Monday, 1 May 2017

Teaching ideas: what has worked for me recently?

I've been pretty rubbish at blogging about practical teaching strategies for a while now. Perhaps it's my new role this year or starting to write for TES, but squeezing blog writing into my schedule has become a bit of an impossible task. Luckily, the seconds it takes to quickly take a photo and write a tweet has meant I haven't stopped documenting much of what works in my classroom.

For a while I've been meaning to pull all of this together so that people can find it without having to try to navigate the search function on Twitter. Finally, thanks to the joys of the bank holiday I've done it. So, here goes: an attempt to sum up what has worked for me recently in my English classroom...

Notes: I've only included things that I think are originally my ideas or were inspired by the work of the brilliant teachers in my Faculty. If you are at all concerned I've not credited or have incorrectly included someone else's idea please do just give me a shout! I've also hyperlinked to the original tweet as in many cases people have gone away and produced something better in their own schools as a result.

Try using the 'literally' (what's actually happening), 'metaphorically' (the deeper meaning, often feelings) and 'symbolically' (what it's teaching us about all people/life) as a way of encouraging students to explore meanings in literary texts.

Aim high and introduce GCSE students to critical theory using my postcards. If you search 'critical postcards' on Twitter you'll see a million adaptations for different texts.

Use circles to scaffold analysis instead of sentence starters. This is the work of Lauren Hucknall (@HucknallL) who's in my Faculty. You should all follow her as she's a ridiculously brilliant teacher who I've nicked heaps from this year.

Students often struggle to explain the effect on the reader or the impact on language beyond happy/sad. Create a word bank at the start of the lesson by getting them to label emojis.

Give your students these terminology flash cards to improve their critical vocabulary.

Try limiting the ways GCSE short story writing can be structured using these three approaches. Free rein is rarely successfully in my experience...

Or, teach them to write from unusual narrative perspectives.


Give students a vocabulary help sheet - not just analytical terms - when approaching a literary text.

Try synonym links as a quick task to build vocabulary. Ask students to consider the impact of each word choice. Note this was nicked from a member of my Faculty who's not on Twitter.

Use 'Would I lie to you?' to introduce new vocabulary. In this examples the words were taken from short story students were about to read.

Use sticky labels to help students organise their revision work

Label your resources by number for ease of reference. Make '0' the SoW and any pre-reading you want teachers to complete.

We write on the cover of books when we do work scrutiny and moderation so students, parents, and senior leaders can see that we have high expectations and are checking.

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