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…”

Knowledge and Skill Audits: know your team

Getting started in September with Y11 is always a challenge, even if they have been your class in Y10 and they’ve had a really consistent diet. Throw in a global pandemic, months of home learning (or not-learning), uncertainty and possible trauma for some, and things become very complicated indeed. Forgive me for using an obscureContinue reading “Knowledge and Skill Audits: know your team”

‘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”

Language and Power

The brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25th May this year has sparked an outpouring of grief and anger which has reverberated around the world. Racism and the power structures which dictate our lives have always been there, but lockdown means that there is nowhere to hide – people cannot ignore what theyContinue reading “Language and Power”

Write like a… short story writer

This is a short extract from my new book, Teach Like A Writer. Here, Jacob Ross talks us through his classification system for types of short story. I’ve turned this system into a simple visual which I’ve used with my classes to help them to identify story features – you can download this at theContinue reading “Write like a… short story writer”

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”

Storming the Citadel: a quest for cultural capital

This blog is based on a talk I gave at ‘Teaching and Learning Leeds 2019’ hosted by the Grammar School at Leeds on Saturday 22nd June. Why is language vital? What is Cultural Capital? Who decides what ‘culture’ is? What does it mean to be ‘culturally poor’ How can we redress the balance? Culture, culturalContinue reading “Storming the Citadel: a quest for cultural capital”

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!”