My top resources from 2017

  1. Booklets

Originating from Michaela, who are quite rightly, very protective of their booklets, booklets are a resource sent from heaven. Yes, they are time-consuming to produce – but, without a shadow of a doubt,  they have some distinct advantages.

All your resources are in one place – no dash to the photocopier and no time spent photocopying. Everything you need is collated into one neat package. Revision books are no longer needed because it is all there in the booklet!

A pupil misses a lesson – they have everything they need to catch up. A pupil is sent out / in isolation – their booklet is ready for them.  They can be shared with parents so parents have full access to the curriculum as well.

Beautifying is a thing of the past. No time spent analysing fonts or images for a pretty powerpoint. No, instead that time is spent on enhancing knowledge and on enriching understanding. It is knowledge heavy.  It is focused.

Our booklets are evolving as we think about the strategies that suit our pupils best but the bones of what we will do for the next 4-5 years is there. Teachers love the booklets. Pupils love the booklets. They’ve been a win-win.

2. Whole class marking. 

What used to take 3 hours to mark, can now take ½ an hour and the feedback – the DIRT lesson includes some of the most thorough feedback and guidance on how to improve ever seen.

Beginning as a sheet on which to record praise, misconceptions, literacy errors and missing work, these sheets have now developed so that they can be stuck in pupils’ books and corresponding DIRT tasks created for teacher ease.

Again, originating from Michaela and then developed by Mr Thornton and once again by members of Team English including Rebecca Foster, these have dramatically changed the way we mark or should that be the way we feedback.  They have also helped to significantly reduce workload whilst not compromising on the quality of feedback pupils receive.

3. Knowledge Organisers 

This has massively influenced what I do at my academy. We have Knowledge Organisers for all the GCSE units and by July this year we will have Knowledge Organisers for all our KS3 units as well. We test knowledge weekly, using the knowledge organisers and have embedded a knowledge section within our summative assessments.

Again from Michaela, Joe Kirby originally blogged about Knowledge Organisers. A simple A4 sheet containing key knowledge with regard to texts – plot details, characters, the contextual backdrop etc etc to support the teaching of a unit.   Yes, they can be used to frame a unit – replace what was an MTP but pupils also use them to ensure their foundational knowledge is sound.  They learn sections of the knowledge organiser each week – self quiz and are then tested in school.  This regular use of a knowledge organiser and testing of such knowledge is really enhancing pupils wider understanding and improving their responses to key literary texts.

4. Do it now – recap. 

Andrew Tharby originally blogged about memory platforms and the need to interleave questioning to aid long term memory and retrieval of key texts. Rebecca Foster then developed this into the 5-a-day starter. Whilst we don’t stick to 5-a-day, we begin every lesson with recap questions and this has really helped embed pupils’ retentions of texts. I need to get better at the interleaving side of things though – a target for 2018.

5. Structure strips.  

Originating from Stephen Lockyear and then Caroline Spalding, these strips guide pupils through the writing process. They provide pupils with a structure to develop their writing across a piece and although, yes, need withdrawing to some extent by the time pupils reach year 11 (or, as an alternative, pupils creating their own), the confidence they provide pupils to tackle key questions cannot be argued against

They certainly have helped enhance my pupils’ writing for the Imaginative writing sections which brings me on to resource 6.

6. Writing

Chris Curtis blogged about the 200 word challenge which many schools have now adopted.  A block of time each week dedicated to writing 200 words with the idea that regular practice and guidance as to what to include would really help pupils develop.

Nick Wells then blogged about his approach to writing – Drop / Shift / Zoom in and Zoom out which I felt offered pupils a brilliant framework for Imaginative Writing.  Using the structure strip idea from above, I created structure strips to accompany images to help guide pupils through the process.  This has produced some simply brilliant pieces of writing and has, in turn, evolved itself into an approach to writing that I really think works. (Blogged about this previously so do check).

7. Explode a quotation

Originally from Jamie Clark, I believe. We do one quotation per lesson at GCSE. Pupils independently explode, drawing out their overall understanding and then focusing in on key techniques. Once they have done this, we feed back on to the board. Their confidence in approaching quotations has significantly developed and it is a joy to behold. Amy Forrester has done an amazing job of slicing key quotes for Macbeth and A Christmas Carol already.

So these are my seven top resources from 2017.  I would love to know what yours are and cannot wait to see what evolves in 2018.

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