Andrew Old’s top blogs of the week 23 November 2015

Hello darkness, my old friend…

By @kennypieper

Do young people experience much silence in their waking lives these days? Not according to English teacher Kenny Pieper. He suspects that a lack of opportunity to sit quietly with a book might be harming their chances of developing a love of reading. This should happen in the classroom, even if silent reading is not seen as “sexy” teaching.

Comparative judgment: 21st century assessment

By @daisychristo

Now that levels have been abandoned, there are few more vital discussions than how to assess, particularly in subjects that don’t easily lend themselves to short-answer questions. The head of research at Ark discusses how one part of the solution might be to compare pieces of work directly, and use these comparisons as a basis for assessment.

How did teachers get the blame?

By @AnthonyRadice1

The author of this post asks whether the mechanisms for controlling and monitoring teachers do any good. He doubts that such methods can improve teaching even where there are problems to be fixed: “There cannot be large-scale improvement while the culture of surveillance and suspicion from above, and fear and distrust from below, continues. Teachers have to be won around to more effective methods, not by clubbing them over the head, but by providing training, resources and support that show them, in a concrete way, how things can be done better.”

This much I know about…the merits of students copying from the board

By @johntomsett

This post, like the one about silent reading, is a defence of a practice that might often be frowned upon: making students copy writing from the board. However, it’s with a specific purpose in mind. John Tomsett argues that copying his writing, as he answers a lengthy exam question, and listening to him explain what he is thinking as he writes it, is a highly effective method for his sixth-form students to understand and practise the pace of work they will need to cope with in their exams.

My thoughts on micromanagement

By @MrsCrossan19

Speaking from the perspective of somebody who has been teaching in the UK for a couple of years, this Canadian blogger has decided that the one thing that makes teaching here a tough prospect is the lack of autonomy: “With an increasing number of teachers citing workload as being the top factor influencing their decision to leave the profession, why is it that management still thinks it’s their place to tell us how to structure our time to cope with our workload?”

Lesson observations in secondary school

By fish64

This anonymous head of department doubts the effectiveness and fairness of lesson observations. The subjectivity of what good teaching looks like, and observers who lack the relevant subject knowledge, mean that the judgments made are often without real value.

The curse of zombie-Ofsted

By @emc2andallthat

A science teacher discusses the walking dead, in the form of ideas about Ofsted that simply won’t die, no matter how many times Ofsted try to bring them down: “To be fair to Ofsted, they have attempted to lay these walkers to rest by publishing clear and unequivocal guidance about their expectations about such nonsense as ‘minimal teacher talk’ or ‘every lesson must include group work’, and so on, but even such a well meaning stake-through-the-heart has made seemingly little headway…”