Old books, New Surprises.

I had a marvellous moment in class last week. I discovered something new about a book that I thought I knew inside out, a book that I’d taught many times and read cover to cover on many, many occasions. We were revising Of Mice and Men, in preparation for the prose exam next week. Our focus…

How do you teach a novel you’ve never taught before?

When the new specifications changed, and texts like To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men were removed from the GCSE syllabus, I was pretty upset. Not because I felt that these texts were somehow ‘better’ than the ones set to replace them, not because I have a particular love for American literature, not because I thought…

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…

Beautiful language, beautiful analysis?

If students are given more beautiful language to explore, would their analysis itself be more beautiful? One of my biggest priorities this year is preparing my year 11 classes for their exams. Sure, this statement is unlikely to make it into any teacher recruitment literature, but it’s an unavoidable fact of teaching. And to this…

The Majesty of the Markbook

‘Ergonomic Classroom Advisers’. If such a thing doesn’t already exist, I’d be surprised. An advisory group must be out there somewhere; checking teachers are looking at their PCs from the correct angle; that their chairs provide the maximal support for their aching backs; that their coffee cups contain precisely the right amount to last the…

Risking it with Rhetoric: Part One

This in the first in a series of three posts on a teaching experiment this year. The lessons described and the examples used all come from my mixed ability year 8 class. Risking it with Rhetoric The last time I taught a year 8 class was in my NQT year, two years ago. The particular topic…

John the Reader

Like many other English teachers, I spend a lot of time thinking about what texts I should study with my classes. All English teachers, I believe, care deeply about their students’ reading, and are keen to develop a love of reading, so that students will read for pleasure throughout their school careers and beyond. So…