The Snow Report: Education’s West Gate Bridge

The Snow Report: Education’s West Gate Bridge:   Image source Imagine that some time later today, you start to feel creeping pain in your chest. You also feel a little sweaty a…

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10 “unbelievable” things that used to be common in schools

Scenes From The Battleground

I asked this question on Twitter:

I have collated the most common responses. They were not necessarily the most unbelievable, to see those you should click on the above tweet and read the responses and follow this link for the “quote-tweeting” replies. (Seriously, I recommend doing this, and find out what a swimming horn was and the horrors of tracing paper loo roll).

I will count down from the 10th to the 1st most popular responses. (For what it’s worth the 11th most popular response was sherry, which was apparently drunk at interviews, when the headteacher offered it, or on Friday lunchtimes.) Numbers are very, very approximate as it’s kind of hard…

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A culture of over-assistance?


With the annual joy of SATs just around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to write this blog post, which has been floating around in my head for some time. There is a much bigger story behind this post which I might well write about in years to come, but with the memory still painfully fresh in my mind, now is not the time.

The basic premise of my post is this: SATs scores are not worth the paper they are written on because the integrity of the process is, in a variety of ways, being undermined.

One of these is the manipulation of access arrangements for pupils sitting the tests. The guidance paper (which can be found here) would seem to be reasonably clear. Of particular interest though, is the note on the use of readers. The document stipulates that readers may only be…

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Professional Development, Dept.

traditional math

Teachers are routinely expected to attend professional development (PD) to supposedly help them in their teaching.  I recall one such PD I was forced to attend when I started teaching at my current school.  It was held at the school during the week before school started.  It was called “How to write rock star lesson plans” and it seemed to be all about collaboration, with the general message that writing lesson plans was a waste of time. Teaching should be organic and student-centered.

His ice-breaker was to go around the room asking everyone to name their “super power”. This is typical at PD sessions that seem to abound in references to unicorns, super heroes, Ninjas, rock stars, and other like-minded crap as if teachers are a special breed who must be spoken down to. The teachers at the session complied and he always had some witty comeback or conversation talking…

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Can Practicing Retrieval Help Future Learning? The Learning Scientists Blog

At this point, there have been hundreds of studies demonstrating that practicing retrieval of to-be-learned information can help us remember that information later. We’ve covered many such studies on this blog (see all our posts tagged with “retrieval practice”), and regular readers will be very familiar with this idea. This finding has also started to find its way to broader circles, with popular articles, videos, and classroom implementations of the technique proliferating.

Source: The Learning Scientists Blog

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Start cool, practise coolness, move towards freezing – a Behaviour Top 8

No Easy Answers

ice cool

On a scale of 1 to 10 where one is as cool as a cucumber and ten is erupting like Mount Vesuvius, the optimum place for a teacher to be, when it comes to behaviour, is hovering somewhere between -5 and -2. So,

1. Start cool, practise coolness, move towards freezing

Whether the students like you or not is irrelevant. Be clear about this to yourself and clear about it to them. If your’re a decent person and you try your best as a teacher then most kids will end up liking you, but no one’s perfect and some kids will always find reasons not to. Be very clear with all your students: them not liking you is not an excuse for not trying or working hard, if they do that they will be letting themselves down and that is not acceptable

2. Being liked as a teacher will come…

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Phonics Check myth buster 3 “Nonsense words are silly and we should test reading in context.”

Dekker Delves into Dyslexia

“Nonsense words are nonsense” is utter nonsense!

One myth that immediately shows the tigers stripes is the myth about nonsense words and context. Straight away your opponent has shown their lack of understanding of learning to read, the importance of phonics and their alliance to multi cueing.

Are nonsense words really nonsense? After all any word that is not in a child’s vocabulary is a nonsense word. Without the ability to decode nonsense words the reading of some of the best children’s literature would be impossible!

Crodsquinkled’ – The BFG by Roald Dahl

Woozles’, ‘Wizzles’ and ‘Heffalumps’ – Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne

Hornswogglers, snozzwangers, whangdoodles and Oompa-Loompas –Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Nonsense words or pseudowords are an essential part of the phonics check. Pseudoword decoding issues are a well established predictor of reading difficulties. Nonsense word tests such as DIBELS have been used…

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