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, some of which I use regularly, and some which I had forgotten about entirely. In an attempt to bring some order to the chaos, I have started with some reading and analysis resources. All of these resources were created by teachers, and shared online – you can see the creators’ details below in case you want to follow anything up with these very talented people.

Though I’ve collected them here for English resources, most can be very easily adapted to other subjects and disciplines. Continue reading “27 English reading and analysis resources which work!”

What I have learned as a pregnant teacher…

Pregnancy is a wonderful thing which, for us, did not come easily. As a new head of department, it has been an especially difficult time for me; balancing the stresses of exam preparation, coursework and leadership with the very profound concerns of becoming a first time parent is pretty overwhelming. I am constantly trying to reconcile my anxieties and neuroses with my happiness and excitement. I firmly believe that open and honest reflection makes us better in all
aspects of life, and I hope that this post might shine some light on this crazy journey so that other expectant mums in the teaching world might feel slightly less alone. It really is an incredible time, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it is also scary, isolating and unpredictable.

Pregnancy is hard. Probably the hardest thing I have ever done (and I still have two months to go!!!). Your body takes over and no amount of planning, reading or preparation can change the fact that you are no longer the master of your own destiny. This is a scary thing if you’re a control freak like me. Continue reading “What I have learned as a pregnant teacher…”

The Dyslexic English Teacher

dyslexic_fun_bigIt was only after I had got through GCSEs, A Levels, an English Degree and my PGCE year that I discovered I am dyslexic. My particular brand of dyslexia manifests itself in letter, number and colour recognition. In other words, I misread words, struggle to recognise spelling errors (including my own), read more slowly than average, and have struggled for years with my handwriting. The fact that I am an English teacher just adds to the fun. Continue reading “The Dyslexic English Teacher”

Walking-Talking Mock Exams

Many of you will know how these work and, whether you love them or hate them, they are an invaluable tool in the journey to exams for students across the spectrum.

We used them last year in the run up to exam prep in English, and students reported an increased confidence level and, in some exams, performed very highly because they were used to the format and had been “drilled” in the process.

For anyone who doesn’t know how these work, they generally follow these rules:

  • Students sit in the same exam room where they will do their exam, preferably in the same seats
  • Students are given an exam paper which is as close to being like the real thing as possible (i.e. exam writing booklet if relevant)
  • Students are literally walked through every question on the paper – the person leading the session talks them through the smallest steps, such as underlining key words, how to plan, things to remember etc.
  • Students then write their responses in timed conditions

Continue reading “Walking-Talking Mock Exams”

iGCSE Examiner Report Analysis

In Summer 2015, a lot of schools suffered from what was a very sudden and unexpected shift in the way the Cambridge iGCSE English exam was marked. In September 2015 I wrote this analysis of the exam, using the examiner report from the June 2015 series plus what we could glean from some of the papers we recalled for our centre. Hopefully this is of use to other English departments in the next few weeks!

iGCSE Examiners Report – Analysis for teaching 2015/16

In the Summer 2015 series, there were significant changes in emphasis to the way in which the iGCSE English paper was marked.

Q1:

Pupil responses were expected to be “tethered” to the source text, but were penalised if they stuck to it too closely in terms of structure, language or detail. Continue reading “iGCSE Examiner Report Analysis”

Things I wish I’d known before my first week in teaching…

I am just about to start my sixth year as a teacher, and was having a chat with a family friend who is about to start his NQT year. As he picked my brains over coffee and told me all of the things he was worrying about already, I realised how much I wish I’d known when I had started five years ago. This is pretty simple stuff, but is not intended to be patronising –  in my first week on the job, I struggled to see past my own fear and focus on the things I could control. I hope some of these ideas are useful…

The first week – no need for bells and whistles:

Scott-660x330Don’t dwell too much on overly complicated lessons with 8 parts and all-singing, all-dancing resources. There is no way you’ll get through what you think you will, and you will exhaust yourself with planning before you even start. Just make sure that each first lesson with a new class is solid, and that you give them a chance to get to know you and what you expect in your classroom. Continue reading “Things I wish I’d known before my first week in teaching…”

What I’ve learned from spending a year in the right school…

Young teachers are leaving our profession in droves; between 40-50% have left the classroom by their fifth year. I am just finishing my fifth year in teaching and, despite some monumental challenges over the past 12 months, I am loving my job. I hope this doesn’t come across as a sickening, self-congratulatory blog about how much I love my job, and I am not expecting a pat on the back; I just wonder whether my experience this year could help those 40-50% who are on the edge and struggling to find their motivation again. Continue reading “What I’ve learned from spending a year in the right school…”