Monthly Archives: August 2015

Year 7 grammar programme (Terms 1+2)

We teach grammar in both a contextualised and decontextualised way (the best of both worlds in my opinion).  We have one lesson a fortnight dedicated to grammar teaching and follow Daisy Christodoulou’s suggested programme.  You can find this here: (Slide 12).

Below is the grammar workbook I have produced for year 7 covering: The parts of speech: verbs, nouns, articles, adjectives, prepositions.  Subject-verb agreement and tense.  Aside from tense, the supporting texts have been chosen to fit in with our units in Term 1: Language Through Time and in Term 2: An Introduction to Poetry.  Therefore, this may need some adaptation to make relevant for the units you are going to teach.  These lessons will take students all the way through terms 1 and 2 (or until Christmas).

I will producing flipcharts but at the moment I need to try and get Year 8 and Year 9 done.

Year 7 Grammar Programme

Yr 7 Grammar workbook


Year 9 – Review reading pack

So i glibly presented this on Twitter as a library workbook and, I guess, it really isn’t that in that it doesn’t support the library nor does it need the library to exist.  Instead, we see the library lesson as a reading lesson.  An opportunity to read and enhance reading.  Three activities run in sync during our library lesson: silent reading, Accelerated Reader and we are now starting to create reading booklets.  In addition, i would like to see reading interventions taking place with teachers working with an individual or small groups.  I am particularly interested in @HeyMissSmith ‘s reciprocal reading.

However, please find attached the first of our ‘library’ workbooks and use as you wish:

Yr 9 Review Library booklet


This month we are reflecting on the texts that we really loved teaching and the texts that have left us feeling uneasy.  Here are my two choices:


Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Not an obvious choice and, ok, I confess we didn’t read the text from cover to cover but I taught this to a year 9 mixed ability set in my early days whilst teaching at Durrington High. I think I saw the adaptation for screen first and was drawn into the narrative. I felt for Tess and the fate that was bestowed upon her. As a class we read the chapter where Prince dies and considered whether this was the catalyst for the events that followed. We also completed a class courtroom drama where we put Tess on trial for the murder of Alec. 10 years later, the students with whom I explored this text still tell me about the love they have for Tess of the d’Urbervilles and that that period of learning was one of their favourite.



I don’t loathe this text per se, I just didn’t teach it very well. It was longer that I anticipated and with an A level group who didn’t read independently as much as they should. Most of the time was spent reading the text (which is an enjoyable thing) that I felt I failed them in studying the text.  The fear that you may not finish a text or that they won’t ‘know’ the text as well as they should is enough to make me consider text length when choosing a class reader.  I never want to feel as though I can’t give a text the time it deserves.

Yr 7 – Language Through Time

This unit will recap the basic PEE structure for our new students while exploring a range of texts taken through different periods of time including Beowulf, The Knight, Macbeth and Dick Turpin.  Our distinct Grammar programme will support the unit by revisiting word classes.  The Checkpoint is intended to work as a formative assessment to further help students prepare for the Key Assessment.

STP Language Through Time Planning grid and overview of lessons

Week 1 Lessons 1-4 Language Through Time (available as flipcharts upon request)

Week 2 Lessons 5-8 Language Through Time (available as flipcharts upon request)

R1 Beowulf extract

R2 Beowulf extract

R3 PEE paragraph writing

R4 The Knight

R5 The Knight extract

R6 Rainbow analysis Thanks to @HeadofEnglish and @TillyTeacher for this idea/proforma

R7 Macbeth Hero or villain

Checkpoint Assessment

2015-2016 Long term plans

With the bulk of results now in, attention can be turned to the new academic year.  The first port of call are the long term plans that will determine the curriculum content and assessment across the year.

Year 7 LTP

Year 8 LTP (Library to be determined)

Year 9 LTP (Library to be determined)

Year 10 LTP

Year 11 LTP

AS English Literature

AS English Language and Literature

A2 English Literature

A2 English Language

AO posters

These are merged AOs in that I wanted to create a consistency across all three key stages.  What we do, therefore, in KS3 feeds into KS4 and so forth..


AO1 The identification and interpretation of explicit and implicit information and ideas

AO2 The construction of meaning and effects using language, structure and form

AO3 Comparison of ideas, perspectives and texts

AO3b The significance of context

AO4 A personal and critical response

AO5a Form, purpose and audience

AO5b Structure and organisation

AO6 Sentence structure and punctuation and vocabulary and spelling.

