Review by Robin Conway

Director of research and innovation at John Mason School, Oxfordshire

11 May 2019, 6:00


Robin Conway’s top blogs of the week 6 May 2019

Research leads . . . what is all the fuss about?


The case for research in education is clearly and effectively laid out here. However @MissLLewis makes a powerful argument reflecting on the experience of poor-quality CPD and the risks of professionals acting in certain ways “just because” they believe themselves to be right. She shows how research can be used to give us our “best bets” when helping children to learn, more so with effective critical engagement. To help with this, she shares the questions that she finds supports the critical consumption of research and explains how a research lead can help teachers to access high-quality research to develop their teaching.


Examples of dual Coding in the classroom


@87History’s blog is a perfect way into thinking about dual coding. The concepts are clearly, but knowledgeably, explained with links to useful instructive videos and wider reading. At the heart of the piece is a range of examples from the classroom that demonstrate the application of this idea and that clearly sustain the author’s argument that it is suited to a range of ages and attainment levels. This piece makes a great introduction to dual coding, but also contains several useful reflections and great links for anyone considering how to make more of this strategy.


Something that helped with caring for my voice as a teacher


@amymayforrester tends to offer clear, practical advice based on her own experiences. Here she touches on an issue that is too often overlooked in teacher training, or other well-being discussions around teaching. Too often teachers feel the need to push on and not make a fuss, especially over something as “insignificant” as a sore throat. And yet, as @amymayforrester points out, “no voice, no job”. I know of a number of teachers who have experienced serious consequences from misusing their voices or pushing themselves too far – to the point of needing surgery and several months’ out of teaching in one case. And yet I think I’ve broken every single piece of advice here – some without even realising I was doing the wrong thing. @amymayforrester is clear that she is not offering medical advice, but she is sharing the things that helped her. After all “When your voice is your job, it pays the bills. Look after it and treat it with care and respect. It’s the most powerful thing you have.”


Ramble #9:  #TeamBoxSet


In HMCI Commentary: curriculum and the new education inspection framework  Amanda Spielman noted that: “Too many teachers and leaders have not been trained to think deeply about what they want their pupils to learn and how they are going to teach it.” I’m not sure that this piece analogising curriculum design to creating Game of Thrones is what she had in mind, but it certainly makes an interesting start. The “box set” analogy is a well-constructed one that conveys some important ideas about curriculum design and planning.  The importance of having an overall plot arc, spanning the whole series and individual seasons (years) also needing careful construction is memorable and effective. The idea of “sowing the seeds” of the main narrative is ingenious and one I intend to take back into my planning.  For those of a less esoteric bent, @Mr_AlmondED then links his ideas to more conventional educational research, particularly Rosenshine’s principles of instruction.  However, underpinning it all is his key idea that, too often, the curriculum is like “The Simpsons – just one individual episode and when it is over is never referred to again, it needs to be a Game of Thrones.”


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