gates, the infamous words ‘Arbeit macht frei’ welded into...
27th October 2016 at 15:01
Going old school - learning poems "by heart"
This year I am reading 'Love That Dog' by Sharon Creech for the first time with my year 8s. It is a novel written in free verse diary...
26th October 2016 at 15:01
Write first time: planning your first literacy unit
Newly qualified teacher? Welcome to the other side. Please take a seat. With the new term upon us, no doubt you have been through the new-...
20th October 2016 at 16:07
More than a thousand words: A salute to the genius of picture books
If you believe the old cliché, then a picture says more than a thousand words. By that logic, the value of a picture book - a wordless or...
22nd September 2016 at 17:21
Our Island and the Others: three ways to get children talking about empathy
When it comes to a good book, the affinity I feel with a character is what draws me in. This is even more rewarding when, at first glance,...
11th August 2016 at 13:07
Battling the end of year drop off: When students go AWOL
Teaching in a British international school in a Middle Eastern, Muslim country comes with many challenges. Not least the blistering 50...
30th June 2016 at 15:11
Why it’s so important to laugh at your student’s jokes.
After you’ve been teaching a few years, it can sometimes feel like you’ve read every student essay and story before. When you’re tired and...
27th June 2016 at 15:01
“Everything is as it was; and everything has changed” – Michael Frayn’s ‘Spies’ with a weaker set.
To clumsily paraphrase the late, great Don Bradman’s advice on what to do if you won the toss on the morning of a Test Match: “if you are...
16th June 2016 at 18:21
“Em, Em – don’t you know me?” Thomas Hardy and his ‘Woman much missed’
“Goodness! You’re quite hard on him, aren’t you?” A colleague had asked if she could observe my teaching of Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Voice’. She...
11th May 2016 at 18:34
The SATs demon
“Who knows what an expanded noun phrase is?” You can imagine the look on my face when the answer to my all-important question was a sea of...
6th April 2016 at 15:01
“Miss, can we watch a film?”
It’s that time of year again. The time of year when every teacher in the land is being greeted at the beginning of every lesson with a...
18th December 2015 at 15:00
A lesson exploring the rules of dystopian fiction, thanks to Boy23
In 2008, “The Hunger Games” first hit our radars and bookish teens were introduced to Katniss Everdeen and her “star crossed” romance with...
10th December 2015 at 16:00
PAF with a purpose
To prepare for the longer writing tasks at the end of the English Language papers, we all have to get our pupils to write in a variety of...
26th November 2015 at 16:34
All the world's a stage
Drama is a lifeblood to English. In most schools, the relationship between the two is perhaps a little more complicated than it needs to be...
9th November 2015 at 17:13
How children can learn a lesson on diary writing, thanks to the Wimpy Kid
Greg is back for another pre-teen adventure in Jeff Kinney’s newest instalment in the ‘Wimpy Kid’ series. This time, his overprotective and...
4th November 2015 at 15:19
My top five poems to teach primary school pupils
It is so important to share poems with children as essentially poetry is about words choices and use of words. It’s thinking about how...
8th October 2015 at 17:30
My top five poems to inspire secondary school students
Ask an English teacher about their favourite poem and you’re likely to evoke a full on ramble, beginning with the moment they first fell in...
8th October 2015 at 15:36
A Road to Resilience
I went to Wolfson College, Cambridge, recently for a tour of its gardens. Not much of a gardener myself, I was struck by a remarkable...
2nd October 2015 at 16:25
Inspire students with an open-ended task
When I was 14 years old I spent a lot of time in the school library during what seemed to be the endlessly cold and rainy grey days of...
30th September 2015 at 17:00
Waving goodbye to point, quote, explain
Is it time to say goodbye to P.Q.E.? After years of intoning this musty old acronym, I’m beginning to wonder whether there aren’t some...
15th September 2015 at 16:52
Classroom displays: the good, the bad and the ugly
When I was a child, I used to stare in wonder at my teacher’s display boards. His classroom was a spectacular milieu of colour: a truly...
9th September 2015 at 17:20
It’s All About the Pace
First things first: disclaimer time: Slow Writing is very much David Didau’s thing– I attended a literacy conference last year, and it was...
2nd September 2015 at 10:05
Introducing Year 7s to the delights of poetry
Last term, I had the joy of introducing my year 7 pupils to poetry. I love poetry, and I wanted my pupils to love it too. But poetry is...
6th July 2015 at 11:28