Skip to main content


The benefits of making pupils respond verbally in full sentences

 Since returning for Easter, one change I’ve been making is to insist that pupils answer questions in full sentences. I saw this on a Tweet from Lee Donaghy and Doug Lemov speaks about the ‘art of the sentence’ in Teach Like a Champion. In essence, the idea is that the more pupils practice speaking in a full sentence, the more able they will be to articulate their thoughts and improve their writing. It also highlights if pupils really understand what is being asked. A mumbled answer can mask a misunderstanding that whereas a full sentence often can’t as it requires a fuller explanation. One thing I have noticed is that even though the instruction is simply to answer in a full sentence, the outcome is that pupils expand the point they are making. In only a few weeks I’ve seen an improvement in both the amount pupils are writing as well as the quality of their essays. There are 4 points that I think are worth considering if you are trying to implement this in your own classroom:
Recent posts

first thoughts on devising an economics curriculum

  I’ve kept slightly detached from some of the discussions around curriculum that I’ve seen on blogs and CPD sessions in the last 18 months or so. This is partly because I’ve found it slightly too abstract and also that teaching Economics, I don’t have pupils for as long as most subjects so cannot devise a y 7-11 curriculum and have far less choice about what to teach. Having said that, I have recently read Kat Howard and Claire Hill’s book ‘Symbiosis’ and 'Gallimaufray to Coherence' by Mary Myatt which has inspired me to rethink how I consider the curriculum. In particular for KS4. My school start key stage 4 in year 9 so I have pupils for 3 years for their Economics GCSE. Previously I have worked sequentially through the specification but pupils ‘symbiosis’ has got me thinking about what the golden threads are that link the subject together and what the big ideas are that I want pupils to consider and how they can build on this through their 3 years of study. Before I d

Creating better assessments to give better feedback

 I’ve recently been reading the ResearchEd guide to assessment as well as re-reading ‘Making Good Progress’ by Daisy Christodoulou as I prepared to write an assessment for my Y10 Economics GCSE class. I’ve been guilty in the past of relying on exam questions to get to what Daisy talks of as being the ‘final performance.’ In essence what pupils need to get to, is to be able to provide judgements about the importance of a variety of factors on an economy or firm. In order to do this they usually need some diagrammatical analysis and explain the impacts on different agents with a logical chain of reasoning. In a final exam, the way pupils do this is by reading an extract and then writing an essay explaining their judgement based on what they have read. The problem with setting this type of a question as an assessment and then analysing the results is that pupils could get it wrong for a wide variety of reasons. It might be they struggle to understand the case study, it could be they d

The 4 most useless pieces of feedback I got as a NQT

  Since becoming a NQT mentor, I have focussed on keeping observation feedback brief and actionable. Remembering how much there is to think about and how little bandwidth there is to consider how to improve, I have tried to strip back feedback and focus on a small number of areas that are practical. One reason for this is reflecting on my own NQT experience and some of the nebulous feedback I was given. I completed my NQT year in a school with an ‘interesting’ approach to teacher development and I have recently been looking back at some of the most useless observation feedback I’ve received. I mention this not as a judgement of the observer but as a reminder of how much feedback to trainee teachers really isn’t that useful. 1.        ‘Did all kids understand what you were teaching?’ I recall constantly being asked this as a new teacher. The short answer of course is no, not all kids will ever have fully understood everything I have taught. Should I ever reach that stage I will

8 Lessons from using Booklets

  Over summer (and the March lockdown) I read blogs from BenNewmark and Adam Boxer on how to create and use booklets of practice questions as opposed to power points. It has been a real game-changer for me in terms of the amount my pupils are now practising content, the mental capacity I have during a lesson to focus on how pupils and it massively reduces workload which gives teachers time to plan for their explanations and questioning. The blogs linked above explain the advantages of using them far better than me, but I wanted to speak about the process of creating and using them for me. It has been a process of trial and error for me this year and some of the key lessons learned are: 1.        It is incredible CPD for your subject knowledge I underestimated how much creating booklets enhanced my subject knowledge. I thought I understood by subject well but when you create these booklets, you specify exactly the knowledge you want pupils to know to write questions about them

6 lessons as a new head of department

  I have just completed the end of a never-ending first term as a head of department in a small department. Being in a new role in a new school would have been enough of a challenge without having to worry about what pupils have missed during lockdown, blended learning, year group bubbles and all the rest but here are a few things that I have learned: 1.        Relieve pressure rather than passing it on Running an Economics and Business department where there is only KS4 and KS5 there is always a big focus on exams. For all the focus on spreadsheets of data and looking at ALPS scores and the like, there is a real temptation to pass on that pressure by talking about where the data is against departmental targets. One thing that I have found so important is to make sure you take that on and just allow staff to focus on the important thing, planning and delivering excellent lessons. By all means, work with staff to identify areas of focus based on assessments, but as far as possible