Sunday, 27 March 2016

My thoughts on everything - updated 2017

Updated 16/07/2017

Updated 01/01/2017

Happy New Year! With another year down, I thought it timely to update my page with the links to all my posts. I roughly write forty posts a year and so even I forget about things I have written over the year.

I thought it might be interesting to let you know the following bits of information:

My wife has yet to read a single page of the blog.

I have yet to make any money from the blog. According to Google, I could make £8 a month if I allowed any form of advertising. I am obviously more stubborn than Doctor Faustus.

I don't like advertising the blog. As a rule I tend to Tweet a post four times. Any more than that and I feel I am after global domination. I am far happier promoting others.

I don't share my blog with my friends and family.

I don't share my blog with the department.  

I write when my daughters are watching television on a Sunday morning. I write it to avoid marking and to avoid watching a Barbie film.

2016 has been an interesting year for me:  I grew a beard; I started to take running seriously; and I started to play football. I have no resolutions for the new year. I suppose I just want to do more of the same thing. Blogging. Being silly. Having fun. Being kind.  Sharing. Helping. Being supportive. Wanting to be better. Not taking myself seriously.

I will continue to write with humour, humility and humanity. The blog is about learning from my mistakes and boy I have made hundreds and I will continue to. I write this blog to think.

Thank you, dear reader, - I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.  


On the 31st of July 2012, I published my first ever blog and close to four years later I am still finding things to write about. In total I have written 187 posts. I struggle, however, to find things I have written here. So, as an introduction to newbies or as a reminder of old posts, here's a detailed overview of all the blogs published. Hopefully, it will help people find blog posts easier.




Issues with reading strategies - Glossing over the gist and glossaries with Matthew and his ‘Effect T-shirt’
A Year of Reading Dangerously, Slowly, Carefully, Accurately
Should students read for enjoyment? I am a secret book lover

Getting students to summarise a text and make inferences - Summarise, synthesis, simplify or suggest  
Getting students to read more - The force is strong in you

Getting students to understand how Charles Dickens wrote his stories - A lesson on character
Getting students to not give then ending of a novel away - Preparing for the end

Getting students to see the barriers to reading effectively - Deep Reading 
Getting students prepared for reading Charles Dickens - Great Expectations or Bitter Disappointments
Getting over the challenges to reading in modern society - The Reading War
Getting students to read the opening lines of novels - In the beginning there was a ... sentence
Getting student to explore characters in a novel
Getting students engaging with novels part 2 - Teaching the novel
Getting students engaging with novels part 1 - Teaching the novel


Getting to understand the problems students have with writing- A year of writing creatively
Getting students to vary their writing and make it more interesting: I digress
Getting students to be more creative 2 - 200 Word Tasks Getting students to be more creative - Tell me why I love Fridays 
Getting students to avoid using clichés - The Cliché Glass Ceiling
Getting students to write better autobiographies - And now for something completely different

Getting students to write more - How much should they write?
Getting students to improve their vocabulary - Vocabulary: oleaginous is the word you heard..
Getting students to use a motif in their writing - What's your motif when writing this story?
Getting students to structure paragraphs effectively - MacGyver Teaching
Getting students to describe a character effectively - Deconstructing character
Getting students to describe a setting effectively - Deconstructing setting
Getting students to experiment with adjectives when using colour - The colour rusty purple and the monochrome world
Getting students to use lists for variety - Let's talk about lists, baby
Getting students to proofread work - 100% Concentration
Getting students to proofread work by reading it out - Listening to the words
Getting students to vary their sentence structures - Death to sentence stems
Getting students to use adjectives more effectively in their writing - The solid, loyal and easily forgotten adjective
Getting students to be more creative with their similes - Progress 5: Effort 1
Example of creative writing inspired by a poem
Getting students to write creative writing with the mood in mind - Sexy Sprouts turn Evil
Getting students to develop their personification in their writing - Personifying the X-Factor chairs
Getting students to effectively peer assess their writing - AFL: better or worse?
Getting students to write with the effect in mind - Bring Sexy Back - Sexy Sprouts 2
Getting students to think better when persuading people - Sexy Sprouts
Getting students to improve their handwriting - Handwriting is nothing to do with literacy
Getting students to write an autobiography - Grammar Detectives
Getting students to write effective dialogue - The Talking Eggs: Dialogue
Getting students to be creative when writing stories - Adventures in story-telling

Getting students to write effective openings/ closings in non-fiction and using parody in writing - More opening sentences
Getting students to write with variety of grammatical structures - The thing that should never be named 
Getting students confident at using sentences for impact - The Joy of Grammar

Analysis of texts  

Getting less able students to analyse texts effectively - The purpose of facing one long sentence
Getting students to explore the subject of sentence - The Subject of Sentences
Getting students to be more knowledgeable about poems - Starters and the three part lesson
Getting students to write about novels and texts better - A novel approach
Getting students to be more precise with analysis - Precision in Writing - The Show Sentence
Getting students to use quotes better - Defragmenting memories

Getting students to develop their interpretations - That essay is missing something.... a metaphor?!?
Getting students to explore the purpose of the text - Where is the love for ideas? Are we too passionate about techniques?
Getting students ready for the exams - Last few bits and bobs before the final exams  Getting students to understand poetry - Blogsync - Orange juice poetry
Getting students to improve their vocabulary when analysing a text - Vocabulary: The Knowledge Awakens
Getting students to be precise with their analysis - Anchor sentences
Getting students to comment on the effect - Say it once more with feeling: the problem with effect  
Getting students to memorise texts and techniques better - Thanks for the memories
Getting students to develop more than one interpretation of a text - Learning to love the humble multiple-choice question
Getting students to develop opinions about texts studied - Jacob Marley's Bowel Movements

