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Trying to tie it all together: Snippets from previous posts

Some thoughts from an earlier post:

  • Quality First Teaching – Make sure that every teacher feels able to deliver the best lessons possible in a culture of both high expectations and support (what we want for the pupils too!)
  • Making the implicit explicit:
  • speak your thoughts aloud; speak clearly and with a sophisticated vocabulary; read clearly and with expression; write with the students; revise ‘live’; ask the questions you really want to ask; don’t be satisfied with simple answers; make feedback timely and useful.
  • Make sure that pupils are acting on marking in some way (DIRT)
  • I would strongly encourage all teachers to request a Visualiser; you can show a good piece of work to the class, mark a piece of work with the class, annotate a text with the class and show different drafts of the same piece of work throughout a lesson. There are other uses for a Visualiser, however the four strategies I have mentioned are the ones I use most often.

Making Every English Lesson Count:

‘We each have to carve out our own teaching identity’

The principles:

  1. Challenge
  2. Explanation
  3. Modelling
  4. Deliberate practice
  5. Questioning
  6. Feedback

‘Real English teaching requires you to take the harder route’ p4

Teaching vocabulary:

Wittgenstein: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”

  • words should be taught in context
  • words should be taught with student friendly explanations
  • students need to see how words work in multiple contexts
  • students should practise using the words straight away
  • students should have multiple exposures to new words
  • teach two or three words a lesson
  • model your love of words
  • insist on precise vocabulary in discussion

Preparation/priming a class for a text:

  • Provide three quotations
  • Themes first
  • Contextual clues
  • Related non-fiction
  • Descriptive adjectives
  • A question

Make it concrete:

Images:

  • Pair words and images
  • keep images near the text
  • simple images
  • students drawing
  • appropriate clips

Graphs and diagrams

Drama: ‘…shed light on a moment in the play and develop it in great detail, not to act out a whole scene’ p40

Go intertextual:

  • Intertextual explanations: Scrooge and Birling are both businessmen…
  • Intertextual questions: Scrooge and Birling are both businessmen. What are the main differences..?
  • Intertextual tasks: Venn diagrams, comparison

Modelling reading (analysis):

“The goal of modelling reading, therefore, is to shine a light on implicit metacognitive processes processes so that feel simple and achievable” p46

Explode a quotation:

  • Circle key words
  • label literary devices – explain their effect
  • zoom in on one key word – effect
  • link to other scenes/quotations
  • historical context
  • ask a further question

Ask for verbal responses, list them, discuss their appropriateness, run with the best. p51

Retaining knowledge:

  • Pause lessons – quizzes, essays plans etc.
  • low stakes quizzes (5 a day etc.)
  • Online quizzes
  • Essay plans
  • Extended writing

Writing:

Neil Gaiman: “Parameters are the things you bounce of to create art” p80

“…make sure children know a lot about a topic before the start writing about it!” p83

Scaffolding:

  • Starter sentences
  • Shared writing
  • Class discussions and notes
  • Student examples

Modelling Writing:

“…working backwards from an excellent model and working forwards towards an excellent model.”

I do, we do, you do

WAGOLL / WABOLL

  • Think of your reader
  • Model short (sentence)
  • Model medium (paragraph)
  • Model long (exemplar whole texts)

Creating the right culture :

  • Set the ethos
  • Clear rules and sanctions
  • Benchmark brilliance
  • Bright spots (share high quality work) (visualiser)
  • Praise
  • Nudge
  • Consistency

Flow state:

  • Write regularly
  • Adopt a position
  • Map a path
  • Retreat or circulate
  • Interrupt wisely

Feedback:

  • Mark less, mark better
  • DIRT
  • Pupils edit first (STAR)
  • Live mark – highlighter / dot marking / circle / verbal
  • Spotlight (bright spot)
  • marking tips p144

TWR Principles:

  1. Students need explicit instruction in writing
  2. Sentences are the building blocks of all writing
  3. Embed writing instruction into the content of the curriculum
  4. The content of the curriculum drives the rigor of the writing instruction
  5. Grammar is best taught in the context of student writing
  6. The two most important phases of the writing process are planning and revising

