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Specialist books aimed at teachers and other professionals in education.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2019 | Award winning author Katherine Rundell is as passionate about reading children’s books as she is about writing them. In this brief but and perfectly structured handbook she encourages all readers to think about the particular qualities of children’s books and about the special experience of reading as a child – which she remembers clearly. Drawing on her deep knowledge of children’s stories and supporting her arguments with endorsing quotes from writers of all kinds she sets out her defence of the book’s title in brief sections. She is as much at home in the factual – ‘On how children’s fiction came to be’ and ‘On children’s fiction today’ as the more personal which reflect her own views including ‘On wild hunger and heroic optimism’ and ‘The galvanic kick of children’s books’.
This is a book which any adult who deals with children, and not just teachers and others who work in school settings, would find enlightening, thought provoking and revealing. As we learn from the little snippets from the school reports of Paul Dix at the end of each chapter, the author has direct experience of being one of the ‘bad boys’ and now has more than 25 years of working to transform the most challenging behaviour in schools, referral units and colleges to call upon. As a 14-year-old he vowed he would change the way adults deal with behaviour and I defy any reader not to rethink their own strategies as a result of reading this book. Responsible adults should be just that – always in control of themselves before they attempt to take control of others. But this book is nothing to do with blaming teachers. Paul Dix is angry but he is angry with the lack of proper training in behaviour management and angry with the unrelenting drive for ‘progress’, pleasing Ofsted and analysing data which is destroying any ethos of pastoral care. Here chapter by chapter he asks hard hitting questions about school policies and behaviours and shows how these impact on students and often in a very counter- productive way. He writes with humour and the occasional frank expletive, he shares personal anecdotes, observations and tried and tested strategies backed up by theory, case studies and international examples. Each chapter concludes with three helpful checklists: Testing, Watch Out For and Nuggets which sum up, encourage and act as a quick aide memoire going forward. Ultimately the author’s message is about consistency and kindness. “ Visible consistency with visible kindness allows exceptional behaviour to flourish” This is a genuine must read that can genuinely transform schools and as his many examples show where improved behaviour leads, improved attainment follows.
This book has managed to be both accessible and very relevant without being patronising, which is always a difficult balance. It is packed with tips and anecdotes and what makes it especially good, is the fact that, as a busy teacher, you can simply dip in to a relevant chapter. It is a great guide book, but I also liked the way that it is laid out instructions, suggestions and ideas for teachers, whilst allowing us the freedom to adapt the programme for ourselves. It is a huge resource with cross references to other publications and practices. I loved the brief synopsis at the start of each chapter with the teaching tips, leadership tips and the unusual addition of the unexpected findings box, which was particularly interesting. A shame the political parties have not read the findings on how smaller classes are only more effective if the class size is below 20 and focused itself on more useful suggestions that they might put into place. The book is full of common sense suggestions, reminders and solutions such as ‘technology is there to support, not replace’ and the importance of feedback not marking which can simply be a way of demonstrating a teacher’s performance or to satisfy the requirements of others, mainly adults. It was reassuring to see in print, so much of what so many of us think. The advice in the book is incredibly helpful. It is not trying to reinvent the wheel, but giving teachers reminders about how to apply best practice. It is very easy to stop learning yourself in the efforts to educate others. The book summarises very succinctly what we all aspire to be. It is not what you do, but the way that you do it, that is important. This book would be brilliant for CPD or an inset training in any school and a valuable asset to any staffroom book shelf.
This book is a fascinating read for both primary and secondary teachers of mathematics. It explores comprehensively the use of concrete and pictorial approaches such as tallying, counters, the number line, ordered-pair graphs, proportion diagrams, bar models, base ten blocks and vectors in one dimension to represent different types of numbers and how operations using these numbers can be explained. To begin with, this book looks at the pros and cons of each approach to represent whole numbers, both positive and negative before moving on to fractions and decimals. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division follows, presented in a colourful, diagrammatic way surrounded with clear, logical written reasoning, allows the reader to make their own informed choice about which representation best suits their students. Once the fundamental concepts are secure, this book moves on to look at more complex ideas such as powers and roots, irrational numbers, laws of arithmetic and order of operations before moving into the abstract world of algebra, yet still applying the same concrete and pictorial approaches as before. Primary teachers are able to appreciate the mathematics that they will teach from a variety of angles. Secondary teachers are given a valuable insight into approaches taught in feeder primaries. Both sectors can consider how the concepts are extended and how these concrete and pictorial representations can be used to demonstrate these concepts at secondary school. Furthermore, throughout the book and in the final ‘frequently asked and anticipated questions’ chapter, ideas and appropriate questions to consider are given to support teachers in developing their own understanding of each approach and provide the structure needed to build confidence as to how they can implement these representations in their own classrooms. Visible Maths has given me food for thought and opened my eyes to new pictorial representations that I hadn’t considered as well as making me evaluate some of the teaching approaches I currently use. I thoroughly recommend this book, especially for those adopting a teaching for mastery approach. It is also a ‘must read’ for all KS2/KS3 mathematics teachers enabling a smooth transition in the teaching of these key concepts between primary and secondary school to be achieved for the benefit of every student. ~ Helen Thompson, Assistant Principal and Head of Maths, Corby Business Academy
Storytelling in Early Childhood is a captivating book which explores the multiple dimensions of storytelling and story acting and shows how they enrich language and literacy learning in the early years. Foregrounding the power of children's own stories in the early and primary years, it provides evidence that storytelling and story acting, a pedagogic approach first developed by Vivian Gussin Paley, affords rich opportunities to foster learning within a play-based and language-rich curriculum.
