Poetry 1: Key Principles

Poetry is the music of language. It is the most condensed, perfect form because the writer has compressed all meaning, emotion and expression into the most concise finished product possible. Every line, every word, every sound has some potential gold to be mined by our students. However, poetry is difficult to teach because: Poems areContinue reading “Poetry 1: Key Principles”

Quotation Revision and Confidence!

I am a big proponent of learning quotations by rote. If students can memorise albums full of song lyrics, they can learn quotations! My students have been explicitly learning quotations throughout their GCSE course, but they still suffer from a lack of confidence when it comes to feeling like they really know their texts. IContinue reading “Quotation Revision and Confidence!”

Unseen Poetry Without the Stress…

Unseen poetry is stressful. We feel that it is never given enough time (because there are fifteen anthology poems to teach) and students struggle with confidence because the texts will be unfamilar to them. Coupled with this, the independent reading of poetry requires students to posess a certain degree of cultural capital; literature is filledContinue reading “Unseen Poetry Without the Stress…”

Call me a ‘ball-breaker’ one more time…

This is a re-post of a blog I wrote for WomenEd in February 2019. A couple of years ago, a male colleague introduced me to someone as a ‘ball-breaker’. He looked at me and smiled, clearly intending this as a compliment, and went on to make a joke about how even he was a littleContinue reading “Call me a ‘ball-breaker’ one more time…”

Wellbeing: the subtle art of saying “no”; saying “not yet”, and asking the right questions…

Reading time: 5 minutes As the dark winter months close in around us, I am seeing a lot more in my Twitter feed about wellbeing and people who are seriously struggling with very challenging work environments. I have been a teacher for 10 years. My first 5 years were spent working in the wrong way;Continue reading “Wellbeing: the subtle art of saying “no”; saying “not yet”, and asking the right questions…”

Words of the Week: what we do…

Reading time: 5 mins All the resources for the year 2018-19 are below. The resources for 2019-20 are at this website: https://mysparkwords.com/work  We’ve all seen ‘Word of the Week’ used in schools. On the surface, they can seem a little superficial; how can one word per week really make a dent in the vocabulary deficitContinue reading “Words of the Week: what we do…”

Challenge for All: #PracPed18

This is a write up of my talk from Practical Pedagogies in Cologne, November 2018. ‘Unapologetically ambitious, unashamedly academic’ This is the mantra I share with my students at the start of every academic year, and it’s something we return to when we need a boost. I am currently teaching in the same community whereContinue reading “Challenge for All: #PracPed18”

Seven ways I’ve kicked my homework habit…

In ten years of teaching, I am embarrassed to say, I have never managed to do homework right. It has always felt like an extra thing; to plan, to remember, to take in, to mark and to cause friction between myself and my students. Growing up, I also remember some homework tasks at school whichContinue reading “Seven ways I’ve kicked my homework habit…”

Memory and Recall: Practical Strategies for a Linear World

This post is based on my talk at ‘Teaching and Learning Leeds: Encouraging the Leader Within’ on 23rd June 2018. Teaching is fundamentally about making the best possible use of the human brain and helping students to use theirs to their fullest potential. Why then, is there so little focus on how the brain works inContinue reading “Memory and Recall: Practical Strategies for a Linear World”