A list of articles that are worth a read, broken down into vague categories and otherwise in no particular order:
How do we create meaningful conversations? – MrHistoire.com – Much more than a post on discussion or questioning, this contains a detailed discussion of what clear, organised and effective teaching looks like.
Using Threshold Concepts to design a KS4 English curriculum – The Learning Spy – On how to combine working towards understanding a series of ‘threshold concepts’ about our subject with a knowledge-focused curriculum.
Deliberately difficult – why it’s better to make learning harder – The Learning Spy – On how introducing desirable difficulties into your teaching and curriculum (spacing, interleaving, regular testing, and measures to encourage cognition) improves learning over time.
Redesigning a curriculum – The Learning Spy – On how curriculum design needs to focus on building cultural capital, a thorough understanding of grammar and be based on cognitive principles of spacing, interleaving and testing.
What to know: the importance of cultural capital – The Learning Spy – On the importance of building cultural capital; how improving cultural capital is a virtuous circle: it builds readers who are more able to improve their own.
Principled curriculum design – The Learning Spy – On the importance of an English curriculum teaching cultural capital and grammar, but also that we teach towards a series of threshold concepts, using interleaving and spacing to blend reading and writing.
What makes a great school curriculum? – Pragmatic Education – A fantastic, detailed and though provoking discussion of how to plan and sequence a curriculum that teaches the best of our shared intercultural heritage. Mindblowing.
How to plan a knowledge unit – Pragmatic Education – On how to plan a unit that focuses in narrowly on the key knowledge that you want students to acquire.
What can we learn from Michel Thomas – Pragmatic Education – On how to select, structure and efficiently teach all, and only, the most important concepts you want students to learn. Relates closely to direct instruction.
A New English Curriculum – Reflecting English – On designing a curriculum with both a cultural capital and engagement focused approach. Students should find similarities between classic texts and modern texts by hanging this off an understanding of ‘The Seven Basic Plots.’
Knowledge Organisers – Pragmatic Education – On how teachers should refine all the knowledge they are going to teach for a unit onto a single sheet of paper in advance, using this to plan, teach and assess their students.
A 5-year revision plan – Pragmatic Education – A fantastic idea to replace traditional homework: students self-quiz on their knowledge organisers (see above). Simple to run, effective, reduces teacher workload. What’s not to like?
Now is the time for English curriculum redesign – Must Do Better… – On designing an English curriculum to build cultural capital and ensure that all students are able to express themselves coherently in writing.
Planning for mastery – Reading All the Books – On how to share ideas on planning for mastery as part of an in-school CPD session.
One scientific insight for curriculum design – On how to employ the principles of regular quizzing and cumulative testing to improve curriculum design.
The Learning Loop – The Learning Spy – How should we structure lessons for maximum learning? Revisit new learning, 2) New knowledge, 3) Modelling, 4) Guided practice, 5) Feedback, 6) Independent practice, 7) Feedback – Repeat!
What can we learn from direct instruction & Seigfried Engelmann? – Pragmatic Education – A useful introduction to the ideas involved within direct instruction.
How best to teach: knowledge-led or skills-led lessons? – Pragmatic Education – An argument for knowledge-based over skills based teaching.
Memory Platforms – Reflecting English – On how using a memory platform (6 retrieval questions, ranging over previous lessons) can improve students’ ability to remember and connect learning.
On repetition – Mr Histoire – An interesting post on how to structure your teaching so that students become adept at arranging the facts in different ways: Learn; Test; Repeat; Test and so on…
Something we do – Differentiation – JLMFL – An excellent post on why everything we learnt at teacher training on how to differentiate is a load of old ********.
Teacher Instruction – Reading all the books – Great set of clips about why, contrary to everything I learnt during teacher training, teacher delivered instruction really is the best way to learn.
Master Learning Handbook – Reading All the Books – Really useful guidebook, summarising blogs and evidence about mastery, and giving lesson planning and teaching tips.
Why ‘mastery learning’ might prove to be a bad idea – Learning Spy – Thought provoking argument that mastery learning might be another meaningless education ‘weasel word’.
Is questioning yet another cult – MrHistoire.com – Questions whether questioning really is the all-important teaching techniue it is cracked up to be. Suggests an alternative, in which students discuss mutually compatible answers to the same question.
On Statements – Toby French – Similar to the above post, and by the same author, on how using statements rather than questions might be a better way to build meaningful discussions.
Questions about Questioning: How important is it? – The Learning Spy – Didau questioning the teaching dogma that questioning is a vitally important part of teaching.
Should we use questions to teach? Part 1 – …to the real – Kris Boulton also questioning, perhaps in more explicit terms, the idea that questioning has learning utility.
Should we use questions to teach? Part 2 – …to the real – Is it always better to question rather than simply explain? Er…. No.
Wasting Time on Silly Questions – Must Do Better… – Useful article about which questions are simply time wasting devices.
Don’t Just Talk At Them – Spin a ripping yarn – TES Magazine – A guide to using narrative structures and organisational devices to improve teacher explanations
Spinning a pedagogical yarn: the role of storytelling in the classroom – Classteaching – A guide on how to improve the effectiveness of teacher explanations.
Classroom Discussion / Building good ‘Habits of Discussion
Reclaiming Rhetoric – Pragmatic Education – A persuasive argument for the inclusion, and thorough teaching of, rhetoric in English education.