Please feel free to help yourself.

Creating a learning space

This year we are incredibly fortunate, after two and a half years, to gain a corridor and an extra three classrooms and an office space. This is a luxury. Having been transient for a year and having the time to reflect now, moving between classrooms is both an organisational nightmare and tiring so I am delighted to have gained this extra space.

When you walk into a room that will be yours, you are gaining a blank canvas which is both exciting and incredibly overwhelming. On average, it takes me five solid days of work to transform the space (and this will be the third classroom I have been in, in my two and a half years). Here is the space I walked into:


However, for me, a great classroom sets the tone for the year. A great room shows love. Love for your subject, love for teaching and, most importantly, a love for your students. Having told my team that I did not think their rooms showed the love, it was important for me to come in and show them what I meant by this so they feel the energy to create a room full of love too.

Immediately two thoughts come to the forefront: 1) What will I be teaching my students in September and what can I create that is relevant to this? And 2) What learning aids do I need at the front? (I am a strong believer in learning aids being at the front!). These two questions immediately guide the original design of my room so that what they see if both relevant and helpful.

However, as with everything in education, the nature of displays have changed since I started my career fifteen years ago so other things need to be taken into consideration. Now, a degree of interactivity is needed to support students with their learning so a third question is brought into the realm – how can my displays support students with their learning and make them more independent in their approach?

And, finally, whilst you can beautify a room and make it a creative space, nothing is more important than displaying the students’ most brilliant work.

So here it is, the building of my classroom for September 2015. Hopefully, some of these ideas will spark something in you but, rest assured, my room is not perfect. Some may argue there is too much colour and that some students might not like this – this is true – and the room is also devoid of student work currently – this will be added in term 1.

The Wonder Wall.

This idea was sparked by the brilliant @headofenglish who had created a Star Wars inspired best work board.  I sat and thought about a different theme for a few days and came up with the Oasis inspired Wonder wall.  I sourced old LPs from a charity shop at £1 each and attached these to the wall with string.  The bigger ones will have exemplary work pegged to them (pegs are from Poundland £1) and the smaller ones will recognise students who have worked hard during the week.  Finally the display was polished off with a picture of Liam or Noel (could never tell the difference and I’m sure my students might not even know who they are!).  The importance of sharing exemplary work is second to none in terms of celebrating success but also modelling a standard.  Equally, recognising good students shows care and love.

11752624_10153563889867317_6479484657960889619_nThe Ladybird and Puffin wall.

We are a school with low reading ages and so reading has to be at the forefront of a lot of work we do and, especially, fostering a love for reading.  I stumbled upon postcard packs in Waterstones and although expensive – £15 a pack – they truly are beautiful.  In the classroom I inherited, I had a wall with some graffiti on and, therefore, these were perfect to beautify a tired looking wall.  Yes, the postcards may need contextualising but no-one can argue that they don’t look lovely.


10548216_10153564060722317_5794073570783291731_oThe Sentence Starts wall.

The first of my learning aid / interactive displays.  I am sure that this idea came from Twitter – it might have stemmed from the McDonalds vocab display – but sentence structures are important so I wanted a display that recognised this.  The last time I had a classroom, I had an ISPACED display but it was quite dull and definitely wasn’t interactive.  For some reason, the idea of growing sentences came to my mind and the garden was born.  Plant pots are incredibly cheap – I got seven for £1.75 but have since seen you can also get them from Poundland.  I simply stapled these to the wall and labelled them with the different ISPACED strands.  Inside each plant plot are a range of lollipop sticks.  You will need the thicker ones but these can be got from Tescos and other places for around £1 for a hundred sticks.  Initially, I wanted different coloured ones for different year groups but these have been harder to find so I have gone with one standard lollipop and have bought stickers to signify each year group.  On each lollipop will be an exemplary sentence that will relate to the unit we are doing – e.g. year 8 ‘Whale Rider’.  This means when we come to the writing of a piece that students will be able to access exemplary sentences, if they find themselves stuck.  In addition, if a student writes a particularly wonderful sentence, I will ask them to write it onto the lollipop stick and celebrate their exemplary work.