Teaching Sentences:

  • compare and contrast sentences with sentence fragments Tybalt uses fragment as an insult.
  • Linguo bad grammar overload
  • Use the four types of sentences (statements, questions, exclamations and commands)
  • Develop questions
  • Use conjunctions to extend responses (because, but, so)
  • Use subordinating conjunctions to reflect written language structures (although, unless)
  • Insert appositives to describe a noun
  • Combine sentences
  • Expand a ‘kernel’ sentence (5 Ws & H)

Teaching Sentences:

  • compare and contrast sentences with sentence fragments Tybalt uses fragment as an insult.
  • Linguo bad grammar overload
  • Use the four types of sentences (statements, questions, exclamations and commands)
  • Develop questions
  • Use conjunctions to extend responses (because, but, so)
  • Use subordinating conjunctions to reflect written language structures (although, unless)
  • Insert appositives to describe a noun
  • Combine sentences
  • Expand a ‘kernel’ sentence (5 Ws & H)

More notes in the previous post

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Notes on ‘The Writing Revolution’

TWR Principles:

  1. Students need explicit instruction in writing
  2. Sentences are the building blocks of all writing
  3. Embed writing instruction into the content of the curriculum
  4. The content of the curriculum drives the rigor of the writing instruction
  5. Grammar is best taught in the context of student writing
  6. The two most important phases of the writing process are planning and revising

Sadler: sentences “are literally miniature compositions”

“When first introducing a strategy, it’s best to model an activity for the class and have students practice it orally as a group” p17 (Talk for Writing)

Importance of a Visualiser p18

Teaching Sentences:

  • compare and contrast sentences with sentence fragments Tybalt uses fragment as an insult.
  • Linguo bad grammar overload
  • Use the four types of sentences (statements, questions, exclamations and commands)
  • Develop questions
  • Use conjunctions to extend responses (because, but, so)
  • Use subordinating conjunctions to reflect written language structures (although, unless)
  • Insert appositives to describe a noun
  • Combine sentences
  • Expand a ‘kernel’ sentence (5 Ws & H)

Fragments VS. Sentences:

  1. Start by talking in fragments and asking the class to make them ‘whole’
  2. Then use content specific fragments and ask the class to make them whole
  3. Give a list of content specific fragments and sentences and ask the class to identify which is which. The class can then correct both the fragments and the sentences (the sentences will need capital letters and full stops)
  4. Write content specific passages that include fragments that need to be identified and corrected

Scrambled sentences: put the first word in bold to aid this. p32

Types of sentences:

  • Declarative (statement): the most common type of sentence
  • Imperative (command)
  • Interrogative (question)
  • Exclamtory (exclamation): expresses force or strong emotion
  1. Provide a list for students to identify
  2. Ask students to change statements into questions (and vice versa)
  3. Give specific criteria for a summary – a key word attached to a sentence type

Developing questions

  • Ask students to write a question or questions about an image
  • Ask students to write their own essay questions
  • What is the question to the given answer? (Jeopardy)

The power of Basic Conjunctions: Because, But and So

p40-42

  • The teacher was happy because we raised our hands
  • The teacher was happy but she still gave us homework
  • The teacher was happy so she gave us a longer recess (break)

Subordinating Conjunctions:

p43 – 46

Use sentence stems with subordinating conjunctions so the students have to develop their answers:

Although the Industrial Revolution was important…

Before the Industrial Revolution…

Since Lennie has a mild mental disability…

Appositives:

An appositive is a second noun or noun phrase or clause equivalent to a noun, that is placed beside another noun to explain it more fully. For example:

New York City, the largest city in the United States, is a major tourist attraction.

Sentence combining:

  • Nate took the subway every day
  • Nate did not like the subway
  • Nate needed to get to work

“Although Nate did not like the subway, he took it every day because he needed to get to work”

All of these activities could be a starter, mini-plenary or plenary

Expanding Sentences

p56 – 63

Use a kernel sentence and ask the students to expand with 5 Ws & H

For example: Jane ran.

