All entries for January 2019

January 28, 2019

Open Education Resources (OER) – Jonty Leese

What are OERs?

Put simply these are “free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes.”

You are allowed to take resources and in general reuse them for your own purpose.

What do I need to know?

Creative Commons (CC) Licences: These tell the user what you are allowed to do with the resources – some educators share resources for free, with almost no “control” over them, others share their resources with conditions about not using them commercially (i.e. you are not allowed to use the resources for profit). See here for more information.

Why are they relevant to me?

There are hundreds of resources which are appropriate to teachers at all stages of their journey, from PGCE to experienced classroom practitioner. You can use them knowing you are not going to fall foul of copyright and there are plenty for your subject. For example, Computer Scientists should look at for a very extensive range of resources all CC.

What are the benefits?

There is some excellent practice out there – for example for Psychologists allows you to make a bespoke textbook with just a few clicks (and it’s CC).

Many resources offer a scoring system (similar to Amazon etc.) to allow you to differentiate the quality for example this resource on authentic assessment.

Academic publishers are getting involved too, with Springer publishing a number of OER journals here. It’s free to the user and in general you can tweak a resource to make it “just right”.

What are the drawbacks?

Finding quality resources is not as easy as using a popular search engine – instead you have to use a search engine specifically appropriate for OER such as the ones found here. It requires a mindset change to create some work and then to pass it on knowing that someone else is going to potentially adapt and enhance what you consider to be a completed piece of work.

Some of the resources are created and then are not updated again as the designer runs out of steam or changes their focus. An example is a set of video lectures which are only half completed. Lots of these resources point towards MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) which research has shown to not engage students over the long term, when studied without educator input.

Great now what?

Try it. Search for a resource using the search engine link in the “what are the benefits” section and see what you think of it.

January 22, 2019

Vocabulary – reposted by Kate Glavina

I have always had an interest in and fascination for the power of vocabulary and remember well the excitement I felt as a child when I successfully tried out a ‘new word’. For example, in Junior 4 (now Year 6), I was introduced to the word ‘consequently’ and wove it into my conversation as often as I possibly could. When my sister, later, introduced me to ‘subsequently’, I was quite transported.

The power of a rich vocabulary and its impact on educational attainment is well documented. In her book Proust and the Squid, Dr Maryanne Wolf reflects on the absence of literacy and asserts that: ‘When words are not heard, concepts are not learned.’ The OUP has recently published a language report entitled 'Why Closing the Word Gap Matters' in which the point is highlighted that the size of a child’s vocabulary is the best predictor of success on future tests and children with a poor vocabulary are three times more likely to have mental health issues. The motivation for Robert Macfarlane’s recent, beautiful publication The Lost Words was a reaction to the revised edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary (2007) which had ‘dropped’ around forty common words related to nature, such as bluebell, heron, bramble, fern, heather… Macfarlane describes his poems as ‘spells’, intended to be spoken aloud to ‘summon lost words back into the mouth and the mind’s eye’. The importance of a wide vocabulary and the best approach to teaching young children seems a relevant, current debate.

Reflecting on the findings of Ofsted’s 15/16 review of the curriculum and assessment in English, HMI Sally Hubbard reported at a NATE conference (Autumn 2017) on the reading curriculum and in particular asserted that the most-able readers in the primary schools visited, lacked understanding of words that linked to ‘knowledge’. She stated that teachers should use their subject expertise to ensure that pupils can cope with vocabulary that is ‘lexically dense’ and ‘content-specific’. She emphasised the importance of vocabulary and ‘knowledge of the world’ and teachers’ appreciation of how language and understanding the world go hand-in-hand. She talked about the demands of the Key Stage 2 Reading SAT and the requirement for children as readers to be able to, amongst other skills, be able to explain the meaning of words in context and explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases.

These language demands were viewed further through the focus of the research by Isabel Beck around Three Tier Vocabulary. In summary, Tier 1 words are those common ‘everyday’ words to which children have plenty of exposure and which quickly become a part of their vocabulary. Tier 2 words are not used commonly in conversation, but are more often found in written materials, whether fiction, information or technical texts. They will be used, for instance, by authors to enhance a story, for literary effect (e.g. misfortune; dignified; faltered) or to provide particular detail in an information piece (e.g. relative; vary; accumulate). Tier 2 words are not context specific but highly generalisable – and often express concepts that children are familiar with but in a more sophisticated or nuanced way. Tier 3 words, by contrast, are technical terms specific to content areas (e.g. lava; circumference; aorta). Recognised as new and ‘difficult’ words, they are often defined by the author of a text and sometimes scaffolded as through a glossary. All three tiers are important for comprehension and vocabulary development although Tier 2 and 3 words require more ‘deliberate effort’ than Tier 1.