Getting students to closely analyse settings in a novel - Novel settings as poetry
Getting students to write academically - Solving the essay problem part 1
Getting students to structure sentences effectively in an essay - Piddle, PEE, Wee

Getting students to be more subtle when writing non-fiction - When will...when will...when will I be subtle?
Getting students to analyse headlines - What's the tone of this headline?
Getting students to compare the effect and language of two texts - Drawing lines in the sand
Getting students to use techniques effectively in their writing - Techniques for dummies
Getting students to analyse headlines and pictures - Cohesion: AQA Unit 1 Exam
Getting students to comment on techniques effectively - What's technique vomiting?
Getting students to analyse syllables in poetry - Poetry: one word, three syllables
Getting students to explore how repetition is used in poetry - History repeating itself
Getting students to improve their understanding a writer's choice of words - Words, words, words
Getting students to analyse texts effectively - Modal verbs, confidence and writing to explore
Getting students to use adverbs to show understanding - Agonising over adverbs
Getting students to make links when reading a poem - My Adventures on the Millennium Falcon

Shakespeare - teaching Shakespeare plays in the classroom

Getting students to improve by using indicative content - Turning the indicators on
Getting students to spot changing points - What a carry on!
Getting students to write about Shakespeare's structural choices - Lord of the PowerPoints
Getting students to explore the presentation of a character in a play - Exploring the presentation of a character in a play

Getting students confident with exploring Shakespeare's language - Demystifying Shakespeare
Getting students to engage with the rhythm of Shakespeare's writing - Enid Blyton goes rapping with William Shakespeare

Texts Studied

The New GCSE English Exams

The new exam specs made my question some aspects of teaching.


I clearly had some issues with marking as I have quite a number of posts where I comment on approaches I have used.

‘Post-mortem Marking’ vs ‘Live Marking’
Lots of progress for very little effort - Marking wars

Target setting in lessons - We need to talk about Kevin's work
Progress in lessons - Brilliant effort but no progress
This marking is killing me
Differentiation thirty different ways
Progress, progress, progress
Marking feedback sheets
Much Ado About Marking and Progress

General Teaching Issues

These are a mixture of things. Some posts are very specific and others are very general. I could have separated them more, but I think it would have driven me insane as a lot them cover a number of different areas.

Saving time and 'work-shy' managers
Copying success from other schools
Patterns and dominant methodologies in English
Time to take off the cotton-wool gloves - SEND
How to avoid using up the budget on photocopying - The Photocopier is Jammed
A pen licence? It is just a stupid piece of plastic
INSET in September: What do we do when...?
Dear Father Christmas...
Behaviour: Homepride Education or melior est canis dominum

Public displays of affection, floating students and roboteacher on results day
Canons to the left of me. Canons to the right of me. Here I am stuck in the middle with you.
Why teaching things in topics ‘might’ be bad? The Path to Academia or making students ‘cleverer’ – Part 2
The Path to Academia or making students ‘cleverer’ – Part1
Not another blog about the KS2 grammar test
Purple Praise: a spoon full of sugar helps the marking go down
Have a nice day in the High-Rise tower, but remember the lifts are broken
Teaching boys - The gender question
Being positive about the current state of the education system - We are all doomed
Why it is important that some teachers say no to new ideas - Why 'no' is a swear word in teaching and Twitter?
Teaching a child with SEN from a parent's perspective - What I want teachers to know about a parent of a child with a disability?
How learning is judged in the classroom - Chimera Measurements
The problem with peer assessments - Uncomfortable peer assessment and the death of 'EBI'
The problem with teaching students grit - Washing the grit, resilience and sand out of the classroom 
How the working environment for teachers has changed - Working 9 to 5 - the way I want to work and still be living

Thoughts on students thinking and essay writing - Making students think

Thoughts on testing in school
Does Bloom's Taxonomy work for English? Blooming Bloom's Taxonomy
The problem with teaching students styles of writing - Frankenstein's Essay
Quick and easy homeworks - The Homework Cheat
Using data in English - What's it all about? Data.
Why I want the SATs back
The Spelling Problem - finding a voice for people
Short term and long term memory - Why don't they blooming remember things?

Thoughts on teachmeets - Letting the drawbridge down
Approaches for Gifted and Talented students in English - Gifted and talented at reading loads of books
Thoughts on Gove changing aspects of the curriculum - P.S. I love Gove
The importance of teaching students manners in the classroom - What is the magic word?
Why I struggle with the teaching of 'Romeo and Juliet'
Mashing-up Literacy
Questioning the quality of reading assessments in school - The emotional reading elephant in the room
Whole school literacy - Literacy for newbies  
Preparing for Ofsted - What's that coming over the hill? Is it Ofsted? Literacy
My reaction to an Ofsted visit - The day a tiger came to breakfast, lunch and tea
My thoughts on political interference in education -  Why I idolise Henry VIII
Guide to parents on improving literacy
The importance of libraries in schools - There's a body in the library
Thoughts on the obsession with progress - Progress -it's all about STEPs
Thoughts on observations - Observations, Burgers and Mystery Shoppers
Thoughts on the exam system - Something is rotten in the state of Denmark: The exam system
Thoughts on why so many trainee teachers leave - A candle in the darkness or a forklift truck in the library  

My thoughts on Gove's selection of texts - Gove's hatred of postmodern literature
Trying to be consistent with a school's approach to literacy
Leader literacy across a school
What is the one thing I think would improve education?


  1. That's quite an oeuvre ... I've benefited from a lot of these, so, thank you!

  2. Very kind, Fran. Thank you for the support over the years

  3. Thanks - Very useful. I love your practical approach to English teaching and have tried out many of your ideas.

  4. Thanks for this Chris. Useful index of some amazing work!


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