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Specialist books aimed at teachers and other professionals in education.
An easy-to-follow guide that breaks down the requirements of the National Curriculum and provides a planning overview for teaching, combining grammar, spelling, punctuation and writing into one book. It includes annotated high-quality model texts, to show teachers the benchmark for expectations in each year group and presents up-to-date content that reflects the new framework for writing. A companion book for Key Stage 2 is also available.
An easy-to-follow guide that breaks down the requirements of the National Curriculum and provides a planning overview for teaching, combining grammar, spelling, punctuation and writing into one book. Including annotated high-quality model texts, to show teachers the benchmark for expectations in each year group and presents up-to-date content that reflects the new framework for writing. A companion book for Key Stage 1 is also available.
April 2021 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Designed to support the KS2 National Curriculum, this rich resource will help young writers get to grips with grammar in clear and meaningful ways that will enhance their writing. It’s also a handy time-saver for teachers, providing as it does excellent examples that demonstrate grammar in action. The book really stands out for the author’s ability to explain tricky-to-grasp points of grammar through the lens of their purpose. Let’s take fronted adverbials as an example. After explaining what they are (words “used for beginning sentences by focussing on location, time, frequency, manner or the degree in which something is happening”), he provides a handy list of examples (nearby, here, in the woods, later, eventually, sadly, full of joy, close to tears) in the context of why they’re used: “for helping the reader visualise or sequence what is occurring.” Alongside lucid explanations of key terms, this golden grammar nugget also gleams with great tips on how to make sentences more exciting, with the “Awesome alternatives” chapter serving as a succinct thesaurus. The sections covering themes in more detail are sure to enhance students’ vocabulary on specific topics, from the seasons and school, to space and suspense, while the character chapter will be especially helpful for creative writing, with vocabulary lists for the likes of hair, skin, eyes and personal quirks. The layout is top-notch too, with key information clearly boxed, and lively illustrations peppered throughout - full marks for a concise toolkit that will boost writing skills. Kids interested in exploring their creativity through writing will find inspiration in Joanne Owen's new series, Get Creative.
Having really appreciated Tait’s book Teaching Rebooted which was an inspiring and well-resourced book, I was looking forward to another of his guides and I was not disappointed. The book is clearly written with short, punchy paragraphs, clear overviews, well paragraphed text, and a clever section at the end of each chapter for notes, reflections and further reading. (For just in case you do not get your first leadership role and need to remember a few key points for the next interview!) I love the practicality of this book. It is not all about theories and why you might be an inspiring leader, but how you might actually achieve it; The initial basics of getting the job, what to wear, how to plan your route and the first impressions you are likely to make. Each element of the process is clearly approached, from the hints to tackling the ‘in-tray task, to the likely people, both child and adult that you are likely to be questioned by on the day and, to acknowledge at interview, that the children’s comments and feedback will be a key factor in your success and to not underplay or patronise this important market. Once you have achieved your goal of achieving leadership, the book is equally well- sourced, with essential information, such as taking staff meetings, CPDs and the approach to duties and teaching. It also covers the less obvious elements of the job such as dealing with the wider community and the well- being and happiness of staff. There are clever little tips such as how to make quick wins that can increase confidence and respect from the staff, as he says, ‘it is important to get the staff on the bus.’ What I liked most was that it was a really good read, and even if you are not an aspiring leader, there are plenty of useful tips to take from his writing as to how to communicate, understand and empathise with people we work with. The only area I found not covered sufficiently, was how to step into leadership in an existing school, which is another minefield altogether and has its own different, and often difficult, challenges. Perhaps a little appendix on the next publication?
