Review by Andrew Old

31 Mar 2017, 5:00

Andrew Old’s top blogs of the week 27 March 2017

Reviewer Andrew Old shares the best of the edu-blogosphere this week.

 

The “quite tidy garden” . . . or why level descriptors aren’t very helpful
By @HeatherBellaF

Do level descriptors provide useful feedback? Probably not, according to this post by Heather Fearn, the curriculum director at Thetford Academy, Norfolk. She imagines giving her gardener instructions in the same style as the way we give students advice, telling him that he needs to move the garden along from “a little overgrown” to “well-tended”, rather than saying what needs to be done.

 

PowerPoint
By @jo_facer

Judging by the response on Twitter, this call for teachers to refrain from using PowerPoint is probably the most controversial blogpost of the week. Does its use distract from teaching, while confining students to a darkened room? English teacher Jo Facer thinks so.

 

Please, no more rubbish about times-tables!
By @jemmaths

Jemma Sherwood argues that knowing your times-tables is a vertebra in the spine of mathematical knowledge. As well as arguing that fluency with times-tables supports the learning of other knowledge, she also addresses the arguments people have given against times-table tests at the end of primary school.

 

Teach First career change
By @joannecrossley

We often think of Teach First as training recent graduates, so I was interested to hear about this teacher who worked as a barrister for 20 years before deciding to start training to become a teacher. She describes how tough it was to cope with a new career later in life, but is positive about her choice. “Now that I’m starting to find my feet, I think that this is the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s too early to say whether my pupils feel the same.”

 

There is the curriculum, and then there is the “other” curriculum
By @iQuirky_Teacher

It’s often assumed that traditional teaching is only concerned with academic outcomes, and not with making students better people or developing character. This post argues that the two goals are not in competition, and that studying helps to make one a better person, by teaching self-control and the value of hard work. “At the end of the day, this is all about the development of scholarly disposition in children and the celebration of all things scholarship.”

 

Papers Society
By @mathsjem

Maths teacher Jo Morgan describes her
efforts to change her attitude to doing practice papers before maths exams. She
set up her own “Papers Society” where students come to practise exam papers after school: “. . . it seems to be a very successful initiative for increasing the amount of exam preparation my students are doing from earlier in the year, so I thought I’d share it here in case other teachers want to try the same thing.”

 

Structured revision lessons using retrieval, spacing and interleaving
By @MissDCox

Another post on supporting students with revision activities, this time by RE teacher Dawn Cox. She is sceptical about the ability of students to organise their own revision effectively and uses principles from cognitive science to design revision sessions that ensure students revisit the same topics at suitable intervals and practise retrieving the relevant knowledge.

 

Studying with distractions
By @PsyDocCindy

Another post about applying cognitive science to studying appeared on the Learning Scientists blog. It answers the question of whether we can study effectively if people are talking around us. The (unsurprising) answer is that we don’t learn as well when we are distracted. But what is more unexpected, is that research suggests that this effect is more severe when we are studying something easy, than for something difficult.

Latest education roles from

Specialist Trainer Engineering: Electrical Installation or Maintenance, Instrumentation & Control or Mechanical Engineering

Specialist Trainer Engineering: Electrical Installation or Maintenance, Instrumentation & Control or Mechanical Engineering

Bridgwater & Taunton College

LECTURER: PAINTING AND DECORATING

LECTURER: PAINTING AND DECORATING

Milton Keynes College

LIBRARY ASSISTANT PART-TIME

LIBRARY ASSISTANT PART-TIME

Milton Keynes College

Course Leader Engineering Electrical Installation or Maintenance, Instrumentation & Control or Mechanical Engineering

Course Leader Engineering Electrical Installation or Maintenance, Instrumentation & Control or Mechanical Engineering

Bridgwater & Taunton College

Specialist Trainer: Leadership, Management, Industrial Safety or Engineering

Specialist Trainer: Leadership, Management, Industrial Safety or Engineering

Bridgwater & Taunton College

Art Technician

Art Technician

Tendring Technology College

More Reviews

Teaching One Pagers: Evidence-informed summaries for busy educational professionals

Its simplicity could be a drawback, but it is well mitigated and becomes one of its great strength

Find out more

The Conversation – with Frances Akinde

Enrichment, parental complaints, summer teacher attire, term-time holidays - and a festival

Find out more

The Conversation – with Fiona Atherton

Rising fines for school absence, deep and meaningful curriculum conversations, and growing great leaders

Find out more

More from this theme

Developing inclusive schools: Pathways to success

It represents an important call-to-arms for a sector that is highly aware of burgeoning need, limited resources and lack...

Find out more

The Conversation – with Rob Gasson

A big listen on oracy, a not-so-golden thread on recruitment and a falling out about who should and shouldn't...

Find out more

Why Learning Fails (And What to Do About It)

A refreshing, pragmatic guide full of actionable strategies for teachers to keep students learning

Find out more

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *