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…

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…

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’…

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…

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…