Rules for Novice Writers

With only one exception, I’ve taught year 7 for every year in my career. This may not seem very remarkable in itself, but as a head of faculty, there is often pressure to teach only exam classes, or mostly KS4. But not for me. Every year I make sure, if possible, that I have some…

Explicit Grammar: Teaching Relative Clauses

I’ve been experimenting this year with different ways of making the mechanics of writing a little more explicit to my students. My hope is that the more grammar knowledge my students have, the more explicitly they can understand their choices when writing. For some, this might involve showing them something new. For others, it might make them a…

Ignite the Thesaurus! Synonymy in the classroom.

I don’t wish to start off the blog-post by sounding too boastful. But, and I’m sure you’ll be jealous to learn this, I have a full set of thesauruses in my classroom. Yep, that’s right. While most other English classrooms along the corridor struggle along with only a handful of mismatched, different editions, I have maintained…

Grammar Lessons for Descriptive Writing

As much as I love marking, it can be one the quickest and most efficient ways to make me feel like a failure.  This sensation struck me in spades last term after I marked my classes’ efforts at descriptive writing coursework – part of the Cambridge iGCSE course. As I’m only able to give general comments about students’…

English Intervention: The Year 9 Masterclass

At the start of the year, I found myself in the unenviable position of overseeing progress in English for our KS3 students. As well as careful tracking of each student, I also meet fortnightly with other members of the unfortunately named ‘R.A.T’ (Raising Attainment Team), to discuss the progress of our students at KS3. There’s…

What’s the best way to teach vocabulary?

I don’t think it’s controversial to say that being able to read, understand and write words is incredibly important to every child’s education. It might even be so plainly obvious as to not merit questioning. The more words my students can read and understand, the more complex and challenging texts they can acess. The more…

Changing the Subject: Grammar and Descriptive Writing

The context Coursework time is here, and I’ve just embarked on a descriptive writing piece with my year 11 class. In total, they’ll produce three pieces of writing, the aim being to demonstrate they can adapt and shape their writing to suit a variety of styles and purposes. The descriptive writing piece is perhaps the…