Review by Andrew Old

6 May 2016, 6:00

Andrew Old’s Top Blogs of the Week 2 May 2016

Purple praise: a spoon full of sugar helps the marking go down

By @Xris32

We all know that praise in marking is a good thing, don’t we? Many marking policies assure us that children need a “what went well” or “two stars” to encourage them. Not true, says the English teacher who wrote this post.

Personalised learning harms children

By @katie_s_ashford

Do children need to do different work or work in different ways? This polemic argues that differing expectations may let students down: “Is it unreasonable to ask that every child is given the same access to the same curriculum at the same pace with the same high quality teaching? Is it unreasonable to ask that every child is pushed as far as possible every single lesson, every single day? Is it unreasonable to want the best for every child, to believe that every child can achieve?”

Getting it right on academies

By @conorfryan

A former adviser to David Blunkett analyses the proposal to academise all schools. While he has been supportive of academies in the past, he can see no reason why a successful school should have to change. He also gives an overview of what has been good and bad in academies policy so far.

Finding a voice

By @bennewmark

This post describes the advice that a history teacher received on how to improve his teaching following observations. He explains why it did not help at all, and actually reduced the amount of learning of his students. He complains that it was based on the idea that all teachers should teach the same way. “Training should begin by exposing prospective teachers to a range of styles but the aim should be to help them to find their own voice. Once they’ve found it, we should help them to develop it. We shouldn’t try to make them sing our song.”

The ten things you need to do to ensure all pupils do well at school, From

This anonymous blogger attempts to identify what makes a school successful for all its students. Some items on the list, such as good discipline and high expectations, are perhaps obvious and are explained in more detail. Other suggestions may surprise you.

By @Trivium21c

The debates about progressive and traditional teaching have gone on for most of the past century in most subjects. However, I was not familiar with the disputes in drama teaching in the late 80s and early 90s. The very idea that drama was an art came under attack from those who thought its value was political, therapeutic or pedagogical.

“Children hate your music lessons!”

By @iQuirky_Teacher

This post is a discussion of how to raise expectations for primary music. The writer, a music subject co-ordinator, compares her beliefs about music teaching to those of her senior leadership; team. She believes that all children should be given the opportunity to learn to read music and play an instrument. Her SLT believes that children should “sing their way to high self-esteem”.

Adverbs and opportunities

By @jemmaths

This is one of those posts where somebody specialising in one area of education (secondary maths) talks about the expectations in another (primary spelling and grammar). If there is an explanation as to why a seven-year-old cannot know what an adverb is, or why 11-year-olds cannot learn any grammar beyond general knowledge, this writer cannot see it. “Primary teachers are exhausted, coping with more curriculum change than most of us, with less non-contact time to do so . . . but that is no reason to lose sight of the opportunity here: we can raise the bar”.

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