In considering this model, Hubbard argues that teachers are good at giving attention to ‘Tier 3’ words - will anticipate them in their planning and offer children explicit instruction around them through such strategies as pre-teaching key words; providing a Word Wall; exploring spelling patterns, word families, derivations. What is lacking, however, is attention to Tier 2 words which, being ‘non content specific’, children will encounter in multiple contexts. It is therefore crucial for teachers to engage children in a consideration of words across different contexts. As an example, Beck outlined an occasion where she read nursery children a story in which there featured the word ‘reluctant’: Lisa was reluctant to leave her teddy bear in the laundrette. In exploring this concept, she asked the children to share a time when they had felt reluctant to do something and the children typically replied thus: . I’d be reluctant to leave my teddy at my friend’s house; I’d be reluctant to leave my drums at my step-mum’s… All of the examples offered by the children, related to leaving something behind. Beck modelled further: I’m reluctant to ride a roller-coaster. Some children are reluctant to eat spinach. Could you tell me something you’d be reluctant to do? Much to her delight, one child replied: I’d be reluctant to change a baby’s diaper.

In light of the survey findings shared by Hubbard, I thought it would be interesting to use the lessons I observe as a Link Tutor, as a lens through which to consider the idea of Two Tier vocabulary instruction. The first opportunity was a science lesson with Year 1. The Learning Objective shared with the children was displayed on a whiteboard: I can describe the physical properties of a variety of everyday objects made from different materials. The trainee asked the class what was meant by the word ‘variety’. One child responded by saying it meant ‘lots’ and the trainee agreed and moved on. In reflecting on this interaction with the trainee after the lesson, in light of the Three Tier Vocabulary model, we established that ‘variety’ fitted the classification of a Tier 2 word – i.e. it is not context specific but used in a range of different contexts. The trainee could appreciate that instead of confirming ‘variety’ meant ‘lots’, as though the words were synonymous, there was, in fact, rather more ‘unpacking’ to be done around the definition. Having a number of something (even ‘lots’) is a prerequisite for having variety, but does not in itself mean there is necessarily difference between them. Considering other contexts in which the children might have encountered the word ‘variety’ would have been valuable as well as then making the link between the meaning of the word in the context of the learning objective and the resources on the children’s tables to be investigated in their science activity.

In a different school, I observed a trainee teaching a grammar lesson to Year 5. The objective was To Build Cohesion Within A Paragraph. The trainee began the lesson by asking the class ‘What does ‘cohesion’ mean – talk to your partner.’ After a moment or two, she took an answer from one child who said ‘time connectives and conjunctions’, to which the trainee replied ‘Yes, well done.’ Of course, this isn’t in fact the meaning of the word ‘cohesion’ - the child had quite cannily offered a phrase spotted at the top of the worksheet on his desk which related to the grammatical terms one might deploy to create text cohesion and which was clearly going to be the focus of the next exercise . The trainee did not explore the meaning of the word further – neither in a wider context, nor in a grammatical one. Part way through the lesson, the trainee drew the class together for a mini-plenary during which she asked a particular pupil to read their work aloud and then asked ‘How can you make that sentence cohesive?’ After a pause, the child said ‘I don’t know’. As an observer, I sensed that the difficulty lay in the fact that the child didn’t know what ‘cohesive’ meant and without further comprehension of the term, could not articulate a reply. Reflecting on the lesson afterwards, the trainee agreed that anticipating the need for discussion around the term ‘cohesion’ would have supported the children’s understanding of the task, their engagement with it and the progress made during the lesson. Out of interest, I asked the trainee how she would define the word herself – in what other contexts she might encounter the word - and she gave me a lovely response: I think of the word in the context of RE – in relation to ‘unity’ – and also the idea of cultural cohesion – and I also associate it with ‘glue’ and sticking things together – oh that ‘adhesive’? In terms of exploring nuance and a range of contexts, this trainee was well able to see the wide applicability of the term cohesion and the merit, in future, of better anticipating those words at the planning stage of a lesson.

