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15 of the Best Education Blog Posts you Should be Reading Today

We've rounded up our most popular blog posts on Teachwire and put them all in one place, so if you happened to miss any of them make sure to give them a read...

  • 15 of the Best Education Blog Posts you Should be Reading Today

1 | What’s the use of Handwriting?


Jane Medwell, David Wray and the Write Your Future campaign

Professor Jane Medwell, director of teaching and learning, School of Education, University of Nottingham, and Professor David Wray, professor in literacy, Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick, highlight academic evidence that handwriting is an essential foundation for children’s learning.

Handwriting is an important part of writing composition, and a language act, rather than just a motor act used to record writing.

According to a survey of 2,000 people, one in three people had not written anything by hand in the previous six months. This issue, however, is not restricted to adults but is also apparent in our education system.

For example, in the US, education authorities appear to have accepted this decline, with cursive writing being dropped from the Common Core Curriculum Standards, following the evidence that students tend to take notes on their laptops, rather than via handwriting.

Why has the role of handwriting, and by extension, its teaching, become so diminished?

Read the full article here.


2 | Messing About With The Reggio Emilia Approach – It’s Not All Clean And Minimalist


Suzanne Axelsson

Suzanne Axelsson (@SuzanneAxelsson) is an ECE consultant living in Stockholm and is currently working on a book about listening and training teachers in learning through play in Jenin’s Refugee Camp, Palestine. Her blog interactionimagination.blogspot.se is full of great ideas for EY practitioners.

What looks like chaos to you might be a source of creativity to young learners, so don’t be so quick to clear things away

Most often when people think of a Reggio Emilia Approach classroom they think of a beautiful room, natural materials and an orderly aesthetic. And yes, there is an element of truth to this, but it is not the whole story. Learning is not orderly or aesthetic, it is organic and that means it can get messy, it can get chaotic, and that is perfectly fine.

For me, being “Reggio inspired” is about ideas, about connecting ideas, expanding ideas, interacting with each others’ ideas, building ideas – and doing this collaboratively. This means we need to get prepared for mess – to explore, to discover, to make mistakes and try again.

Read the full article here.


3 | Turn Pupils Into Mathemagicians With These Creative Ideas For Maths Clubs


Jo Morgan

Maths specialists will no doubt know teacher, blogger and resource sharer Jo (@mathsjem) through her excellent website resourceaholic.com. She’s also on the TES Maths Panel and the AQA Expert Panel, and is an FMSP Associate and SCITT Maths Lead.

Getting kids hooked on maths can be a bit of a task, but with these excellent ideas you’ll always have an ace up your sleeve

The extracurricular offering of most schools typically includes music, languages, art and PE. But some children would like nothing more than to attend a maths club.

A good maths club should make maths engaging and enjoyable, raise the profile of maths in school and support pupils to improve subject knowledge, attitudes to maths and self-confidence.

In this article I will share some of the wonderful maths clubs that schools are running all over the world, and ask that you leave a comment to tell us about the clubs you run too.

Read the full article here.


4 | Bring Multiplication Tables to Life With Real-World Examples – From Animal Legs to Eggs in a Box


Karen Wilding

Author and speaker Karen (@karenwildingedu) runs Karen Wilding Education, which offers specialist maths training for teachers, senior leaders, teaching assistants and parents to ensure all children are given the opportunity to be successful, lifelong learners in maths.

Times tables are more important than just memorising sums, they can form the groundwork for greater mathematical understanding…if taught right

With regards to learning mathematics, possibly one of the few things everyone agrees on is the importance of knowing multiplication facts. However, why we need them and how best to learn them remain hot topics debated over the ages.

Having multiplication facts as a key part of our ‘mathematical tool box’ is hugely important because we use them constantly in everyday life. Sadly, for most children the reason to learn these ‘times tables’ is not focused upon this, but on learning facts rote style to pass a class test, something that turns them off this wonderful subject altogether.

Read the full article here.


5 | Combating Toxic Masculinity In Our Schools – Un-Teaching Gender Stereotypes For Boys


Dr Finn Mackay

Dr Finn Mackay (@finn_mackay) is Senior Lecturer of Sociology at University of the West of England, specialising in contemporary British feminism and activism, feminist theory, male violence against women and women’s liberation. You can find Dr Mackay at finnmackay.wordpress.com.

There’s no biological reason boys should like cars, but there is one for boys to cry, it’s called human expression and development

Today there are still articles doing the rounds about how to teach boys, or what helps in getting boys to read earlier, or whether boys’ hands really do naturally hurt when holding a pen for too long.

I propose that it is time to take off our superhero capes and lay down our gun-shaped sticks! Boys are not from Mars and girls are not from Venus; our children are human beings, with equal capacity and need for loving and caring. Of course there are important pedagogical insights when it comes to teaching boys, as with girls, but this is not because of genetic differences in boys, it is because of what society has done to them.

The expectations and restrictions of gender are learned early on and mean that children scrutinise and police their own behaviour and the behaviour of others – they police their styles, clothes, manner, speech and expression, and learn that there are certain, sex-specific ways interests and hobbies which are out of bounds.

Read the full article here.


6 | Boost Reading Comprehension Using Song Lyrics


Matt Dix

Matt Dix is a Year 6 teacher and one third of Mr A, Mr C and Mr D (@MrACDpresent), a musical trio who create literacy, maths and science songs and accompanying resources. Check out their website at mracdpresent.com where you can buy their book 40 Lyric Reading Comprehension.

Sing your way through SATs with Matt Dix’s guide to using popular music to increase children’s literacy skills

There’s been much research of late describing the benefits of mixed-ability teaching, as well as whole-class reading. One thing has always annoyed me when collating reading resources, though, is the dreaded reading comprehension! Much like how an independent writing task doesn’t improve writing, neither does an independent reading comprehension task. This is why more and more practitioners are focusing on key skills in a more-organised fashion.

Take @redgierob from The Literacy Shed, who has come up with the memorable mnemonic of VIPERS (Vocabulary, Infer, Predict, Explain, Retrieve and Summarise) or @templarwilson’s DERIC (Decode, Explain, Retrieve, Interpret, Choice).

So, with all of this in mind, where exactly did it all take me? Well, as a teacher with a huge passion for music of all genres and ages, it occurred to me that that the lyrics to many famous songs work as both narratives and poems.

Read the full article here.


7 | The Top 5 Christmas Gifts for Maths Teachers This Year


Jo Morgan

Jo’s second entry in this list (as if you needed any more evidence of her popularity) is a festive feast for maths teachers, listing some of the coolest maths-related Christmas presents they might receive come December 25th.

‘Number 1 Teacher’ mugs won’t cut it for maths specialists, they know the statistical unlikelihood of that statement. But fear not, there are loads of great gifts to go get this December

How wonderful to have the opportunity to buy a gift for maths teacher at Christmas. Most maths teachers are very easily pleased – anything vaguely mathematical will make them happy, and nice stationery for school makes a great stocking filler!

Thankfully there are so many awesome mathsy gifts available, you’re spoilt for choice. Here are five of the best gifts for maths teachers this Christmas…

Read the full article here.


8 | A Growing Vocabulary Is The Key To Unshackling Children’s Minds


Nick Hart

Nick Hart (@MrNickHart) is a headteacher, consultant and trainer, specialising in English, maths and professional learning. You can find him at thisismyclassroom.wordpress.com.

“The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.” Ludwig Wittgenstein

I’ve always been fascinated by the point at which a child with EAL switches from thinking and dreaming in their mother tongue to English. At that point, they’ll may have a wide enough vocabulary to get by, but take a moment to think of all the situations for which they do not yet have the language. As teachers, it’s vital we provide all children with the lexical dexterity to make sense of the world and to communicate their understanding.

Small children’s vocabularies do grow quickly as they hear and experiment with words, and as they get older, books open up a whole world of new words. This may not be enough though, so explicitly teaching vocabulary can vastly improve reading comprehension and more importantly, unshackle the mind to comprehend the many wonders of the world. What follows is some advice on how to teach vocabulary so that it sticks.

Read the full article here.


9 | Eight Mistakes Schools Make Teaching the Bar Model Method In Maths (and How to Avoid Them)


Mohi Uddin Ahmed

Mohi Uddin Ahmed is a Singapore maths consultant and trainer for The Bar Model Company, an experienced team that helps schools and organisations across the country. Check out its Singapore maths videos on Vimeo here.

From choosing the right model for questions to using the CPA approach, make sure your Singapore Maths teaching is picture perfect

So, you are thinking of introducing bar models to your school? It’s an exciting feeling, but there are a few things to consider before implementing the approach, and a few more points to cover while your teachers are formally introducing bar models to pupils in your school.

As we visit more and more schools trying to introduce the bar modelling approach in their settings, we can see that many are making a number of mistakes. Thus, after the initial eagerness to reveal a fantastic strategy to staff and children, it can quickly feel like an uphill task. So, what are these mistakes, and how do you get past them?

Read the full article here.


10 | “Dear NQTs” – A Welcome Letter From Your Friendly, Slightly-Controlling And Data-Driven Head


Fake Headteacher

Read more from the Fake Headteacher at headteacher-newsletter.com or on Twitter at @FakeHeadteacher.

Ready to teach your first class with enthusiastic ideas? The Fake Headteacher has something to say about that

Dear Newly Qualified Teachers, congratulations on your new job!

You won’t be that boring teacher you remember at school. You’ll be different. Your methods will be hip and trendy. You’ll think outside the box and spend hours creating innovative and engaging lessons. Perhaps the TV adverts attracted you to the role. After all, they promise inflated salaries, and suggested that the five children in your class will be impeccably behaved.

You must be so, so excited, because after all of your training and hard work you’ll soon be allowed to independently plan, teach and nurture your very own class. The feeling is almost overwhelming, but the responsibility of choosing what and how to teach is what makes the job so rewarding. Maybe that’s how you came to be an NQT.

Now for a reality check.

Read the full article here.


11 | Teacher Workload – It’s Time to Stand Up and Just Say No


Sarah Bedwell

Sarah Bedwell (@FlyMyGeekFlag) is a former English and now non-specialist Science teacher in the North West. You can find her at flyingmygeekflag.wordpress.com.

Schools, heads, teachers and students are all under pressure and workload is an ever-increasing issue. But it really doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s 9pm on a Saturday. It’s cold outside, and it’d be an ideal time to be watching a movie or reading. Alas, what’s in front of me is piles of books, folders and exam papers. It’s our subject review next week, I’m being observed on Monday and there are learning walks on Tuesday. As a result, my weekend is decidedly less leisurely than normal.

As a teacher, I know that high workload is crippling teachers across the country. Endless marking (books, mock exams, assessments, single marking, triple marking, upside-down-standing-on-your-head marking…), changes to specifications, SATs preparation, Ofsted preparation, appraisal, reviews, learning walks and scrutiny of every aspect of teaching often mean that the actual teaching portion of the job is the smallest focal point of any day.

But it really doesn’t have to be that way.

Read the full article here.


12 | Truths, Myths and Misconceptions About Maths Mastery


Tony Staneff

Tony Staneff is the mastery team leader at White Rose Maths and series editor of Power Maths Key Stage 1, a whole-class mastery programme that has recently joined the list of recommended textbooks supporting teaching for mastery in maths in England.

Tony Staneff lifts the lid on five of the most common misconceptions around this much-discussed approach to maths…

Does mastery have to be East Asian? How do we cover the whole curriculum if we are teaching topics in greater depth? How can we afford to change our approach to maths? These are just some of the questions I hear time and time again in relation to the teaching of maths mastery in England.

I know that when taught well, the mastery approach to maths can empower pupils to work hard and succeed by tackling the same concepts at the same time, leading to deeper learning and understanding for every child in the classroom. That said, there is still varying levels of understanding as to what the approach actually entails.

Here I address five of the most frequently asked questions on maths mastery, so that you can make your own decision on whether it’s the approach you would like to embed across your school.

Read the full article here.


13 | Why it’s Time for Maths Teachers to Bin BODMAS


Owen Elton

Owen Elton (@owenelton) is a maths teacher, a writer/performer of silly songs and author of matheminutes.

Virtually every secondary school student knows the order of operations acronym, but there’s a problem; it doesn’t always work

I began my teaching career, weekly meetings with my HOD were vital for discussing pedagogy and I clung faithfully to his instructions: “Never abbreviate Cumulative Frequency”, “We always flip coins and get tails, we never toss coins and get heads”, and of uppermost importance, “We never, ever use BODMAS”.

Not using BODMAS was less easy than you might imagine. Students arrived well-versed in its application. We had to unteach it. We had to persuade rooms full of teenagers that they had to alter the fundamental tenets of their arithmetical belief system. So why on earth would we bother? BODMAS is wrong. That’s why.

Read the full article here.


14 | “No Matter How Ready You Think You Are, The Difference Is Staggering” – How I Survived My First Year As A Middle Leader


Nikki Carlin

You may know Nikki Carlin (@noopuddles) from the #TeamEnglish Twitter page, but she is also a head of English, and you can check out her blog at noopuddles.wordpress.com.

“Read all the leadership books you want, nothing prepares you for conversations with a team member about the school dress code”

This summer holiday marks the end of my first year as Head of English. Results day will suddenly hold new meaning; I’m not going to be selfishly scanning SISRA for those kids in my own class. I am no longer just part of a team; I’m leading one. The difference, no matter how much you think you’re ready for it, is quite staggering.

I’ve learnt a great deal about being a leader this year. Never assume that because you’ve got that middle leadership role that you’ve already nailed it, that you’ve got this leadership malarkey sorted. Oh no. All that successful interview means is that someone believes you have lots of potential to be a great leader – now you have to prove it.

Despite all the hurdles you will have to clear as a new Head of Department, you must remember that the school chose you for a reason. Everyone finds their own way through it but here are some of the ways I coped this year.

Read the full article here.


15 | How do you Think Child Sexual Exploitation Victims Feel Being Made to Watch CSE Films in Class?


Nicole Ponsford

Nicole Ponsford (@nicoleponsford) is an educational writer, editor, speaker and coach. She is the the co-author of TechnoTeaching: Taking Practice to The Next Level in the Digital Age, and co-founder of TechnoTeachers.

Teachwire agony aunt Nicole Ponsford tells you what you need to know about CSE

Whether it’s due to our own experiences, a lack of training, discomfort, or our beliefs, Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a topic few of us want to discuss. However, against a background of mental health cuts, it is a topic that is explored in schools, rightly so, but unfortunately all too often with dangerous naivety.

Barnardo’s states that the children most vulnerable to CSE are between the ages of 13–15, but younger children are being targeted all of the time. The NSPCC cites that CSE is often a “hidden crime” which can mean that children in your classroom are victims of it, and you have no idea.

Read the full article here.

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