Monthly Archives: June 2018

Blog of the Week: 29 June 2018 – “Do now”

Reading all the Books

I recently finished Glass Ceilings, which is my favourite education book of 2018 – so far, that is. Amongst the many, many take-aways from this book was a reminder to me of a simple but effective practice I had all but stopped. The ‘do now.’

In Glass Ceilings, Hall describes the powerful simplicity of a small number of repetitive teaching activities observed in US Charter Schools that had a dramatic impact on learning, and one was the omnipresence of a ‘do now’ so children entered a classroom and were immediately working. Hall called this ‘bell to bell working,’ which I loved.

I raved about ‘do nows’ in my early years of teaching, adopting the name after devouring Doug Lemov’s seminal Teach Like a Champion. You wouldn’t walk into my classroom without finding a slide on the board of some kind of ‘starter’ or ‘warm-up’. The idea is…

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Blog of the Week: 22 June 2018 – What if we cannot measure pupil progress?

Becky Allen

Testing and recording what students know and can do in a subject has always been part of our education system, especially in secondary schools where teachers simply cannot hold in their head accurate information about the hundreds of students they encounter each week. However, measuring progress – the change in attainment between two points in time – seems to be a rather more recent trend. The system – headteachers, inspectors, advisors – often wants to measure something quite precise: has a child learnt enough in a subject this year, relative to other children who had the same starting point?

The talks I have given recently at ResearchED Durrington and Northern Rocks set out why relatively short, standardised tests that are designed to be administered in a 45-minute/one hour lesson are rarely going to be reliable enough to infer much about individual pupil progress. There is a technical paper and a

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Blog of the Week: 15 June 2018 – Is it more important to understand than to know?

Clio et cetera

I read an interesting post by Debra Kidd today about how, in history and other subjects, we should aim not just to know, but also to understand. I have written before about knowledge and understanding, and reading the post made me reflect further on some of the problems associated with trying to make this distinction between what it means ‘to know’ something and ‘to understand’ something. I am going to use this post to explore this a little further, and set out some further thoughts on the matter.

In Debra’s post, she at one point writes about ‘naming’ and ‘understanding’. The following is a quotation:

That they can’t just name rivers and mountains, but that they understand how mankind is at the mercy of our natural environment as much as we are able to control aspects of it. 

Here, ‘naming’ is being used to indicate something basic and simplistic…

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Blog of the Week: 8 June 2018 – What is a knowledge-rich curriculum? Principle and Practice.


I have found recent discussions and debates about the concept of a ‘knowledge-rich curriculum’  – or knowledge-led; knowledge-based – fascinating.   Some of this has been explored brilliantly in various blogs.  Here is a selection:

There are also numerous blogs from Michael Fordham (Knowledge and curriculum – Clio et cetera), Clare Sealy (Memory not memories – teaching for long term learning…

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