  • Who
  • What
  • When: 7am
  • Where: park
  • Why: to get into shape
  • How

Show the students the expanded sentence:

At seven in the morning, Jane ran in the park because she wanted to get in shape

Now use a kernel sentence based in the content:

He was killed. 

 

Use sentence expansion with images too (maybe Macbeth with blood on his hands)

What is a paragraph?

A group of sentences about a specific point. To be effective, a paragraph must include:

  • Structure
  • Coherence (logically connected ideas)
  • Unity
  • Sentence skills

The writing process:

  1. Plan and outline
  2. draft
  3. Revise the draft (make word and sentence level changes)
  4. Edit the draft (correct mechanical errors)

Single Paragraph Outline

p83

  • Topic Sentence (TS)
  • Sequenced ideas or notes
  • Concluding sentence (CS)

Examples p85

Teaching the topic sentence:

  • A list of sentences – what is the topic sentence and what are the supporting details?
  • Adding to this – a list of sentences, one is the TS, the rest are details and one of them you can strike out for being irrelevant

What makes a good TS or CS?

  • Vary the sentence type – statement, question, exclamation, (maybe) a command
  • Include an appositive (second, ‘fuller’ noun)
  • Start with a subordinating conjunction (before, although, etc)

Start with a ‘kernel’  TS and ask students to write three new TS with each strategy p94 – 95

Another way to teach an SPO – turn a paragraph into a SPO – p99

Full checklist for an SPO:

  1. Identify the Topic, Audience, Purpose
  2. Mind map
  3. Write a Topic Sentence
  4. Select, categorize and sequence ideas
  5. Write notes for each idea
  6. Write a Concluding Sentence

Revising

When students are used to TWR strategies, you can ask them to apply these strategies to improving or revising paragraphs:

  • Improve TS and CS – (sentence types, appositive, subordinating conjunction)
  • 5 Ws & H
  • Vary vocabulary
  • Combine sentences
  • Give examples

T&L process to move from basic paragraphs to Independent Revision (in the sense of making changes to work):

  1. Improve a paragraph together on the board
  2. Improve a paragraph with student suggestions only
  3. Students improve a paragraph in pairs
  4. Students improve a basic paragraph independently first then feedback
  5. Students improve their own work then get teacher feedback
  6. Students make confident revisions to their own work.

Teach transition words (connectives/discourse markers?) p122 -123

Excellent example of how to scaffold a transition exercise p130

The GST process (I need to study this further):

p168

  1. General statement (the wider genre/environment/period of history)
  2. Specific statement (the topic you are focusing on)
  3. Thesis statement (your judgement that you will be backing up)

good examples p170

  • Give a G, S and T sentence and ask students to identify which is which
  • Give two and ask the student to write the third
  • Give a T sentence and have students work back from it.

Chapter 8: applying this to argue/persuade writing

What follows after is lots of good advice and resources on how to apply this method in your every day practice

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Notes on Making Every English Lesson Count

‘We each have to carve out our own teaching identity’

The principles:

  1. Challenge
  2. Explanation
  3. Modelling
  4. Deliberate practice
  5. Questioning
  6. Feedback

‘Real English teaching requires you to take the harder route’ p4

‘…young people absorb new words incrementally through multiple exposures to the word in slightly different contexts over time’ p5 (ref. E.D. Hirsch Why Knowledge Matters)

‘…direction, immersion and habit’ p5

‘…establish and maintain good working behaviours’ p6

‘…a child requires many forms of knowledge: of the writer’s life and times; of genre conventions and plot; of language devices and vocabulary; of themes and allusions.’ p11

How to chose a text:

  • Lexical challenge
  • Conversation of mankind
  • Literary conventions
  • Cultural capital

And then perhaps make a final choice between good options: ‘The throbbing heart of the English lesson should be the text itself’ p15

‘A ripple that, eventually, becomes a wave.’ p16

‘…it is far more effective to teach a range of critical interpretations than it is to tell students to make them up’ p19

Daniel Willingham: “Teaching content is teaching reading” p21

Teaching vocabulary:

Wittgenstein: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”