A new edition of the bestseller by Teacher Toolkit | This really is what it says on the cover, a teacher’s tool kit. A very professionally researched and well delivered handbook. It reads a little like a good INSET lecture, focusing on various aspects of a teacher’s job and the importance of getting all elements right. It is written in a supportive and informative way and at no point is it patronising (unlike many inset lectures!) The various points are informatively written in concise chapters, with an ‘ideas snapshot’ at the start of each topic and useful references to further reading. The book included many memorable and helpful quotes, such as ‘marking should enhance the performance of the teacher as well as the student’ and to apply the Goldilocks principle, when marking, ‘not too much, not too little’ Remember that feedback should be ‘meaningful, manageable and motivating’ The introduction does suggest that this is a book one can dip in and out of. Personally, I think it is deserving of a complete read. I think once read, you could use various elements to refer to, but I think you would get a lot more from it, to initially read it from cover to cover. The accompanying Visual Guide is packed with great comments, but I found the actual visuals a little overwhelming and stark. Maybe it was the overuse of the colour red, which for me was a little too much in your face. Sadly, whilst we are all working and marking from home, much of the advice in not currently applicable. However, I shall be attempting to remember the great advice and creative ideas to use when we are back in the classroom.
This is the sort of book that should be included as compulsory reading for all trainee teachers, but it is also a great read for all those teachers who just need a gentle reminder or a tweak to well-worn practices. It is packed with helpful suggestions to improve both lesson structure but also the enjoyment of lessons, for adult and child, whether it be by outcome or the ability to access what is being delivered. All too often we think we are delivering our best, when, with a few adjustments, our lessons could become more inclusive and more accessible. The case studies running through the book are varied and frank,and in some cases, are quite heart rending. The individual cases are insightful and meaningful. The example given by the author of his aeroplane making in CDT is particularly memorable and poignant. Despite the many pointers and ideas, the book is written in such a way that it does not feel as if you are being preached at or criticised but merely…..‘Instead of this, try this’. Sometimes the tiniest tweaks could make a difference to a child. As teachers we often focus on the teaching and the learning outcome, forgetting in our enthusiasm or habit, that for a child sitting at the wrong sized desk, or with a fear of editing, or worrying about the upcoming PE lesson,or a misunderstanding of some basic instruction, this is not going to happen. The book is packed with practical and often simple suggestions that would make all the difference. The authors are obviously speaking with bags of experience, demonstrating great understanding and a huge amount of perception. I think the tips and ideas suggested in this book would benefit all our teaching practices wherever we are in our careers.
This was an excellent read with some interesting and reflective questions. It was clearly well researched, with many personal anecdotes and some perceptive poems. It was not a book that you could dip in and out of, but one that needed reading cover to cover, to take in the clear message the author was giving us. I think it would also be a good book for parents to read as the importance of home is stressed throughout. I am sure we have all heard much of the information before, that boys do not perform as well as girls and that their concentration times were different: that they matured at a different rate to girls and how adults’ expectations of boys are so different from birth. However, to have it all set out chapter by chapter, brought the points home! The chapters were set out clearly, with an overview, things to think about and how to act. However, I do feel that many of the issues of boys not responding and achieving, are issues equally applicable to girls. Many of the examples given, such as boys saying if they had a good teacher, who was fair, listened and was firm when required, inspired them to work. Both sexes are equally affected by the quality of the teacher. Quotes saying, ‘those who mess about get rewards for being good once, whereas consistent good behaviour is not rewarded’ Again, this applies just as much to girls as boys. I think as teachers, we need to be aware of the issues raised. As Gary Wilson noted, “it is interesting how anything specific and helpful to boys, would have a positive knock-on effect on girls."
A new approach to behaviour management | A book packed with sound advice and made more relevant because the writers are teachers and have put their advice into action. Evidence based practice is always the best. There are so many useful phrases and practical tips and quotes. Phrases like ‘never leave a child with no where to go, behaviourally or educationally’, or ‘a burnt-out teacher cannot foster positive relationships’ and the ‘importance of personal space’ are particularly memorable examples. The style is informal and chatty and clearly laid out. I like the key ‘learning point’ boxes at the end of each chapter and the interesting examples of successes had with previous pupils. On occasions however, the examples are a little too lengthy and a little too personal. Whilst not prudish in any way, I did not think the swear words added much to the narrative or the over personalisation of ‘Steve’ or ‘Mick’ in the chapter overviews. Whilst I respected the scientific research that had gone into the reasons behind why children behave as they do, I think it would be fair to say that most educators want solutions and answers. Not because they do not care or are not interested in the science, but because they just do not have the time. For me, the interesting chapters were those that provided solutions to situations and offered practical help to real life scenarios. There were certainly many useful, thought provoking messages and theories throughout the book that we can all learn from.
