Review by Harry Fletcher-Wood

5 Nov 2017, 5:00

Harry Fletcher-Wood’s top blogs of the week 30 October 2017

Blog reviewer Harry Fletcher-Wood shares his top edu-blogs of the week


Connecting and organising knowledge in English literature

Much has been written about the value of knowing texts well, Andy Tharby notes, so perhaps it’s now time to consider “how this knowledge might be connected and organised”. In this thought-provoking post, Tharby suggests that it is “often more helpful to think of ‘analysis’ as ‘connection’”. He argues that too little time is spent on “exploring the whole text and connecting the main ideas” which means that students struggle to organise their knowledge appropriately. As a result, they fail to develop “the kind of broad and conceptual knowledge that helps them to understand that a text is a construct”.

This post helped me to reconsider how I see the teaching of analysis, and offers a range of techniques teachers can use to help students make these connections.


This much I know about overcoming my prejudices to the benefit of my students

John Tomsett admits to having always found multiple-choice questions “abhorrent”, on both instinctual and ideological levels. ”The root of my prejudice is, like all prejudices, ignorance,” he suggests, showing how Daisy Christodoulou’s Making Good Progress helped him understand assessment, and persuaded him of the merits of multiple-choice questions as assessment tools.

“The results have been hugely useful… Before half term, we need to return to the market for loanable funds and quantity theory because 80 per cent of the students failed to answer those MCQs correctly.” This is a fine example of using the evidence both to change one’s mind and benefit students.


Why I love… whole-class feedback and other time-saving feedback strategies

Susan Strachan summarises the findings of a CPD feedback group within her school, which was themed on “learning, trialling and responding to a need to reduce workload for teachers across the curriculum, while also ensuring that students are able to move forward as a result of the quality of the feedback”. She discusses a range of approaches and shares examples and templates for whole-class feedback, code marking and DIRT time. Each approach “has reduced my marking time, had an impact on students understanding and focused the students on improving”.


When the revolution came for Amy Cuddy
Susan Dominus

Perhaps you’ve watched Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk; 43 million other people have. In it, she shared her research on “power poses”: sitting or standing confidently, or leaning back in a chair, hands behind head for example, which make people feel more confident, and reduce their cortisol levels, reflecting stress. This long read explores what happened when Cuddy’s study came under investigation by the “replication” movement, which first questioned and then undermined many foundational studies in psychology, rerunning (replicating) studies and disproving many of them.

This sympathetic piece tells Cuddy’s story as well as that of the replicators and works out why she became a particular lightning rod for anger; it shows how Cuddy successfully played by the rules in force in psychology, how quickly those rules changed, and the impact that has had in psychology as a whole.


Teenagers’ view of the news
New York Times opinion

A collection of recent student letters to the New York Times makes reading which is by turns angry, impassioned, thought-provoking and encouraging. Students share their thoughts on presidential behaviour, free speech, and the behaviour of lawmakers. They decry unacceptable actions by politicians, liberal weakness on free speech, and the bubbles of opinion in which they find themselves. And they encourage us to act on unpleasantness, to give young people the chance to be young and to teach young men to treat women with respect.

This is a great reflection of young people’s responses to the turbulent environment in which they find themselves.

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