Suggested Reading

A list of articles that are worth a read, broken down into vague categories and otherwise in no particular order:


Four reasons instructional coaching is currently the best-evidenced form of CPD – Sam Sims

Barriers to Effective CPD – headguruteacher

Built-in CPD. Our New Model – headguruteacher

Developing Great Teaching – Teacher Development Trust

What makes effective CPD? – Pragmatic Education

How can we improve initial teacher training? – Pragmatic Education

The book group: CPD for the future – Reflecting English

Becoming a better teaching by ‘deliberate practice’ – Hunting English

Improving teacher quality – with vision must come action – This Is My Classroom

Becoming a Better Teacher: teachers doing it for themselves – Hunting English

Teacher Coaching & Improving Continuous Professional Development – Hunting English

CPD and the Second Law of Thermodynamics – Must Do Better…

Can Checklists Improve Teacher Development?  – Must Do Better…

Evaluating CPD: hard but not impossible – Must Do Better…

Gutsky’s Five Critical Levels of Professional Development Evaluation

How to effectively evaluate our CPD – David Weston

Archimedian Leadership 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5: Levarage Observation – Improving Teaching, including this excellent video of Yo Yo Ma giving feedback.

A fantastic video from Uncommon Schools of Leverage Coaching in action.

Tacit Accountability and the Art of Making People Better – Doug Lemov’s Field Notes

Itzhak Perlman on how to practice – YouTube video

CPD for Knowledge Fans – Michaela Blog / Katie Ashford

10 seconds with an elite football coach – Doug Lemov’s Field Notes

The Mirage: Confronting Hard Truths about our Quest for Teacher Development – TNTP

8 priorities for teacher education – Improving Teaching

Evaluation of CPD providers on England – Report for school leaders – TDT

Being the 1%. What does it take to make CPD effective? – Improving Teaching

From Professional Development to Practice: Getting Better at Getting Better – Doug Lemov

What Makes Expert Teachers – Improving Teaching

The Effect of Teacher Coaching on Instruction and Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of the
Causal Evidence

Teachers Make a Difference: The Research Evidence – John Hattie

The Beginners Guide to Deliberate Practise – James Clear 

Top Singers and Athletes have Coaches: Should You?  Atul Guwande 

Lesson Observation

The Continuing Cult of Classroom Observation – e=mc2andallthat

Classroom Observation: it’s harder than you think – Robert Coe

Curriculum Development

How do we create meaningful conversations? – MrHistoire.comMuch 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 SpyOn 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 SpyOn 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 SpyOn 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 SpyOn 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 EducationA 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 EducationOn 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 EnglishOn 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 EducationOn 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 BooksOn how to share ideas on planning for mastery as part of an in-school CPD session.

One scientific insight for curriculum designOn how to employ the principles of regular quizzing and cumulative testing to improve curriculum design.

Better Planning, Better Teaching, Better Learning (a template – Improving Teaching

Lesson Planning

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 EducationAn 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 HistoireAn 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 – JLMFLAn excellent post on why everything we learnt at teacher training on how to differentiate is a load of old ********.

Teacher Instruction – Reading all the booksGreat set of clips about why, contrary to everything I learnt during teacher training, teacher delivered instruction really is the best way to learn.

The Problem with Lesson Planning – Learning Spy – Individual lessons are the wrong unit of time when thinking about planning and teaching.
Mastery Learning

Master Learning Handbook – Reading All the BooksReally 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 SpyThought provoking argument that mastery learning might be another meaningless education ‘weasel word’.


Is questioning yet another cult – MrHistoire.comQuestions 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 FrenchSimilar 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 SpyDidau questioning the teaching dogma that questioning is a vitally important part of teaching.

Should we use questions to teach? Part 1 – …to the realKris 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 realIs 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.

Engaged Cerebral Classroom Culture: Aidan Thomas’ Masterclass on Wait Time – Doug Lemov’s Field Notes


Don’t Just Talk At Them – Spin a ripping yarn – TES MagazineA guide to using narrative structures and organisational devices to improve teacher explanations

Spinning a pedagogical yarn: the role of storytelling in the classroom – ClassteachingA guide on how to improve the effectiveness of teacher explanations.

