Poetry writing: A walk-through lesson

Reading Time: 7 minutes In the lesson before this, I’d read On the Sidewalk Bleeding with my Year 8 class, as part of a narrative/short-story unit (some EXCELLENT black lives matters and identity conversation came from it too). The standard has been a couple of analytical lessons followed by creative writing. It’s been an AGE since I taught poetry, and I’ve recently read @funkypedagogy‘s book which reminded me of how much I enjoy it – and I was heartened to see her methods basically mirrored my own. (Always lovely when someone you respect can reaffirm you’re doing the right thing!) Some of the below …

Oracy is a feminist act – it’s the way we teach our girls to take their place in the world and speak up for themselves and others. How can we structure talk more effectively?

Reading Time: 5 minutes In any list of people’s fears and phobias, public speaking is usually in the top three – and often first. Even among teachers, who arguably spend most of their day presenting in one style or other, there’s a common, if rueful, admittance that teaching is one thing but delivering a CPD presentation to our peers is something else entirely. Speaking has been critically undervalued in the secondary curriculum, especially since the English GCSE presentation was reduced to an NEA. Even before then, it rarely held the prestige of writing and reading. It fares better at primary school, I think, although …

Performing the good girl

Reading Time: 6 minutes Chris Curtis’s latest blogpost – https://learningfrommymistakesenglish.blogspot.com/ – chimes with some things I’ve been writing / thinking about for a while now, about the ways that girls adopt different personas depending, in large part, on the expectations they experience in different places. I’ve had conversations at parents’ evenings that reveal the dilemma he describes, that “The home persona will say something and challenge things when the school persona will not, because they are worried they’ll get told off. Life for them is the battle between these two versions of themselves.” Working at a girls’ school for a decade, I’ve had lots of …

Unpicking language in literature: why the blue curtains do matter

Reading Time: 3 minutes As a teacher, the thing I find myself saying over and over again to students is, “develop your language analysis”. Every year, every student, almost every piece. It’s not that they’re bad at it – far from it, mostly! But it’s always the thing that makes their explanations more precise and, in the exams they do, will get them better marks. The thing is, we’re trying to make the implicit become explicit. The feeling that you get when you read gets unpicked, understood, and stitched back together again. I usually get shown this meme at some point in the year too: …

Writing interesting essay titles from dramatic headlines

Reading Time: 2 minutes I love this idea of turning dramatic headlines into an essay title or argument. I think it could work so well for A-Level and high-target GCSE students to make their writing really interesting and unusual.

Reasons why teaching is awesome

Reading Time: 2 minutes 1. You get to spend LITERALLY all day talking about books and stories which is basically what makes us human , creates relationships, consciousness, and empathy. It’s the thing that makes us amazing 2. You get to make young people confident. In a way that you weren’t at their age and still aren’t, really, and maybe they’re faking it too but goddamn they can argue their point well 3. You spend your day with intelligent thoughtful people who always challenge you. Staff and students. Who ask ‘whys Macbeth worried about legacy? Or ‘do you know whether that’s from the Latin …