Blogs for the Week Ending 1st February 2014

Hello my Englishplanner blog. I know I have been ignoring you lately; I’ve been busy. I’ve been feeling a bit shell-shocked and weary: we have been through Ofsted; ‘Inadequate’ was splashed across the front page of the local paper; numbers of pupils on role has fallen and the hedge fund academy managers have moved in.
I’m starting to feel a little better and may soon get back my enthusiasm. Putting a little distance between myself and the job, especially engaging in a couple of MOOC courses, has helped me refocus. I feel I may be back on track soon.
Thanks for waiting for me.

The Echo Chamber

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The Spelling Bookmark

So simple and yet…… Well, actually, lets wait and see what the impact is.

  • Differentiated – Students develop from their own spelling errors
  • Self Managed – They take the initiative to find correct spelling and write down the words.
  • Collaborative – They ask others for help with accurate spelling





Personal target cards

I haven’t used it yet but it’s on the list for the coming week. When I mark their books, I shall be writing out cards. THIS POST IS EVIDENCE OF MY INTENTION.

An idea that I’ve adapted from Paula Waller at Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing yesterday, whilst watching her Year 10 English lesson

Maybe better than targets in planners or in their books as they are physically on the table and therefore, difficult to ignore.

One target, one card but what to put on cards? And, what is the maximum number of cards a student should be dealing with? How often should the problem be witnessed before issuing an intervention card?

The rules on one side, examples on the other.

Teacher keeps a tally of who has which targets (cards). Set up thing in excel.

Examples – these are general. It would be easy, with a set of blank cards, to make them more specific for different students.

I will spell unadventurous words accurately (a spelling bookmark for dyslexics/weak spellers)
I will use a wider range of vocabulary
I will use full stops at the beginning of sentences
I will use full stops for proper nouns (names of people, places, months and days)
I will use full stops at the end of an idea.
I will use commas to break up details about an idea.
I will avoid comma splicing (using commas when I should use full stops).
I will use a wider range of punctuation (. , ? ! – () ; : …)
I will use speech marks accurately.
I will use colons and semi-colons accurately
I will read over my work to make sure I have expressed myself clearly.
I will use a wider range of sentence lengths (short and complex sentences)
I will use a wider range of sentence types (statement, exclamation, command, question)
I will vary the openings of my sentences (connectives, ly, ing and ed words)
I will start with a hook.
I will use TiPToP to organise my paragraphs.
I will use a variety of paragraph lengths.
I will use a topic sentence and develop detail (describe, explain, example) in my paragraphs.
I will make links across my paragraphs so my writing flows.

I will use the reading strategies to help me access a text independently (skim, scan, read backward and forwards, ask questions, predict, deduce, infer, synthesise).
I will think carefully about the question I am being asked and predict the answer.
I will base my point on the question I am being asked.
I will identify a relevant example, from the text, to support my point.
I will identify relevant examples, from different places in the text, to support my point.
I will explain how my example(s) support(s) the point I am making.
I will analyse my examples and link them to my point.
I will use semi-colons to show links in my ideas.
I will use complex sentences to show complex ideas about the text (start with despite, although, because etc)

New words

From Isabel Beck’s book Bringing Words to Life, give them the definition and let them play

Instead of saying: “Does anyone know what mimic means?” Say: “To mimic means to imitate someone but in a way that’s sometimes playful and often mean-spirited. Tell me an animal you could mimic easily [and insist they use mimic in the sentence?] Good, when might you get in trouble for mimicking? Good, when might it be ok to mimic someone? How is imitating someone different from mimicking them? Why might someone mimic their little brother or sister. Good, now write me a sentence about a gorilla in a zoo mimicking a person. Go.” Word play, using the word 10 times in various ways, is the way to master vocabulary,

Ms S's Stuff

Communicating and adapting language

Strand 2.1 To appeal to listeners, challenge their views and assumptions and provoke thought by selecting and deploying skills from a repertoire of verbal and non-verbal techniques.

It’s not enough to present a ream of facts and figures – you’ve got to have an opinion!

Band 1 – Briefly express pov, ideas and feelings

I have an idea about the subject I will be presenting.

Band 2 – Extended and coherent pov, ideas and feelings but straightforward

Band 3 – Effective ideas, promoting pov and feelings

Band 4 – Confident pov, emphasising significant points

Band 5 – Highlights priorities of complex subject matter

Student Planning Grid

1213 planning using SOLO

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Training them to talk ‘SOLO’

When we are engaged, how can we not see links in all we do? Coincidently, as I was thinking about putting this post together, I experienced a Twitter distraction that took me to a good practice film on the Ofsted site which advocates the importance of getting boys talking.

Regardless of supporting or opposing evidence, I believe working in an all boys school does have different advantages and drawbacks and getting most of them to talk in the abstract is challenging.  So, it’s going to be a joint endeavour. I am going to better learn how to teach it and they hopefully, are going to better learn how to talk it. And, I’m going to be planning my lessons with ‘SOLO’ in mind.

And I’m going to start by test driving these game cards in my lessons – guided them from the multistructural (column 1) to the relational (column 2), and from the relational (column 2) to the extended abstract (column 3).

For sure, they will struggle making links across some of the pathways. Hopefully, this should lead to interesting conversation and a realisation of the importance of selecting the most appropriate examples in their exams.

If anyone takes this up and has constructive comments for improvement. PLEASE let me know.

GCSE Of Mice and Men

Q7c making linksGCSE Macbeth Edexcel Q2b

1213 Q2b Links


GCSE Macbeth Edexcel Q2c 1213 Q2c Links

Year9 Gothic Horror Genre

1213 L1 links

Thanks for reading.