11811462_10153578311542317_8307248828019214653_nWhale Rider display

As yet, unfinished.  However, I knew that alongside colour and interactivity, I wanted to add texture to my room and the inflatable definitely adds that!  Bargain at £5.99

11811416_10153573851787317_3618000862776427821_nDiscussion stems

After reading Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby’s excellent book, I decided to nick their discussion stems.  Nothing creates great writing better than great discussion and with critical evaluation becoming a core part of the GCSE, I think these discussion stems will really help my students confidence in approaching different interpretations.


Discussion stems

Lady Macbeth Facebook.

This idea was nicked from Twitter and I am really pleased with the result.  Students in year 9 will be analysing the character of Lady Macbeth for a literature essay and, therefore, I felt there was scope to make an interactive display which we could use to track our thoughts on her character.  All of the facebook icons are available through google images.  Students will add status updates for her character after reading an act or a particular key scene which they will also reference.  Along the sides I have placed character pictures with a reply box so that we can also trace how other characters feel about Lady Macbeth and respond to her.  I am hoping that this display will give students confidence when they come to write their essay on her.


LM facebook

LM friends

LM reply

An Inspector Calls

Fab Cluedo idea from Twitter.  Had I had more time and energy, I would have created the actual board but limited on both, I decided to simply use the characters and create Cluedo based cards.  Again the images are all taken from google and increased in size to A3.  Underneath each character, I have put key quotes – one that identifies how they knew Eva Smith / Daisy Renton and one that illustrates their response to their potential involvement in her death.  I am hoping that by having this on display students might retain these quotes.  In addition, as we practise essay responses, I will display these responses with the aim of having an essay on each character on display.


Mr Birling Cluedo Card

Mrs Birling Cluedo Card

Sheila Cluedo Card

Gerald Cluedo Card

Eric Cluedo Card

Conflict poetry.

As yet, unfinished.  I was walking through Tescos one day when I clocked that the plastic balls were on sale at £5 for 100.  I walked past them but when I got to the till, I couldn’t leave them and thought I would find a use for them somehow in my classroom.  Then the idea of comparison and conflict poetry came to mind.  Originally, I was going to hang them in the original hold they came in but when I decided I would use them in my conflict poetry display, I decided to purchase helmets.  These came from amazon for just under £5.40.  I ordered four and labelled them meaning, language, structure and tone.  I then organised the balls to match the colour of the labels and have written things like ‘patriotism’, ‘honour’, ‘simile’, ‘repetition’, ‘sadness’, ‘enjmabment’ on them.  The idea is that any given point, I will ask a student to go and take a ball from one of the four helmets and then explain with connection to two of the poems from the conflict cluster so they are practising their skills of comparison.  A quick five minute activity.


CLpiGkuXAAAT3ocAO extension and independent study

A big focus for me this year is extension and students developing a more independent approach to their studies.  I spent some time looking at the new AOs and played around with them to ensure the AOs fed through all three key stages.  Alongside the posters I have designed, I purchased 8 leaflet dispensers (slightly costly at £45) with the idea being that extension activities and exemplar essays for each AO will be added here so that students can help themselves if they complete an activity quickly or want some extra study.


Learning aids at the front 

Teachit do a fab range of posters – I purchased the word class pack – for £20 a pop.  They are good quality, large and clear for students to understand.  I then created a Tip Top small display to remind students about paragraphing and displayed the punctuation cards, which I believe are from TES.  The final learning aid I have up at the moment is for PEEFEE – yes, controversial I know – but we use it and it seems to work.  I felt it was important to have this at the front to aid students in their development of analytical paragraphs and also displayed an exemplar paragraph as well as key words such as ‘imply’, ‘connote’ etc.  I think that this will be a really useful display to help students in the writing process.






Dictionary Corner

Again, nicked from Twitter my traffic light trays – students place their work into an appropriate tray.  If they feel confident about their learning, into the green tray.  If they don’t feel confident, into the red tray and in the middle, into the amber tray.  This helps me identify whose books I should mark first.


So we are about 85% done. I still have a Blood Brothers display to do and to finish Whale Rider. I want to do a display on text types focused on structure and linguistic features and I also want to do vocabulary mobiles hanging from my ceiling. All of this, can wait for the new year though!

I hope some of these ideas have been useful and I genuinely would love to see what you are doing to your classroom – an idea shared is an idea sparked.