Five Common Wrongs for English Teachers to Avoid by @JamesTheo

Starter for Five

Name: James Theobald
Twitter name: @JamesTheo
Sector: Secondary
Subject taught (if applicable): English
Position: Teacher
What is your advice about? Five Common Wrongs for English Teachers to Avoid

  1. Teaching pupils that a comma is used to mark a pause or to take a breath. Hearing, this, is, enough, to, make, me, hyperventilate.
  2. Using the word ‘connective’ to describe a part of speech. It’s a made-up term used to lump words together into arbitrary groups.
  3. Using the phrase ‘wow word’ to mean ‘sophisticated language’. Unless, of course, you are trying to teach the concept of irony.
  4. Teaching that simple and complex sentences are about length. A well-written simple sentence can often be a long, lingering, meandering piece of carefully crafted epic beauty.
  5. Doing something else when there’s an opportunity to read. If you are studying Shakespeare, the best thing pupils can do is to read some Shakespeare.

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How to teach a book by @JamesTheo

Starter for Five

Name: James Theobald
Twitter name: @JamesTheo
Sector: Secondary
Subject taught (if applicable): English
Position: English Teacher
What is your advice about? How to teach a book

  1. Firstly, be a History teacher: spend lots of time teaching social, historical, cultural and biographical contexts. Give pupils something to hang their ideas on when reading.
  2. Next, tap into your inner Maths teacher: identify the patterns – the recurring themes, motifs and symbols. Draw attention to them throughout reading.
  3. Be a Psychology teacher: focus on characters and their intentions. Treat them as studies in humanity. What can pupils learn about the world from them?
  4. Be a teacher of Philosophy: identify the questions the text provokes. Pitch these as ways into chapters/sections or as essay questions in response to the text.
  5. Most importantly, be an English teacher: make sure pupils read lots (including reading outside of the text); plan for pupils to write about what…

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