Knowledge-Rich Tutoring: My Interview on the Qualified Tutor Podcast

A few weeks ago, I spoke with Ludo Millar on the Qualified Tutor Podcast about my knowledge-rich tutoring approach. Qualified Tutor is a brilliant UK organisation with a mission to raise the status and value of tutoring as a profession by establishing professional standards through sharing our best practices, and I was thrilled to haveContinue reading “Knowledge-Rich Tutoring: My Interview on the Qualified Tutor Podcast”

How to make any text relevant to your students using essential questions

The Relevance Trap It’s become the go-to question when English teachers are looking for new texts to teach: My students don’t read the books I used to assign. These old books don’t have anything to do with my students’ lives. They can’t see themselves in my usual texts. What new texts can I teach thatContinue reading “How to make any text relevant to your students using essential questions”

Beginning a unit with a preview text: Using the Amleth legend to introduce Shakespeare’s Hamlet

There’s a certain kind of student who loves to remind you that Shakespeare “stole” most of his stories from other sources, usually citing this as a reason why the bard isn’t so great after all. But this knowledge can also be used to a teacher’s advantage. I like to start off my teaching of HamletContinue reading “Beginning a unit with a preview text: Using the Amleth legend to introduce Shakespeare’s Hamlet”

Throwing out the PEEL: An Argument-based Approach to Teaching Paragraph Structure

Really, a PEEL pun? Who am I? I never liked the burger/sandwich metaphor for writing paragraphs. Sure, it looks good on a poster – but when was the last time you ate a burger bun-first, working your way through one layer of ingredients at a time? When has a mouthful of bread given you aContinue reading “Throwing out the PEEL: An Argument-based Approach to Teaching Paragraph Structure”

Kids like learning *stuff*

Figuring out what kids actually find fun has always been a struggle for me. To start with, it’s not my top priority – if something’s worth doing, I’m perfectly comfortable requiring students to do it, whether they’re excited about it or not. Still, a classroom where students are having fun is is a much happierContinue reading “Kids like learning *stuff*”

How to teach writing so students actually make progress

This book changed the way I teach writing – and everything else. When I went into my first year of teaching last year, I brought with me a hodge-podge of different approaches to teaching writing. I believed, contrary to what people kept telling me, that it was important to teach grammar explicitly and systematically, butContinue reading “How to teach writing so students actually make progress”

Literature and Literacy: What’s the point of English?

Schools make students take English for longer than any other subject. At the same time, English has become less about literature and more about literacy. Should it be? When I was in year twelve, on the heels of an exciting assignment in one subject and some less wonderful test results in another, I started toContinue reading “Literature and Literacy: What’s the point of English?”

Is Effective ‘Traditional’ Teaching Possible in Low-Decile NZ Schools?

A major theme in my thinking about my teaching this term has been confronting the realities of the context in which I am teaching, and deciding which compromises I should and should not be willing to make in the face of those realities. I’ve read and thought about a wide range of teaching approaches, fromContinue reading “Is Effective ‘Traditional’ Teaching Possible in Low-Decile NZ Schools?”

Reflections on my first novel studies

This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I may make a small commission if you purchase something through those links. This doesn’t cost you any extra, and I only link to products that I’m truly enthusiastic about. In this case, the links are all to texts that I’ve taught! My year elevens finished reading TheContinue reading “Reflections on my first novel studies”

My thoughts on the NCEA changes

I deliberately haven’t looked too much at what others have said about the NCEA changes that were announced today; I wanted to get my own thoughts straight first. Of course, that means that by the time you’ve read this I’ll probably have changed my perspective on some things, if only a little. I’m only goingContinue reading “My thoughts on the NCEA changes”