Andrew Old picks his top blogs of the week 21 September 2015

If constructivist teaching is the aspirin, then what exactly is the headache?

By @greg_ashman

A teacher currently studying teaching methods for a PhD asks whether some of the trendiest methods actually deal with the problems they are meant to be a solution to. Do they raise achievement? Do they improve understanding? Do they motivate? The answer, to all these questions, is probably “no”.

Is reliability becoming the enemy of validity?

By @HeatherBellaF

In this post, a history teacher takes aim at exam boards only interested in reliability in their exams, not validity. Reliability is the extent to which different examiners marking the same script give the same mark, which is an important part of fairness. However, the post argues that this should not be achieved by undermining the validity of the assessment — that is, the extent to which it actually measures the thing it is supposed to measure. There’s no point having a highly reliable history exam that actually doesn’t tell us how good somebody is at history.

A heck of a lot of posters

By @LearningSpy

David Didau asks why secondary school students, particularly in their first years,
end up making so many posters. He is also very sceptical about whether it’s a good way to express knowledge of a subject: “…we should teach our students how to express themselves like subject specialists. History teachers should teach students to write like historians; science teachers should teach students to write like scientists; English teachers should teach students to write like writers or critics.”

Horizontal vs vertical tutoring: which is best?


This is a polemical post about a topic I don’t really have strong views about: whether form groups should contain more than one year group. The writer describes how vertical tutoring can lead to the low expectations of one year group seeping through to another year group.

“Certain things then follow from that”: Notes on E.D. Hirsch’s Policy Exchange lecture

By @daisychristo

Last week I had the privilege of attending a lecture by the educationist E.D. Hirsch. Daisy Christodoulou, who was in the audience too, reflects here on the talk. She describes Hirsch’s ideas about the importance of knowledge, and the clear, coherent and evidence-based way he argues for them.

SAVE RE – from itself

By @nmckain

As many teachers know, there are plenty of great resources and helpful colleagues to be found online. In this post, an RE teacher discusses a useful forum for RE teachers to share work and resources, while also arguing that some of the people using it are a bit too willing to take advantage of the good nature of others. At what point do we move from sharing between equals to expecting others to do unpaid work for us?

Hey Teacher, leave them kids alone

By @MrDraperMaths

At times teachers feel there should be something going on in their classroom other than prolonged, silent work; that we should be interrupting our students or getting their attention. This post argues that we should be happy to sit back and let students learn, even if that means students getting used to “doing a lot of similar questions quietly”.

A Matter of style


It’s always difficult if your teaching style is not what is expected in your school. It’s far worse if you are a new teacher and it is your more experienced colleagues who are convinced that their style of teaching is superior. This post discusses the dilemma of what to do when you are expected to give up on what works for you ­— no matter how much evidence there is that it is an effective way to teach — and adopt something more fashionable.