How to Tackle the Top Ten Issues in UK Classrooms | A very comprehensive and informative book and so obviously written by a teacher. It is neither overwhelming nor patronising, but an honest approach and observation on the workload and approach of teachers today. He demonstrates a true understanding of the pressures we are all under. It is well laid out with the top ten issues in classrooms clearly tackled. In the foreword, Morrison McGill suggests it is possible to dip in and out of the book, to the chapters relevant to you at the time, but I found this quite difficult. I think the book is better read as a whole (even if we are all time poor!) As I read through the book it was full of so many truths and made me remember practices I knew and features we should all apply in our day to day practice, but can so easily overlook or forget as we get embroiled in the day to day subject teaching. It made me rethink certain things like the value of homework, the effects of exclusion and how we tend to make assumptions on what a student actually knows and understands. The brief checklists on how to recognise dyscalculia and other SEND issues were clear and well laid out, as were the references to the case studies and the relevant quotes along the way. As a book to make us re-evaluate how we approach or recognise things, it is a valuable tool, it really makes you think. However, as a guide, I find it too wordy to dip into. I don’t think the information is bite sized as stated. The language is straight forward and honest and easy and interesting to read. Definitely a book for the staff room table. His quote on page 222, for me, summarises the whole purpose of the book and should be a mantra for us all – “Teachers simply need the time and space to teach with simplicity and passion, to collaborate and develop.”
The author, an acclaimed headteacher, author and international speaker, talks a lot about empowerment and this inspiring read should empower teachers, governors and parents to have the confidence to resist a data and results-driven efficiency agenda from usurping the true function of education. As he says “The human race has not evolved and developed through history because of a focus on efficiency; it has evolved because of our natural-born curiosity and our desire to learn, to challenge, to innovate and to be better”. The 2013 OECD “Skills Outlook” report which he references emphasises that education has to fit young people for a rapidly changing future. He is emphatically child-centred and believes that empowerment extends to them as well. A successful school works in partnership with learners and with the external community it serves but is, in and of itself, a collaborative learning community too. His mantra is “systems and structures change nothing; people do” A school can only be as good as its teachers and for both teachers and students it has to provide trust, security and a common purpose. His thoughtful analysis of what and why change is needed, with examples learned beyond education will provide a sustaining boost to morale for any teacher struggling in difficult circumstances and a timely reminder to those in charge to raise their heads above the parapet and stand up for the future of learning. This valuable read is not a practical how-to guide at all, nor an angry polemic, but rather a genuinely heartfelt plea to put purpose and people over structures and tests. He successfully advocates Ghandi’s challenge: “Be the change you want to be”
Over 70 fun activities for children | I wish this book had been produced when I first started teaching, I would have loved all the different ideas and the clear and interesting way the pages are laid out. As an experienced teacher, however, I found that many of the ideas, story starters and writing suggestions a little predictable. Nonetheless, the ideas/brainstorming pages were brilliantly written with some super ideas to inspire, such as the A-Z of character traits, the use of a dice to choose settings for a story and the work on genres and choosing better words. It is a very accessible book and I would definitely use many of the ideas included. I do think the author has missed a trick, however, as it would be very easy to tuck in some grammar in amongst the creative suggestions. Key words such as ‘alliteration’ and the use of descriptive adjectives and verbs could easily have been mentioned or even disguised amongst the pages, making the book a more valuable resource. As with any activity book, it is one to dip in and out of rather than follow religiously, but is certainly idea provoking and very accessible to both teacher and child. Its accessibility and clear concise instructions would also lend itself well to the parent who wants to work on some writing tasks at home, or for a keen, creative child who wants some extension tasks or a fun writing task to work on independently. A fun and well-constructed workbook that I am sure will prove a popular resource.
Every year, an increasing number of children enter the Early Years setting either new to English or with English as an additional language (EAL), which can be daunting, not just for the child but for the practitioner too. How can Early Years practitioners ensure that the right support is in place for the child and themselves? What practical ideas can be used successfully to enrich an EAL child's understanding of a new language, while, at the same time, allowing that child to bond with their peers? 50 Fantastic Ideas for Children with EAL is an invaluable resource to help integrate children with EAL into the classroom with fresh, exciting and engaging activities that are easy to resource, require little preparation and are fun to carry out. The activities include simple speak-and-repeat games, visual ideas to support learning new words and phrases and activities that evoke feelings of being at home, allowing the children to feel welcomed and part of the school's diverse community. Traditional games are also featured to help children with EAL play with their peers, as well as feel that they can contribute to the learning of others. Perfect for promoting inclusion and self-esteem, 50 Fantastic Ideas for Children with EAL is ideal for supporting children as they navigate the ups and downs of having English as an additional language.