  • words should be taught in context
  • words should be taught with student friendly explanations
  • students need to see how words work in multiple contexts
  • students should practise using the words straight away
  • students should have multiple exposures to new words
  • teach two or three words a lesson
  • model your love of words
  • insist on precise vocabulary in discussion

Preparation/priming a class for a text:

  • Provide three quotations
  • Themes first
  • Contextual clues
  • Related non-fiction
  • Descriptive adjectives
  • A question

Questioning (p34-35)

Make it concrete:

Images:

  • Pair words and images
  • keep images near the text
  • simple images
  • students drawing
  • appropriate clips

Graphs and diagrams

Drama: ‘…shed light on a moment in the play and develop it in great detail, not to act out a whole scene’ p40

Go intertextual:

  • Intertextual explanations: Scrooge and Birling are both businessmen…
  • Intertextual questions: Scrooge and Birling are both businessmen. What are the main differences..?
  • Intertextual tasks: Venn diagrams, comparison

Modelling reading (analysis):

“The goal of modelling reading, therefore, is to shine a light on implicit metacognitive processes processes so that feel simple and achievable” p46

Explode a quotation:

  • Circle key words
  • label literary devices – explain their effect
  • zoom in on one key word – effect
  • link to other scenes/quotations
  • historical context
  • ask a further question

Ask for verbal responses, list them, discuss their appropriateness, run with the best. p51

Sentence stems

Read out loud

Practising reading

Read alone/shared reading

Question templates – p68-71

Retaining knowledge:

  • Pause lessons – quizzes, essays plans etc.
  • low stakes quizzes (5 a day etc.)
  • Online quizzes
  • Essay plans
  • Extended writing

Writing:

Neil Gaiman: “Parameters are the things you bounce of to create art” p80

“…make sure children know a lot about a topic before the start writing about it!” p83

Scaffolding:

  • Starter sentences
  • Shared writing
  • Class discussions and notes
  • Student examples

Rhetoric p88-90

Grammar – talk in the language of grammar and teach grammar in context

Great example of how to teach the correct use of the semi colon p98-99

Spelling memory cues p100

Writing success criteria: not too many and have both the official criteria and your own student friendly rules or targets p102

Modelling Writing:

“…working backwards from an excellent model and working forwards towards an excellent model.”

I do, we do, you do

WAGOLL / WABOLL

  • Think of your reader
  • Model short (sentence)
  • Model medium (paragraph)
  • Model long (exemplar whole texts)

Creating the right culture :

  • Set the ethos
  • Clear rules and sanctions
  • Benchmark brilliance
  • Bright spots (share high quality work) (visualiser)
  • Praise
  • Nudge
  • Consistency

Flow state:

  • Write regularly
  • Adopt a position
  • Map a path
  • Retreat or circulate
  • Interrupt wisely

Scaffolding:

  • tight parameters
  • tick lists
  • sentence starters
  • key words
  • discussion

‘…independent writing is a destination, not a teaching strategy in its own right” p133

Feedback:

  • Mark less, mark better
  • DIRT
  • Pupils edit first (STAR)
  • Live mark – highlighter / dot marking / circle / verbal
  • Spotlight (bright spot)
  • marking tips p144

 

 

 

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The Three Rs: Resources, Reading & Reflection

Over the summer I have read some very useful texts and scoured Twitter in order to find effective methods for improving Literacy. I wanted to share my thoughts on what I have found in order to bring it together and perhaps help others looking to find similar strategies.

Resources:

I wanted to start with this section so that the resources can be accessed quickly:

Pupil Premium 

A few of the resources created in collaboration with my colleagues:

Can I also draw attention to some websites with excellent resources:

Memorising quotations: 

There are other great websites out there, these are just sites I accessed recently (the bibliography contains several links).

Reading:

Shakespeare on Toast

This book was recommended to me on Twitter by @evenbetterif. Shakespeare on Toast is an excellent discussion of all the relevant elements of a Shakespeare play & I would thoroughly recommend it, particularly if you are teaching Macbeth.

Don’t Call it Literacy!