Action Jackson's guide to motivating learners | This book has a really, important basic message that happy children will learn and be successful. It is packed with useful tips, interesting, stories and anecdotes. However, I feel what lets it down from the start is the cover which to me, paints the wrong picture and conjures up a cartoon style of children’s book. I am sure the colour and font are designed to complement the word ‘happy’, but does this work? On a positive note, it is a very readable book, clearly laid out with some very helpful classroom tips. I particularly like the use of the acrostic technique of delivering messages, BIDMAS and READY on pages 113 and 117,being two great examples that would work as display material in the classroom. The messages he delivers is so important, ‘make education relevant’, ‘embrace negativity’ and ‘don’t limit your challenges’ being particularly good examples. It is important to inspire and encourage. However, the British as a nation can be quite reticent and conservative, and to an extent negative about themselves. I think chapters headed ‘you are amazing’ and ‘be in your zone of impact’ might be a little bit much for many staffrooms and deemed a little too ‘American’. I would say most of us would agree the sentiments and vision behind the book, we just need it delivered in a slightly less cliched and less patronising fashion.
Over 90 non-fiction activities for children | Having reviewed and enjoyed Creative Writing Skills last year, I was excited at the thought of another book by Lexi Rees. Wicked Writing Skills, as with its predecessor, is a book packed with original ideas for busy teachers. It is clear and concise, and it is easy to dip in and out of the extremely creative chapters. As an English teacher, I am a firm believer in mixed ability classes and lessons that can be differentiated happily and successfully. This book achieves this so well as the ideas are varied, clearly laid out and interesting, with enough stimulus to appeal to the reluctant, and enough thought provoking phrases to appeal to the most eloquent and able. The layout is fun and eye-catching, with helpful hints from the author, dotted throughout. The author’s obvious enjoyment in writing this book, certainly shines through. I like the variety of ideas, from debates and newspaper articles, to instruction and diary writing. It is a book packed with ideas and inspiration. This is a super resource for the classroom or as a 'home school' resource. The diversity of the material allows you to dip in and out throughout the term, using the pages as and when appropriate. I also found that as many of the themes were quite broad, they can easily be adapted to link in with an ongoing theme in the classroom. The layout of the pages makes it quick and easy to photocopy and a great addition to the Creative Writing shelf.
Using the science of learning to transform classroom practice | For anyone who likes scientific evidence and research to support why we teach in the way we do, or why we should change our approach, this is their perfect book. Each chapter is supported by laboratory tests, field work and educational studies combined with a wealth of incredibly, comprehensive support material. Teachers are constantly being challenged as to their approach to delivery and very often it appears as if we are being asked to reinvent the wheel for the sake of it. As Tait says in his introduction, ‘would you go to a hospital and be told by your surgeon that he is going try out a new medical procedure?' In the same way, teachers need to see evidence and proof of success. This book certainly goes a long way in providing this. The aim of the book, according to the author, is to provide an accessible, concise overview of the main research that underpins how we learn, which it certainly does. The book is divided into 10 chapters, each covering one significant topic in detail. The author does say the book can be read cover to cover or dipped in and out of. I would say this is quite hard to do as there is so much information and so many examples and ideas within each topic. However, the way the chapters are laid out do make this possible. The teaching tip for each topic, the key quotes in bold, combined with the introductory paragraph at the start does make the book more accessible for the time poor. An interesting addition to staff inset sessions and the staffroom bookshelf.