Monthly Archives: May 2020

Blog of the Week: 22 May 2020 – Standing in awe.


What incredible times these are.  Against a backdrop of ignorant media commentary and unwarranted pressure from overly powerful people who don’t teach or run schools,   shouting from the sidelines, teachers and school leaders are doing such a phenomenal job.  It’s an immense task – reframing how schools and colleges operate, wrestling with a new raft of safety and learning challenges, external demands, parental expectations, technological and resource constraints- to provide what their students and their communities need as best they can.   And I’m in awe.  Pure and simple.

I’ve had this feeling many times before that, given what someone has achieved, you just have to stand back in awe; to marvel at what has been done; to express some gratitude and applaud.  This has been magnified since I left the frontline myself.  I know how hard it can be,  how difficult it is to get right; I know…

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Blog of the Week: Low stakes Quizzing and Retrieval Practice 4


You can find the first three posts about retrieval practice here: one, two, three.

Everyone seems to be doing retrieval practice now and there is an abundance of research  in support of the effectiveness of self-testing as a learning strategy, particularly with regards to increasing long term retention. Ever since retrieval practice has become popular amongst teachers, there has been a notable concern about how it is being approached and whether or not it really is as effective as its proponents would claim. One line of criticism is that the questions-often closed, recall questions-are nothing like the final performance that students encounter when they take an exam. Merely asking students something along the lines of ‘What word means excessive pride or ambition?’  is, on its own, not going to help students with their understanding of Macbeth. However, understanding the meaning of ‘hubris’ (even in this most restrictive…

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Blog of the Week: 1 May 2020 – Curriculum is for ever – but not how you think

Thinking about curriculum as a priority is relatively new for most of us, having lived through the poundland pedagogy years, and so it’s easy to view it as an important job to be started and finished. But this is wrong. Curriculum isn’t a task or a project. It’s not like a house you build and then move into, no further work needed. Sure you can have, and many schools and departments need, a project of “curriculum reform”. But once it’s done, it’s not done. Once you have thought hard about your curriculum, sequenced it, and codified it through booklets or whatever- you are not finished. You have plugged the gap and made significant progress- but really, you are just beginning.

The strongest departments are those with not only a well-thought out and codified plan for curriculum, but a continuous culture of discussion, debate, disagreement and exploration in the field of…

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