Going ‘SOLO’ with an intro to Gothic Horror

This is going to be messy – but it’s time to make a start.

Today, with huge thanks to The Learning Spy, I tried to get my meagre think-tank around something I had seen bandied about Twitter for some time: SOLO Taxonomy.

Here are the basics of what I’ve read:



The student knows nothing about the subject.

STUDENT: I don’t know anything



The student knows one thing about the subject. Many students may share their knowledge which will move the group on.

STUDENT: I know one thing.

VERBS: define, label, match, select

FEEDBACK: How could you demonstate ‘multistructural’ knowledge?



The student knows several things about the subject

STUDENT: I know several things.

VERBS: list, describe, complete,

FEEDBACK: How have you demonstrated ‘multistructural’ knowledge? How could you demonstrate ‘relational’ knowledge?



The student can link knowledge to make new ideas

STUDENT: I can find links and connections between the things I know to come up with new ideas.

VERBS: sequence, classify, explain (provide hexagons/triangles), question, analyse, apply, predict

FEEDBACK: How have you demonstrated ‘relational’ knowledge? How could you demonstrate ‘extended abstract’ concepts?



The student can apply knowledge in hypothetical ways.

Student: I can go beyond the subject and link my knowledge to other concepts to come up with new ideas (depends on BIG multistructural base of knowledge). I can suggest reasons why…

VERBS: evaluate, justify, generalise, argue, design, construct, perform

FEEDBACK: How have you demonstrated ‘extended abstract’ concepts?

(Images from )


  • UNISTRUCTURAL – Who is Shakespeare?
  • MULTISTRUCTURAL – What did he do and why?
  • RELATIONAL – What things did he write about?
  • EXTENDED ABSTRACT – Does he influence modern writers?
  • UNISTRUCTURAL -What is Macbeth?
  • MULTISTRUCTURAL – What do I know about power in Macbeth?
  • RELATIONAL – What were the consequences of seeking power?
  • EXTENDED ABSTRACT – What can we learn about misguided ambition from this play?
  • UNISTRUCTURAL -What is a sentence?
  • MULTISTRUCTURAL – What are the different elements of a sentence?
  • RELATIONAL – What are the effects of varying the order of those elements?
  • EXTENDED ABSTRACT – How can writers use sentence structures to make their work more interesting?

And here is my attempt at the EXTENDED ABSTRACT:

The Thrill of Gothic Horror

A lesson introducing Victorian reactions to the genre

(Fighting back against the annual plethora of ‘Zombie Killer’ stories)


  • The answer: Bats, gravestones, ghosts, arched windows.
  • What is the question?

Share objective

  • To explore the context of the gothic horror genre

Share outcomes

  • I know some features of the gothic horror genre
  • I can link the features to events in history and society
  • I can generalise on the popularity of the genre at that time.



  • T models the ‘making links’ game on IWB
  • Sts play in groups (weaker sts play in teams, directed by T, on IWB)

1213 L1 links

Extended Abstract

  • Sts create a poster ‘Why the Victorians liked Gothic Horror’.

Sts RAG outcomes and discuss learning.

Do Children want to learn?

The Guardian posed the question ‘Is the curriculum putting students off learning?’ which lead to ‘Do children want to learn?’

Isn’t it a condition of basic survival that we are created to learn? So, of course children want to learn but, should it be enough that we say ‘You need to know this’ and they sit down and learn it? Isn’t it our job to put them in a situation where they realise they NEED to learn something – other than to pass a test?

I’m new to expressing these ideas but… isn’t the process of learning and wanting to learn cyclic? We use something until we exhaust its possibilities and then we look for something more appropriate/sophisticated which we use until we exhaust it. If a replacement doesn’t exist, we have to be creative and invent it. For example, we use apps until they no longer satisfy our needs when we look for a new one. If the new one doesn’t exist, then (if we know how) we create it – and if we’re lucky, we’re quids-in.

Similarly with punctuation (got a problem mixing semi-colons and 12-year-olds at the moment), we use full stops capital letters until we can do joined up thinking then we need something more and the more our thinking becomes joined up, the broader our need of punctuation.

Maybe I think like this because I raised sons who were very selective and economical with their commitment to school work but quickly learned computer games, musical instruments and software, photography and graphics programs from Youtube, blogs and forums – and books. They needed to learn for a project they’d set themselves (nothing to do with school) – so they learned. And I’m sure this contributed to them becoming more literate young men – building on what teachers had started of course.

I will have to develop this idea further with more joined up thinking, but at the moment it meets my needs. And, although it exposes the limit of my ‘achievement’  in this area, I know where to find it when I feel ready to show ‘progress’.

If you got this far, thanks for reading.

APP WAF6 – Competitive Punctuation Points

How DO you get the ‘darlings’ to punctuate without the dispiriting ‘I’ll put it in when I’ve finished, Miss’?

In my experience, the stats that say boys don’t like to write is wrong. Speaking generally, they like to write IF they can write about something that interests them but, it seems they’re not too concerned about helping out the reader. They have something to say and they want to say it as quickly as possible – no time for distracting technicalities such as punctuation. However, adding a competitive element is always conducive to encouraging desired behaviour and for that, I am always on the lookout for good ideas.

Skimming through Twitter the other day, I came across this fab idea that is being promoted by @DeputyMitchell. And, although it was presented as a primary resource, I NEED it in my KS3 and KS4 classes – especially for encouraging those C/D borderline students who are just on the cusp of moving into using a variety of meaningful syntax.

It’s quick, it’s easy and more encouragingly, it generates winners. Also, on laminated sheets, they can be used over and again.

punctuation points

And futhermore, it generates conversation and uses numeracy.