I found this book to be really helpful in bringing my thoughts together in a coherent way. Barton writes in a concise and reflective way that is engaging and helpful. If you are unsure where to start, I would recommend this book first.

Reading Reconsidered

This is an extraordinary piece of pedagogical research. I would recommend this book to all Teachers of English, both new and experienced. My understanding is that Lemov, Driggs & Woolway sought to scientifically examine that practice of excellent classroom practitioners in order to codify the many elements of teaching English. There were several practical ideas that I will discuss later, but the main principle I took from the text is that as a teacher, you need to make the implicit explicit. I think that several experienced Teachers have discussed this principle and I think it has informed much of my thinking this summer.

The Literacy Leader’s Toolkit

This book lives up to its title. Tyrer & Taylor have written a practical guide that explains effective strategies and provides a timeline in which to implement them. Although I am not a whole school literacy coordinator, there were ideas that can be implemented within the English Department and perhaps suggested for whole school.

Talk 4 Writing in Secondary Schools

I found that this approach really challenged my thinking. I don’t know if I will implement the entire Talk 4 Writing approach in my classroom, but there are several key ideas discussed by Strong around creating templates or blueprints for texts types that I find fascinating.

Reflection

I definitely need to return to some (if not all) of these texts as there is so much to take from them. However, there are a few practical strategies that I wish to put forward:

  • Quality First Teaching – Make sure that every teacher feels able to deliver the best lessons possible in a culture of both high expectations and support (what we want for the pupils too!)
  • Making the implicit explicit:
  • speak your thoughts aloud; speak clearly and with a sophisticated vocabulary; read clearly and with expression; write with the students; revise ‘live’; ask the questions you really want to ask; don’t be satisfied with simple answers; make feedback timely and useful.
  • Make sure that pupils are acting on marking in some way (DIRT)
  • I would strongly encourage all teachers to request a Visualiser; you can show a good piece of work to the class, mark a piece of work with the class, annotate a text with the class and show different drafts of the same piece of work throughout a lesson. There are other uses for a Visualiser, however the four strategies I have mentioned are the ones I use most often.
  •  Talk for Writing approachI am particularly interested in boxed up exemplars, blown up to A3, annotated in pairs for the following:
  • Connectives
  • Useful phrases (raid the reading)
  • Technical terms
  • Maybe you could say ‘CUT it up’

    Pupils then use these exemplars to create their own ‘blueprint’ for a text. The teacher and the pupil can then create a new text together based on the ‘blueprint’, then finally the pupil creates their own text independently.

  • One final useful phrase could be DOT: Dictionary or Thesaurus. A teacher could call out ‘DOT’ when an unusual (tier 2?) word comes up in a text and pupils would react by looking at the dictionary or thesaurus on their desk for the meaning.
  • There are dozens of strategies in Reading Reconsidered, this chart is a good place to start, created by @TeacherTrying on Twitter.
  • Front the writing – instead of discussing questions, ask pupils to Stop, Jot & Learn first, then discuss, in order to check for understanding and pupils build independence. This is a rough idea of a lesson sequence.
  • When using worksheets, use text boxes, DARTS & gloss words to allow pupils to engage
  • Develop further links with Feeder Primary Schools and try and have an exemplar piece of work travel with the pupil from Year Six to Year Seven.
  • Literacy ambassadors: reward pupils that are good writers and ask them to seek out good writing from other pupils; teacher and literacy ambassadors run assemblies about good writing; ambassadors mentor weaker pupils on their writing

As I said earlier, there are many more strategies and ideas in the books I have mentioned, these are just some key strategies that I think I can use and will benefit the pupils in my school. I hope that this has been a helpful post.

 

 

 

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Reflection on Teaching Backwards INSET

This INSET was held at Reigate Baptist Church on Friday the 12th February, as a collaborative event between Reigate School, The Warwick & Oakwood (three Secondary Schools in Surrey).

Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude and admiration for the presenter, Andy Griffith @OTeaching. I found his style to be engaging, thought provoking and enjoyable. Mr. Griffith used the sessions to model great teaching and I think this was one of the most valuable parts of the INSET.

