Teaching Poetry: Vocabulary Matters

Several months ago, I was observing a colleague within the English Department. The class was studying poetry from world war one. Their books were immaculate and showed real engagement with some difficult poems. It was clear from observing their behaviour and looking at the quality of work that they had been taught very well. After around…

Words, Images, Contexts: Making Inferences Explicit

A lot seems to happen when we make inferences. Often so much, that it can be hard to articulate. We read a word, a phrase, a whole sentence, and this collides with our knowledge. Not just our knowledge of words, but our knowledge of the world, our history as readers, as well as any contextual knowledge…

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…

My day at PedagooSW

I was delighted when Pedagoo SW was announced to be coming to Bristol. Aside from a 3 year interlude at University, which is all a little bit of a blur, I’ve lived in and around Bristol my whole life and love the idea that we can welcome a group of people from around the UK…

Persuasive Writing and the Elements of Eloquence

If someone asked you what the purpose of blogging was, what would you say? If you’re an education blogger, what label would you pick as the purpose of your craft? Is it writing to argue? Writing to persuade? Or, does it also contain information? Perhaps even, a little advice? Or, am I asking you to place an arbitrary…

Risking it with Rhetoric Part Two: Designed to be Spoken

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my experimentation with teaching rhetoric. The process marked a departure from what I had taught in previous years. My main justification for this was that if my students were going to analyse non-fiction, then certain speeches, packed full of fascinating language and steeped in our cultural history, would…