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 …

What makes good writing? Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Reading Time: 4 minutes In this series, I look at just a few sentences to get under the nuts and bolts of writing.

This post, it’s Frances Hardinge’s Skinful of Shadows*, which I’ve just finished.

When a creature dies, its spirit can go looking for somewhere to hide. Some people have space inside them, perfect for hiding. Makepeace, a courageous girl with a mysterious past, defends herself nightly from the ghosts which try to possess her. Then a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard for a moment. And now there’s a ghost inside her. The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, but it may be her only defence in a time of dark suspicion and fear. As the English Civil War erupts, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death.

Christmas presents for readers on #smallbizsatuk

Reading Time: 4 minutes Today is #SmallBizSatUK, an opportunity to talk about some of the great things that small businesses are doing around the country. And, as Christmas is coming up quickly (eek!) I thought I’d put together a list of some of the literary inspired gifts that I’ve either received or bought as gifts. I love supporting small independent business especially at this time of year when there’s so many craft fairs local to me here in West Yorkshire, and think it’s really important to try to balance where I buy from, especially gifts for others. Plus I can usually be pretty sure that …

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.