In terms of the sessions, I would say that the first session was the most important for me personally. I have known for a long time that setting and keeping high expectations for students’ work has always been my weak point.

The presentation used a mixture of humour, practical examples and a reflective checklist in order to emphasise the importance of establishing and maintaining high expectations.

I have photocopied the ‘Step 1 Checklist’ as it has been heavily annotated! Underneath the checklist there are two sentence stems, the first saying ‘I need to stop…’ and the second ‘I need to start’. I have filled these out in detail with plans for two of my groups that need to have their expectations raised.

The main practical strategy that I will take from the day will be to create an ‘effort scale’ that can be personalised by each of the students.

The following sessions were a pleasing combination of principles that I recognised in my own practice and ideas that I was unfamiliar with. I found the topic planner useful and I will try to incorporate elements of it when planning future SOW.

I have a couple of final thoughts to do with the day itself (this is not as relevant to the course in question). As there were three schools involved we were sat at tables that combined staff from each school. This was to encourage discussion and collaboration. I believe there was some limited success to this, Mr. Griffith did try to encourage collaboration, however I feel like this process needs further development. I think perhaps if there had been more group tasks as a table, as opposed to pairs, this may have been beneficial.

I would highly recommend this training to other schools and I have definitely benefited from it.

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First half term: how did I do?

Below is copied text from a post I wrote in the summer. I am going to self assess on each of these targets:

Personal reflection

Balance

The pupils in my classes need me to be rested and calm and collected so that they get the best from me. Therefore, I need to ensure that I sleep well, read for pleasure, exercise and manage my workload. – I am doing reasonably well at this, however I must try not let this slip towards the end of term.

Behaviour management

This has always been the weakest area of my practice and I will be making a concerted effort to improve this. I will be taking the following steps:

Higher initial expectations of behaviour in the classroom – This could definitely be better

A calm and consistent response to disruptive behaviour – Perhaps the target I have met most convincingly and the one I am most proud of – I have stayed calm and controlled even when confronted by some very negative behaviour

Use of SIMS to record sanctions – Getting better

The biggest challenges for me will be to instil higher expectations in my middle ability Year Eleven class and to ensure that I stick to the above routines with them and with my incoming middle ability Year Ten Class. – I have been successful with my year ten but year eleven are proving very tough, probably as I did not start well with them

Marking and Feedback

I am determined that my marking has as much impact as possible. I do not want pupils just to glance at their book simply to check it has been marked. I will therefore ensure that I am consistent with the following:

Pupils instructed to leave significant space for feedback underneath their work – Not met yet

legible, specific, differentiated marking – so that pupils can read and understand both WWW and EBI. – Getting better

Directed Improvement and Reflection Time – I didn’t carry this through last year and I think it is crucial – this can be done with purple pen – Much better and it is having an impact

Peer Assessment – This will be modelled multiple times and will firstly involve highlighting the best line/paragraph in a piece of work and the line/paragraph that needs most improvement, progressing to pupils using specific success criteria in the same way that I would. – Much more work needed on this

Lesson planning

With every lesson I need to ask:

What do I want the class to have learned by the end of this lesson?
(learning objectives/outcomes/learning arrow/all/most/some) – Could be clearer

How can I connect the lesson to previous learning?  (starter/key words) – Starters have been a strength for a while now

How will I check their understanding?  (mini plenary/plenary) – This needs to be more consistent

What are the needs of specific learners in the class and how can I meet them?
(PP/SEN/G&T/what I have learned about them) – Differentiation is a strength.

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The Lords

It is an interesting debate; on the one hand the Lords is an unelected chamber, on the other hand the Tories stated explicitly that working tax credit wouldn’t be cut (Cameron even stood up, Westlife style, to emphasise his point). Also, it will be interesting to find out why the Tories packaged the bill in the way that it did, because, as I understand it, the bill could have been exempted from a vote in the Lords as a strictly financial measure. Instead it was a ‘statutory instrument’, a classification which seems perfectly placed to invite conflict with the Lords. Do the Tories now regret reforms that have lead to a greater number of Labour and Lib Dem peers? I doubt that they have invited this conflict as part of a radical belief in true democracy.

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