In conclusion, I have found this focus a very interesting one as there has always been an instance of a Two Tier word occurring early in the lesson (e.g. ‘equivalent’ when exploring fractions in maths; ‘map’ when discussing story structure in English) the exploration of which has been pivotal to the children’s understanding and, crucially, their capacity to make progress by the end of the lesson. We need to be alert to Tier Two vocabulary – anticipate it when planning – give it attention during teaching. To this end, Jo Dobb and I have created new SBTs for the 18/19 cohort of core Primary and EY PGCE trainees. These tasks will build on work we will do with the students on the ‘taught programme’ to introduce the concept and model the process. We are confident it will have a positive impact on children’s vocabulary development and subsequently (one of my favourite words) on pupil progress. Finally –since we have been thinking about vocabulary development, let me leave you with a topical book recommendation – take a look at ‘What A Wonderful Word’ by Nicola Edwards – a wonderful gift – or indeed why not treat yourself?

January 14, 2019

The pastoral role & its impact on pupils’ social & academic progress & achievements

Show your awareness of the pastoral role and how this impacts on pupils’ social and academic progress and achievements - Danielle

Pastoral care is an integral part of teaching and is centred around three main aspects: offering emotional support to pupils; monitoring or supporting academic progress; and facilitating the development of social skills (Brooks et al. 2012). Ultimately, the pastoral role acts as a means of helping every pupil to succeed; regardless of their background or ability (ibid.).

To be successful within the pastoral role a teacher must, within appropriate professional boundaries, get to know the pupils under their care (TS Part Two); this enables teachers to notice when pupils are struggling, are exhibiting atypical behaviours, or are in need of advice. Identifying these changes in behaviour can result in safeguarding measures being put into place to support a student both academically and socially (TS Part Two). For example, in one of my classes there are a number of students who are suffering with anxiety. With the help of the DSL and the school’s Mental Health Nurse, I was able to support the pupils under my care and work towards safeguarding their mental health (TS Part Two).

Over the course of one of my placements, I have been participating in and shadowing a tutor group. As part of this role, I have learned a lot about pastoral care and the responsibilities that come with having a form group. For example, on a Monday, each tutor is required to conduct literacy activities with their tutees, in an aim to promote the correct use of standard English (TS3). To achieve this goal I introduced Monday Bingo, whereby students would cross words off a grid depending on the description that was given. By promoting literacy skills, the academic progress of students across all subjects is facilitated.

In addition to the above, form tutors are regularly required to raise awareness about a chosen personal, social, health or economic (PSHE) aspect of society. Recently, I delivered a lesson to my tutor group on ‘internet and phone safety’. The aim of this lesson was to teach students about how they can protect themselves against being groomed, bullied, or abused on the internet. As Edwards and co-workers highlight, discussing internet safety is becoming increasingly important to ensure that children are safeguarded from the threat of talking to strangers (Edwards et al. 2018). By providing pupils with knowledge about the capabilities of the internet, they are more equipped to keep themselves healthy and safe, and therefore are progressing socially.

Tutor times are also used as a hub for students to talk about any merits or awards that they have received. Any achievements that are discussed are then celebrated and are highlighted further at Parents’ Evenings (TS8). Parents’ Evenings are an important part of the pastoral role as they allow for teachers to actively involve parents in their child’s education and accomplishments. Alongside praising the positive, teachers can identify and highlight any issues with a student’s learning and thus work towards promoting further progress and well-being.


Brooks, V., Abbott, I. & Huddleston, P., 2012. Preparing to Teach in Secondary Schools: A Student Teacher’s Guide to Professional Issues in Secondary Education, McGraw-Hill Education. Available at:

Edwards, S. , Nolan, A. , Henderson, M. , Mantilla, A. , Plowman, L. and Skouteris, H., 2018, Young children's everyday concepts of the internet: A platform for cyber‐safety education in the early years. Br. J. Educ. Technol., 49: 45-55.

Mind, 2018. Apps For Wellbeing and Mental Health. Available at: [Accessed May 7, 2018].

January 07, 2019

Thinking about blogging?

What is WJETT?

The WJETT blog or Warwick Journal of Education - Transforming Teaching blog is designed to encourage staff and students to disseminate good practice and to engage with their peers on academic cultural critique or areas of research that they find interesting.

With the increased focus on ‘teachers as researchers’ in the sector, many qualified teachers are expected to publish the outcomes of any action research projects they undertake. The WJETT blog can be the first step on your journey towards publishing and enables you to experience publishing and reviewing in a friendly and supportive environment.

Can I write about anything in my blog post?

