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For the Love of Tables: Building Success in English Language

GCSE English Language poses an interesting challenge for the English teaching community. On the one hand, it has the potential to provoke frustration and confusion in equal measure, with questions not saying what they really mean and it assessing knowledge about surf boards, as opposed to, say, English Language. Yet, within this, there is also... Continue Reading →

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Defining Excellence: How I Use Whole Class Feedback

I first encountered whole class feedback several years ago and was instantly captivated. And what's not to love? It promises a significant reduction in workload, no longer spending countless hours huddled over a slow burning lamp with pen in hand (forgive the Dickensian rhetorical flourish) whilst simultaneously, even miraculously, improving student outcome. I remember the... Continue Reading →

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Teaching Poetry: A Step by Step Guide

Ok: first of all an admission. The title of this post, with its impossibly bold claim to distil teaching poetry into a series of neatly packaged steps, is somewhat overzealous. In a manner somewhat, and unfavourably, all too familiar to the last year, I fear it will overpromise and underdeliver. However, what it will do,... Continue Reading →

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How I Teach the GCSE Poetry Anthology

I really dislike the given AQA Poetry Anthology, not the poems, but the actual physical anthology. My students do too. In fact, I dislike it so much that I set about creating an alternative, that, whilst of course biased, I feel is far superior. This post is about what is included in this alternative and... Continue Reading →

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Why Even Poetry? Why We Teach and Study Poetry

It’s Friday. 2:55. The sky a granite-grey as the heft of the clouds seem to throw themselves into your classroom. You’ve just spent 45 minutes teaching, exploring, discussing a poem. In fact, not just any poem, but a great poem. A beautiful poem. Heaney’s ‘Blackberry-Picking’. Mid-sentence you notice a hand shoot up from the corner... Continue Reading →

On Modelling Interpretative Vulnerability

The disciplinary disposition of English is one of possibility, exploration, and ambiguity. We write to explore an interpretation and to persuade our reader of it validity, but, always, with a clear sense it is just one of many ways we could understand that image, line or text. The epistemological horizon of English Literature as a... Continue Reading →

Resonant Reading: A Poetry Reading Strategy

Before outlining this strategy to help students to encounter and explore a poem, first a question: when teaching poetry, what is the appropriate weight to give to our own interpretation of the poem? I think this is a really interesting question. Presumably, before we teach a poem we read and think about it first, perhaps... Continue Reading →

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