#TMBrad – Teachmeet reflection..

I am always amazed by the dedication and sheer geekery of some teachers. At 10am on Saturday 11th July (the FINAL weekend of the school term), teachers from around Leeds and Bradford (plus, you know, Bahrain, just because…) descended on Appleton Academy for a day of inspiration and all round teacher banter.

The day was part of our project called ‘Writing for Bradford’ which you can see details about here.

TMBradContinue reading “#TMBrad – Teachmeet reflection..”

A New Project – Writing for Bradford

This summer, my school (Appleton Academy) will be hosting an exciting project to promote writing in Bradford schools. It will involve working collaboratively with professional writers, spoken word artists, academics, university students and teachers. The project is open to any interested schools in the Bradford/West Yorkshire area. Please see the information in this document: Writing Bradford leaflet

If you are interested in being involved, or would like more information, please contact me on my work email: jennifer.webb@appletonacademy.co.uk or on Twitter @funkypedagogy

A Level Literature Ideas – #3: Mood Boards

Literature at A Level has traditionally been a very essay driven course; there are very few specifications which allow any element of creative writing, and even these are optional swap-ins for a potential second essay. This is a shame because students need to be able to appreciate the craft of the writer and have a deeply ingrained sense that someone sat down and wrote something for a reason. The specification I am teaching allows students to create a piece of original transformational writing. The idea is that they study one of their set texts, then write a ‘missing’ scene, chapter, monologue etc. Obviously this allows students to get under the skin of a particular character or idea, and to better appreciate the author’s style and craft because they are no longer just passively observing, they are actively creating.Continue reading “A Level Literature Ideas – #3: Mood Boards”

A Level Literature Ideas – #2: Essay Planning

The key to all good writing is shape; when to be broad and when to be narrow, when to charge ahead and when to circle back. In a previous post I described how a good essay introduction is like an upside triangle, or arrowhead pointing the reader to a strong argument. A successful essay must be launched by this ‘arrowhead’, then explore and circle around a range of ideas, while still sticking to a firm thread, or thesis. When I was an NQT, I developed the system below by drawing out the shape I wanted by hand. It has evolved into the resource you see below, and revolutionised the way I teach essay writing.Continue reading “A Level Literature Ideas – #2: Essay Planning”

A Level Literature Ideas – #1: Writing Introductions

Introductions and conclusions always seem like quite abstract things, threatening to book end an essay with vague statements and ‘summing up’. However, done right, an introduction serves as the perfect vanguard of a well crafted argument.

There are tons of different ways to teach introduction writing, but the most successful in my experience is ‘Discuss, Define, Refine’ (DDR). Here is a brief outline:

Discuss: Introduce the key terms of the question, showing that you are fully aware of the given theme/issue/area. Often constitutes a simple re-wording of the question. e.g. “Madness is a topic which clearly fascinates writers across all of literature.”Continue reading “A Level Literature Ideas – #1: Writing Introductions”

Vocabulary Project: Part 2 – technical terminology for high ability learners

When we were initially trained on vocabulary teaching by Jane Dallas, she separated words out into three classes.

1. Everyday words you need to communicate simple things (mum, dad, tree…)
2. More complex words used to add meaning or nuance (disgusting, harrowing, protective…)
3. Technical vocabulary linked to specific subjects (onomatopoeia, synthesis, semiquaver…)

Jane’s training, mainly centred around primary students, focused on developing students’ use of class 2 words. While the class 2 words are very important, it became very clear to my colleagues, particularly those in maths and science, that for secondary teaching, most of our key vocabulary is made up of words from class 3. I have, therefore, been working over the last half term, on a range of strategies for teaching class 3 words.Continue reading “Vocabulary Project: Part 2 – technical terminology for high ability learners”

Apparently, I will do anything for a nice pen…

When I was approached by @Pen_Heaven about the #backtobasics challenge, I’ll be honest, at the words, “we will send you a free fountain pen”, I was pretty much sold. Abiding closely to the girly, female English teacher stereotype, I am a lover of all things stationery, and have wasted a LOT of time drooling over things in Paperchase which I literally cannot live without.

I am dyslexic, and have always struggled with my own handwriting. For years students have found my scrawl difficult to read, and so over the summer holidays this year, I tasked myself with re-training myself to write so that my script is both legible and vaguely attractive. Switching to a good quality fountain pen over the last week has noticeably accelerated my progress, making my script more fluent and smooth.Continue reading “Apparently, I will do anything for a nice pen…”

Vocabulary Project: Part 1- Rationale and Launch #appletonacademy

To an English teacher, words are everything. Put in the right order, they have immense power to move us, fascinate us, make us laugh and teach us. Words excite and entertain me, but as someone who has always loved to read and felt able to express myself with an ever expanding vocabulary, sometimes I am at risk of forgetting how words (or lack thereof) can create barriers and instil fear in some of my students. Revered journalist, William Raspberry said, “Good English, well spoken and well written, will open more doors than a college degree… Bad English will slam doors you never even knew existed.” While there are many things which contribute to overall “good English”, vocabulary is arguably one of the most vital components in your arsenal. A wide vocabulary can enable a speaker to be succinct, precise and sophisticated, while a narrow vocabulary can lead to vague expression, waffle and frustration.Continue reading “Vocabulary Project: Part 1- Rationale and Launch #appletonacademy”

Five displays which work…

If there has been one pattern in my teaching career, it has been the slow realisation that nothing is worth doing unless it can answer ‘yes’ to two questions:

1) Can it be re-used, and/or integrated into a regular part of my practice?
2) Will it make students active, rather than passive participants in their own learning?

1) We spend so much time creating resources and setting up activities that we need to be discerning about the things we spend our precious time on. I never spend time making something unless I am going to laminate or cover it with sticky-back plastic, and bring out again or refer to it on a regular basis.Continue reading “Five displays which work…”