Thinking like a writer -The Learning Spy – On how to ensure that students develop the meta-cognitive tools to think about their own writing like experts.
Teaching Vocabulary – A whole schools approach – Must Do Better – A discussion of the best methods for teaching tier 3, subject specific vocabulary, to students.
Why and how we should teach grammar – The Wing to Heaven – An argument that students should have some comprehensive grammar teaching as a basis to, well, pretty much everything else.
Teaching and Learning the Literary Canon – Hunting English – On why teaching the greats, alongside texts that they’ve inspired, is the right way to go.
How should we read texts in lessons – Tabula Rasa – On how to engage in efficient and productive whole class reading, with excellent links to further reading.
Active Practice: The Key to Vocabulary – Doug Lemov’s Field Notes – A fantastic guide to highly effective vocabulary teaching. I wish I had read this years ago.
Mr Benn and the Anatomy of Writing – Must Do Better… – An argument for the teaching of the ‘deep structures that underpin academic discourse’. A must read!
The poetry dilemma: to teach or to elicit – Reflecting English – Useful post on how to teach poetry.
My favourite question: ‘What do you not understand?’ – Reflecting English – How to make teaching responsive to wildly different student knowledge banks? Simple. Ask the above question.
William Boyd: ‘I can only manage three hours before writing fatigue sets in.’ – The Guardian – Not pedagogy based, but a nice article for illustrating the importance of drafting and editing all the same.
What’s in a word – Must do better… – On the importance of a rigorous approach to teaching and assessing tier 3 subject vocabulary.
Paragraph pairs – The Goldfish Bowl – On how to teach students to structure their paragraphs
Grammar and the Art of Writing – Tabula Rasa –On Michaela’s approach to grammar teaching: invaluable!
Teaching Vocabulary – Reading all the Books – On the importance of explicit vocabulary teaching.
Tell me why I love Fridays – Learning from my mistakes – A really interesting approach to teaching writing!
How to design multiple-choice questions – Pragmatic Education – On how to design MPQs for rigour and depth, using them to test for learning and point out misconceptions.
Low stakes testing, and lots of it – Toby French – a brief post on different ways of testing students and why this is useful.
How to get assessment wrong – The Learning spy – Does what it says on the tin: how not to assess in a post-levels world.
7 questions you should ask about any new ‘post levels’ assessment scheme – Ramblings of a Teacher – A checklist of questions to check that a whole school assessment scheme is adequate.
Assignments: Assessment and Achievement. Is this the answer? – Headguruteacher – Exploring the idea of using assigment tasks for each unit to assess student progress.
Life after levels. Who’ll create a mastery system – Pragmatic Education – Explaining and exploring the idea of mastery based assessment, including the fascinating idea of cumulative assessments: testing the current unit and each previous one.
The Elements of Language: what we are using in place of levels – Must Do Better… – An excellent post on building a reading and writing criteria that not only replaces levels but provides a clear guide for teachers on what to teach.
The Elements of Language Revisted – Must Do Better… –Reflections and improvements on the above post. I particularly like the threshold concepts and their links to AOs here.
How could assessment & accountability unshackle schools? – Pragmatic Education – An argument that schools need to bite the bullet, stop flogging the dead horse of APP grids and ability labeling and move towards mastery assessment.
Problems with Performance Descriptors – Wing to Heaven – On why using performance descriptors is at best pointless and at worse, harmful. What to do instead though?
Is it possible to get assessment right? – The Learning Spy – A set of assessments plotted against a series of English threshold concepts. Read in conjunction with the post below…
Assessment is difficult, but it is not mysterious – Wing to Heaven – On why we should not use performance descriptors to assess learning.
Comparative Judgement: 21st Century Assessment -The Wing to Heaven – On how ranking assessments against each other is a far preferable method of assessment than using rubrics.
Research on multiple choice questions – The Wing to Heaven – Contains useful information and links on how to design effective MCQs.
KS3 Assessment. 8 Steps towards a workable system – Headguruteacher – A presentation of the key ideas behind Tom Sherrington’s new assessment system.
Why we’ve got planning and marking all wrong (Part 1) – Ramblings Of a Teacher – On why comment marking in books is a waste of time.
Marking is a hornet – Pragmatic Education – Also on why comment marking in books is a waste of time. How to spend time better? Feedback.
Giving Feedback the ‘Michaela’ Way – Reading all the Books – Excellent ideas on how to replace onerous marking with strategies both more effective and less time-consuming.
Whole Class Marking – Mr. Histoire – On the same theme as the post above. Quite a nice idea to note down all misconceptions students make and then give verbal feedback as a whole class.
Can I be a little better at…using cognitive science to plan learning? – My Learning Journey – a really helpful summary and guide to applying principles of cognitive science in lesson and unit planing.
Germane Load: The right kind of mental effort? – Evidence Into Practice – Useful post, with lots of good links to other reading on how making learning more effortful (deliberate difficulties) could lead to improved retention.
Data-Driven Instruction: Leading Analysis Meetings – Uncommon Schools – Useful video showing an example of “leverage leadership”.
Mistaking Knowledge Problems for Skills Problems – Doug Lemov’s Field Notes – A fantastic explanation of the importance of teaching knowledge over skills.