Allusion: Teach It.

All Ears

I recently awarded an A grade to a piece of descriptive writing that opened with the following phrase:

Last week, in a galaxy not too far, far away from junction 7 of the A3…

This student shunned the drab opening sentences, replete with the terminology of the question, adopted by most of his peers and decided to kick-off with an allusion. A Star Wars allusion.

Now, this allusion to Star Wars tells me a lot about this kid:

  • This kid cares about his audience. He knew that I, as an adult marker, would understand the cultural reference he was making and in making it, he allowed me access to an exclusive club that ‘gets it.’ And that made me feel good. This kid cares for his reader.
  • This kid is intelligent; he has an awareness of culture that stretches beyond the world of what is taught in the classroom, which…

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On writing essays people actually want to read…

The Learning Profession


This week I collected in some homework essays from my delightful top set year 11 class. The question asked them to explore how Shakespeare presents the witches in Macbeth at the beginning of Act 1 Scene 3 and in the play as a whole (AQA Lit Paper 1 Section A). The class has made real progress with writing well-planned, well-structured, well-focused essays and are improving with their analysis. However, although competent, lots of the essays used formulaic topic sentences and the introductions were dry. I read time and time again that, ‘In Shakespeare’s Macbeth the witches are presented as….’. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with this, I want to push my students to work on developing a voice and writing in a way which makes their essays interesting to read. I promise this is not an entirely selfish pursuit (though I am the person that has to read them all).

In the past…

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Why I love…Twitter Revision


Why I love… Twitter Revision

I’m sure that we are not the first English department to use Twitter to promote English Revision, but I haven’t heard about it yet, so I thought I’d share our newly launched #revisechurchilleng.

Last term we discussed and debated how to make better use of our Twitter page and how to make it a more valuable tool for information on English and to make Twitter work for revision. Myself, @DaveG5478 & @ MrKingscote spoke about this on several occasions and what we came up with was the idea that we would somehow tweet resources, questions and quotes regularly in order to promote the interleaving of revision. We will also extend this and start tweeting models and examples, but are taking it one step at a time.

That was how the idea for  #revisechurchilleng was created. However, I still wasn’t sure how to implement it, as I wanted…

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Brain Gym (don’t worry, it’s not).

Round Learning


This is a picture of the gym at my school, right at the end of a mock examination. I took this picture to help my Y11 students with learning quotations. I did this same exerciselast yearand it worked. I know it worked because they came out of the examination and told me that it worked – they managed to retain several quotations, taking inspiration from their surroundings. I did this after a Y11 student told me that she ‘can’t think ofanything in the gym. It’s so dull!’ She posed a challenge for me. We all went down to the gym (in the last 5 minutes of the lesson) and they took photos of the place. They actually did this from their seating position in the room.

Nest lesson, weplanned how the quotations from one scene would fit with what they could see around them. They then went…

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“Super, smashing, great” – modelling the language of evaluation: superlatives (part 2)

Mark Roberts Teach

Those of you of a certain age will remember – fondly or otherwise – the 1980s ITV game show Bullseye. It was a Sunday evening staple in my grandma’s house, a winning combination (for an 8-year-old anyway) of darts, or rather ‘arrers’ in Yorkshire, not-too-taxing general knowledge questions, glamorous prizes, such as Breville toastie makers, and its affable, diminutive host Jim Bowen.


Dour and deadpan, Jim became best known for his anodyne catchphrases: the rhyming couplet’stay out of the black and in to the red, there’s nothing in this game for two in a bed’, the pleading imperative ‘listen to Tony’. and most famously of all, the random asyndetic list of superlatives, dished out in either congratulation or commiseration – ‘super, smashing, great…’.

Last time, I looked at grammatical superlatives and how they can be a very useful tool for language analysis. This time, I’m looking at the…

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Using abstract nouns to access symbolic meaning

I’ve reblogged this on Team English – I’m sure a lot of our followers will find it useful! Thanks.

Blogger, interrupted...

I’ve been meaning to write up this lesson as I love reading other English teachers’ blogs about how they teach, like @Mrs Spalding, @Xris32, @mr_englishteach, @englishlulu, @FKRitson and @fod3 among others. I shamelessly borrow ideas and resources from these fab teachers, sharing with my team and trying out different methods and ideas, but have always been time-poor or fought shy of sharing my own lessons as they always seem so obvious!

So this is a thought I had, which I trialled with a Year 9 mixed ability class late last term as a way of accessing symbolic meaning through the use of abstract nouns. It seemed to work really well. The identification and use of abstract nouns unlocked conceptual thinking and more thoughtful analysis.  It’s so simple that I’m sure many other English teachers out there are doing it already, but my team really liked it when I shared it, so I…

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Team English – The Blog!

Welcome, #TeamEnglish! This is the NEW and OFFICIAL blog for @Team_English1, where we share resources, ideas and anything else we think you fabulous English teachers might find useful.

We (and by ‘we’ I mean Nikki – @noopuddles, and Becky – @shadylady222) thought it would be a good idea to create a space where all of our wonderful Team English contributors could share English themed blog posts. We will re-blog anything that people want to share and… this is the exciting bit… we are starting our own English themed blog challenge! Challenges of some sort are all the rage every January so we thought we’d jump on the proverbial bandwagon and start challenging you all.

So, English teachers, literacy teachers, librarians, anyone who likes to pedantically correct the grammar of others – this is your chance to shine!

The theme for January is ‘Trying Something New’. This could be something you intend to try this half term and your hopes or fears about the new approach, or something you have tried and how it went. The only rule is that it needs to be linked to English/literacy teaching in some way.

Tag your post on Twitter with the hastag #TeamEnglishBlog and we shall repost it here. We are so looking forward to seeing what you all have to say!

Happy New Year!cropped-20161023_171808000_ios.jpg