What are we reading for? A helpful list for students…

When we teach literature, what is it for? Critical reading, analysis, exploration and appreciation of the writer’s craft… In my heart I know that literature is broad and beautiful but, very often, particularly when preparing exam classes, I get too focused on the product. That is, the essay: a series of nice, tidy paragraphs whichContinue reading “What are we reading for? A helpful list for students…”

‘Hollow’ by Vanessa Kisuule

This astonishing poem was written by Vanessa Kisuule, the Bristol City Poet, in June 2020 in response to the destruction of the statue of Edward Colston, a slaver. His entire fortune was built on the systematic enslavement, murder and rape of enslaved Africans. Kisuule has generously given her permission for anyone to use the poemContinue reading “‘Hollow’ by Vanessa Kisuule”

Zero Written Feedback: a trial

FACT: Many schools still have blanket marking and feedback policies which dictate frequency and form of marking, e.g. one mark every four lessons, with a comment on progress and two DIRT tasks (just an example) OPINION: One-size-fits-all policies prevent us from doing what matters most for students in each subject. Academic subjects are distinct disciplinesContinue reading “Zero Written Feedback: a trial”

Poetry 2: Knowledge and Revision

The poetry anthology is a difficult challenge for revision because there are so many moving parts and it’s difficult to know what to prioritise. I’ve had lots of people asking for advice in the past week or so, wanting things which are going to be ‘engaging’ and ‘new’ for students. The problem with this isContinue reading “Poetry 2: Knowledge and Revision”

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…”

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…”

Bird’s-eye View: GCSE top grade statements and evaluation…

This is a resource I have developed for my Y11 class. It is meant to support them in making evaluative comments about texts (looking at them from a bird’s-eye view), and exploring overall text structure. The idea is that it allows students to construct strong opening statements, and also gives them prompts to consider theContinue reading “Bird’s-eye View: GCSE top grade statements and evaluation…”

27 English reading and analysis resources which work!

The creativity and generosity of the online teaching community never ceases to amaze me. I have spent a couple of weeks collating resources for my department from my Twitter back catalogue, and was blown away by how long the list was. Years of communication with fellow educators has given me a huge collection of ideas and resources, someContinue reading “27 English reading and analysis resources which work!”