Yes pretty much. Academic cultural critique (Thomson and Mewburn, 2013) is always a good source of content for academic blogs. This can include (but is not limited to) comments and reflections on funding; higher education policy or academic life. You might also want to consider blogging about:

  • Academic practice (Saper, 2006)
  • Information and/or self-help advice
  • Technical, teaching and careers advice
  • Your research or practice
  • How you’ve undertaken research
  • Impact of research on your practice
  • An area of research/practice that interests you
  • Your experiences/reflections

How long can my blog post be?

Each individual blog post should be no longer than 500 words. Long blocks of text are sometimes hard for readers to digest. Break up your content into shorter paragraphs, bullet points and lists whenever possible. Also include a list of keywords or tags as this makes it easier for Google to find your work.

Do I need to use citations?

No, this is a reflective piece so it does not need to include citations (but you obviously can include them if they are relevant).

Can I include links or images?

We would encourage you to include links to any articles that you have considered whilst writing your blog post. We also welcome the use of images (as long as you have permission to use them) as they can often help to illustrate a point and obviously will not be included in the word limit. Please remember this is a public site so if you want to include images of your students in your classes then you will need permission to do this.

What is the process for submitting a piece of work?

Your blog post should be emailed to me at Once the submission has been reviewed it will either be uploaded at the beginning of the next available week or sent back to you for editing if it requires amendments. You should then send the amended work to me once again and I will then upload it onto the WJETT site.

January 02, 2019

My Teaching Philosophy – Dominic

My teaching philosophy has been formed, shaped and developed by my touchstones. My touchstones are both professional and personal. They include my passion for my subjects (History and Politics), my deeply-held belief in the importance of good teaching and learning, and my own education – especially the teachers who taught me. My teaching philosophy and my touchstones have helped me meet Teacher Standard 1 and its sub-standards because they have installed in me very high professional and personal standards which leads me to "Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils” (Department for Education, 2011, p10), as well as myself.

My first touchstone is etymological in the sense that is concerns what education means and therefore what it is. The English word education ultimately derives from two similar-sounding but distinct Latin transitive verbs - educare and educere. Educare means to bring up, to train, to teach (as opposed to coach), while educere means to lead forth (Bass and Good, 2004). At the heart of my teaching philosophy is my belief that education is - or should be - both of these noble things. My teaching philosophy is grounded in the belief that good teachers should bring up their pupils, in an academic, intellectual and pastoral sense, while also leading them forth on their own learning journeys. Since the Age of Enlightenment, educational pedagogy and practice in Western Europe has rightly focused on the importance of teaching pupils, as opposed to instructing them. Rousseau wrote that education “is a question of guidance rather than instruction. He (the teacher) must not give precepts, he must let the scholar find them out for himself.” (Rousseau, 1762, p112). This difference between educating, as opposed to spoon-feeding information, lies at the heart of my teaching philosophy.

My second touchstone is my long-held passion for my subject. One of the major reasons I am training to be a history teacher is because I love history and because I want to share this love with pupils of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. This enthusiasm for my subject has helped me meet Teacher Standard 3 and its sub-standards of having excellent subject and curriculum knowledge because I constantly seek to deepen and develop my own subject and curriculum knowledge. I have actively developed my subject and curriculum knowledge in my Initial Teacher Training year by attending numerous subject-specific CPD courses (including a four-day subject-enrichment course run by the Prince’s Teaching Institute for new and newly-qualified History teachers, for which my work(a cross-curricular History and Chemistry lesson) was commended), by co-leading a large group of pupils on a battlefields tour of the Western Front as part of University College London’s high-profile Centenary Battlefields Tour Programme and by volunteering as the school visit’s co-ordinator at the largest history festival in the country.

My third touchstone is my own education and the people who taught me – both inside and outside of the classroom. Although no single individual inspired or influenced my decision to become a teacher, my former drama teacher, Mrs Carly Waterman, a superb teaching practitioner, did much to make my secondary education very enjoyable. I often use Mrs Waterman’s lessons as the benchmark by which I now judge my own teaching. In this respect this touchstone has helped me meet Teacher Standard 1 and its sub-standards because I actively "demonstrate consistently the positive attitudes, values and behaviour" (Department for Education, 2011, p10) which were modelled to me by some of my teachers and which I now model for my own pupils.

Academic references

Bass, R, and Good, J (2004). ‘Educare and Educere: Is a Balance Possible in the Educational System?’ The Educational Forum, Vol. 68, pp. 161 – 168.

Department for Education (2011). Teachers’ Standards: Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies Crown Copyright.

Rousseau, J, (1991). Émile, Or Treatise on Education Penguin.

January 2019

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