Teaching That Sticks – Chip and Dan Heath

Classroom Discussion / Building good ‘Habits of Discussion

How Eric Snyder rolls out his discussion procedures – Teach Like a Champion blog

English teaching

Reclaiming Rhetoric – Pragmatic Education A persuasive argument for the inclusion, and thorough teaching of, rhetoric in English education. 

Thinking like a writer -The Learning SpyOn 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 BetterA discussion of the best methods for teaching tier 3, subject specific vocabulary, to students. 

Why and how we should teach grammar – The Wing to HeavenAn 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 RasaOn 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 NotesA 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 EnglishUseful post on how to teach poetry.

My favourite question: ‘What do you not understand?’ – Reflecting EnglishHow 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.

The Holy Trinity of English Teaching: Direction, immersion and habit – Reflecting English

What’s in a word – Must do better… – On the importance of a rigorous approach to teaching and assessing tier 3 subject vocabulary.

This much I know about…teaching students how to plan stonkingly good essays – John Tomsett

This much I know about…teaching students how to write paragraphs with deliberate precision – John Tomsett

Paragraph pairs – The Goldfish Bowl On how to teach students to structure their paragraphs

Grammar and the Art of Writing – Tabula RasaOn Michaela’s approach to grammar teaching: invaluable!

Teaching Vocabulary  – Reading all the BooksOn the importance of explicit vocabulary teaching.

Tell me why I love Fridays – Learning from my mistakes – A really interesting approach to teaching writing!

The Problem of Writing – Filling the Pail

Connecting and Organising Knowledge in English Literature – Reflecting English


How to design multiple-choice questions – Pragmatic EducationOn 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 Frencha 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 TeacherA 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.

Is there a place for multiple choice in English parts 1 and 2 – Must Do Better… – On how multiple choice testing is an invaluable tool to build and test content knowledge in English.

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 EducationAn 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 HeavenOn 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 HeavenOn 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.

Proof of Progress – Part 1 and 2 – Learning Spy – An account of a trial held using the comparative judgement system of grading work.

Multiple Choice Testing: Are the best practices for assessment also good for learning – The Learning Scientists

Proof of Progress


My top seven classroom management tips – Filling the pail

On Call  – Dealing with students who have been asked to leave a lesson – Harry Fletcher-Wood

Keeping students learning through ‘Least Invasive Interventions’  – Harry Fletcher-Wood


Why we’ve got planning and marking all wrong (Part 1) – Ramblings Of a TeacherOn 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.

Using Exit Tickets to Assess and Plan: The tuning fork of teaching – Improving Teaching

Giving Feedback the ‘Michaela’ Way – Reading all the BooksExcellent 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.

A Michaela Feedback Lesson – Reading All The BooksExcellent post, with video clips, on how to give effective feedback on a class essay.
Marking Crib Sheet – Mr Thorton Teach – Such a good idea: a ready-made marking crib sheet and ideas for DIRT lesson.
Verbal Feedback: Telling Em’ What They Need to Do – Learning History – A persuasive look at why comment marking in books is a bad idea.
Cognitive Science

Can I be a little better at…using cognitive science to plan learning? – My Learning Journeya 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 PracticeUseful post, with lots of good links to other reading on how making learning more effortful (deliberate difficulties) could lead to improved retention.

Why don’s students remember what they’ve learned? – Pragmatic Education

Classroom Instruction That works – Robert Marzano

Should Teachers use Prequestions?  – Daniel Willingham

Understanding Working Memory: A Classroom Guide

The Effect of Context on Memory – Robert A. Bjork (video series)

Inflexible Knowledge: The First Step to Expertise – Daniel Willingham

Students remember…what they think about – Daniel Willingham


Hornets and Butterflies: how to reduce workload – Pragmatic Education

Data-Driven Instruction: Leading Analysis Meetings – Uncommon SchoolsUseful 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.

A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy – David R. Krathwohl

Direct Instruction – Bennewmark

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