Monthly Archives: October 2019

Blog of the Week: 18 October 2019 – An “Ah-Ha” Moment with Spaced Practice in the Classroom

I’m sometimes asked by other teachers how I show my students the positive effects of spaced practice. By definition, it takes time to see the results of spacing out your practice of material and this fact makes it more difficult to demonstrate in class. This past week, however, I was granted that perfect moment of instruction when it all came together and I was able to say, “See…I told you this stuff works.”

Please allow me to set the scene. We began class one day this week by completing a ‘Last Lesson, Last Week, Last Month’ review. Here it is:

I combined answering these questions with the ‘Color Coding Recall Attempts’* strategy.

Pretty simple. Answer three questions from differing units of material spaced out over different amounts of time. Intuition tells me my students should remember the material …

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Blog of the Week: 11 October 2019 – The #1 problem/weakness in teaching and how to address it.


I see a lot of lessons – hundreds of them in multiple contexts – and I’m going to suggest that there is one very common challenge that teachers face that is often not addressed well enough, even by experienced teachers. In my view, it’s the single biggest reason for lessons being ineffective or certainly less effective than they could be; it’s the main reason for learning not happening, for weaker students to fall behind and, over time, for gaps to widen. The prevalence of this issue is the main reason I feel we do more to address the needs of disadvantaged students and under-achieving subgroups by trying to teach everyone better instead of chasing interventions (To address underachieving groups, teach everyone better.). There’s just so much mileage in this; so much slack to take up.

The problem is this: In a class of multiple individuals, it is not…

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Blog of the Week: 4 October 2019 – Whole-class reading: how I do it

A Chemical Orthodoxy

For me, booklets have been a game-changer. The combination of lean explanations, worked examples and plentiful practice have made sure my lessons run smoothly and student productivity is maximised, and I wrote about how I use them day-to-day here. This year, I’ve been teaching GCSE biology, which is a new experience for me. My subject knowledge isn’t great as despite having taught physics and chemistry to GCSE, I’ve never done biology. The booklets I’ve been using were put together by Adam Robbins, and they feature a number of passages of extended text. I think teachers (and students) can be put off by passages of challenging text like the below, so I wanted to write about how I’ve approached them to ensure that everyone is engaged and thinking throughout. You don’t need to read the whole passage to get this blog, but it’s important to see the rigour and…

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