The strand curriculum in Year 7 biology

Christian Moore – @Biogogy

I stumbled across this when I was trawling curriculum-related blogs as research for my book on the subject. As an IB teacher, Christian Moore will be used to thinking about how big ideas and narratives connect across subjects and into broader concepts such as international-mindedness. Here, he looks at how biology content can be categorised into concepts and it’s a model that I think could apply to any secondary subject and beyond. What if, for example, an English teacher looked at this and thought about planning reading texts linked to ideas such as homeostasis, or the idea of matter being both a thing and a sense of belonging/importance? This kind of linking is not directly covered in the blog, but I think it offers ways of thinking around the idea of making connections explicit to children.

NEU Celebrating Education conference

Ed Finch – @MrEFinch

There have been a few spats on Twitter around the role of unions and the National Education Union (NEU) in particular, but little is usually said about the pedagogic and professional development support the union offers. Last Saturday the NEU took up the Northern Rocks mantra of Reclaiming Pedagogy. In this post, Ed Finch writes about the day, making the case for teachers to make best use of what the union can offer and to come together to share their expertise, ideas, innovations and experiences.

Knife crime; bad eggs or collateral damage?

Dr Chris Bagely @hiddendepths

The topic of this blog – exclusions and knife crime – is enough to keep cyberspace alight for a week. But Chris Bagely pulls no punches as he exposes some of the tensions and contradictions in the debate and wider system, asking “what are we to do when the aggressor is also a victim? Where does responsibility lie?” It’s an uncomfortable question for teachers, who are the first line of defence for many of these children and, sadly, sometimes the first line of attack. Rather than laying the blame at the feet of teachers, or competing over who works in the toughest setting, we need to focus our attention on getting the resources we need to help these damaged children and on changing the system so that schools are recognised for the work they do beyond the test.

New Zealand vigils

Andrew Moffat @Moffat_Andrew

This is just one example of many on Andrew Moffat’s blog of how challenging and upsetting events in the world can be addressed in schools with thoughtful questioning. This one looks at the attack on two mosques in New Zealand. His programme “No Outsiders” will now be known to many people, sadly not just for its ethos of inclusion, but now for the protests in reaction to the teaching of LGBT issues in primary school. As a parent who has seen her own children bullied for their sexuality, I am grateful for all the work Moffat has done. But it goes way beyond LGBT – it looks at the whole complexity of human nature, it’s diversity and some of the more difficult aspects of who we are and how we live.

Does differentiation always have to mean different?

James Bullous @DrB_SciTeacher

I have long argued the case against what I call concrete differentiation (concrete being the blocks we root children’s feet in when we refer to them as low, middle or high-ability). Now more people are starting to think about how differentiation can mean scaffolding and supporting children up rather than fixing them with tasks that are specific to their “ability”. James Bullous offers examples of how differentiation can be managed in the classroom to allow children to build their learning without ceilings being attached to what they can achieve. It’s not just better for children, it reduces workload for teachers too. Please let’s never see all/most/some must/should/could on lesson or unit plans again!