Review by Sonia Thompson

Headteacher, St Matthew's C of E teaching and research school

3 Oct 2020, 5:00


Sonia Thompson’s blogs of the week, 28 September 2020

New children’s literature, new early years guidance, new resources for busy teachers and a new method to develop students’ observational skills are Sonia Thompson’s top picks of this week’s education topics


Reading matters – News from the world of children’s books


Imagine walking into your favourite library and meeting your favourite librarian, who then shares the most wonderful books. Well, that’s how I feel when I read Anne Thompson’s book roundups. In this blog, Anne draws you into her bookish world with a comprehensive and eclectic mix of new books, literary events, book awards and so much more. The blog offers links to Poetry Day posters, a tribute to the much-loved author Sam McBratney, Pie Corbett’s article about storytelling and news of the immense David McKee’s BookTrust Lifetime Achievement award. With Moon Over Manifest, Anne ensures that diversity and representation are ever present. She also mentions Reading for Pleasure: The Nectar of Imagination – an event I and some brilliant colleagues just happened to be involved in – as one of her highlights of the week. The blog calls it ‘inspirational’, and that alone means Anne’s blog deserves several reads and mentions.


Assessment beyond levels in the early years: improving learning for all children


Prior to the publication this month of the Department for Education’s revised Development Matters document, some in the early years community were extremely concerned about what the changes would mean for the sector. Judging from recent comments following publication, some of these concerns have not been alleviated. As a major contributor to the document, Julian’s Grenier in this blog attempts to support the early adopters, as well as prompt discussion and dialogue across the sector. He looks at current practices and spells out the issues. He then attempts to lay out the changes, what they will mean and how they will help. What he ultimately offers is the thinking behind the document. This blog gets to the heart of the revised Development Matters and there are some messages that will please some and dishearten others. This year, the document is not statutory and as such Julian advocates that there is no need to make any changes now. Instead, he calls for a focus on implementation in a careful, measured and unhurried way. Regardless of where you stand, that at least should be welcome by all.


Chapter-by-Chapter Questions on Jekyll and Hyde


Doug is an English teacher and assistant principal (curriculum) at a secondary comprehensive school in Bedfordshire whose generosity speaks volumes. As usual for him, this blog is low key and there are few words, but what you will uncover is his prolific range of quality resources. Here, he offers a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, providing questions, vocabulary, retrieval, extracts and a timeline of key publications. He also presents a review of the main characters, assessments and literary research tasks. The blog offers a complete and thorough learning and memory workout and simply states, “I put it together for my students to work through whilst they wait for me to arrive at their bubble”. Lucky them, and lucky us.


Reading within the lines: Sentence-Phrase-Word and Other Thinking Routines


Jasmine Lane is an American educator who has firmly placed herself on my timeline due to her ResearchEd connections. She confidently establishes her viewpoints and always leaves me with something to ponder. In this post, Lane discusses a method she uses when teaching students how to analyse writing, namely an approach called See-Think-Wonder (STW), and proceeds to set out its benefits and limitations in terms of remote learning and the unusual circumstances of Covid. She defines STW as an attempt “to emphasise the importance of observation as the basis for thinking and interpretation”, and goes on to unpick her students’ reactions to her approaches. The blog leaves as many questions unanswered as it resolves, but this feels right. What it richly offers is insight into her attempts, in spite of remote learning, to make her students’ thinking conditions as “optimal as possible, because their attention and time is limited”.

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