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Why we need to read aloud

Here is the recording of webinar I gave for #LDeduchat this week on 'Why we need to read aloud'. The prerecorded presentation lasts for about 25 mins with the rest of the time given over to Q&A. If you can't be doing with watching it, this is my basic argument: Too many children will not read independently because they are not fluent decoders. This is through no fault of their own: there is no correlation between decoding and intelligence. Reading confers all sorts of intellectual advantages: the more you read the more intelligent you will become We can overcome some of [...]

2020-05-27T11:52:25+01:00May 27th, 2020|reading|

How to pay attention

Here is my researchEDHome talk on attention. And, if you want to chase up any of the references they're embedded is the slides below: How to Pay Attention from David Didau I also want to recapitulate an answer I gave to one of the questions I was asked about the distinction between instruction and curriculum. Part of my talk tried to explain Polanyi's idea about 'subsidiary awareness'. Essentially, although attention implies a 'withdrawal' of focus from one set of things in order to concentrate on another, we nevertheless retain our subsidiary sense. So, for instance, if you were probing a tooth [...]

2020-05-26T15:14:25+01:00May 7th, 2020|Featured|

Behaving badly in public: Where do we draw the line?

There's never any shortage of stupid on social media. Barely an hour goes by without someone saying something breathtakingly foolish, and this feverish tendency has only been intensified since we've all been confined to barracks for the duration. The last week has seen two senior figures from the old guard of education handed a pile of old rope and rush to bodge together their own  homespun nooses. First up, we had Sir Michael Wilshaw (who, bless him, hasn't had an opportunity to say something breathtakingly foolish for quite a while) suggest that teachers ought to work through their summer holidays. Former [...]

2020-05-01T11:25:06+01:00May 1st, 2020|Featured|

A reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped

When my daughters were younger I used to read to them every evening. Over the years we read all the Harry Potter books, the Narnia stories, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, most of Alan Garner's output and various others. As they got older we read most of Jane Austen's novels together. I'm not sure who enjoyed all this most, me or them. But sometime in the last three or four years our nightly readings ceased. They're teenagers now and not minded to indulge their father's keenness to read aloud. So, for better or worse, I've [...]

2020-05-20T12:18:29+01:00April 25th, 2020|Featured|

#ProjectParadise: A group reading project

Well. A few days ago I ran a poll on Twitter to find the most popular long poem for a group reading project and the clear winner, with 44% of the vote, was John Milton's seventeenth century epic, Paradise Lost. OK. If you were to take part in a group reading of a long poem (like the celebs are doing with Rime of the Ancient Mariner' which of the four below would be your first choice? — David Didau (@DavidDidau) April 18, 2020 I've been inundated with volunteers eager to read a section aloud and that is exactly what we're going [...]

2020-05-26T09:08:21+01:00April 20th, 2020|Featured|

How should we decide what knowledge to teach?

Last year I wrote two posts on two ways I think we might be getting curriculum thinking wrong at the moment. The first is on cultural capital, the second is on powerful knowledge. Below is a short presentation on these themes I put together for researchED Durrington:

2020-04-09T08:10:50+01:00April 9th, 2020|Featured|

Homework in the time of Corona

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of uncompleted homework. Gabriel Garcia Marquez I've never been much of fan of homework, not as a child, not as a teacher and nor as a parent. It's always seemed a quite unnecessary imposition. As a child, the 'dog' got to homework with unconvincing regularity. As a teacher I hated having even more marking to do. And as a parent, I just wanted to spend time with my children without papier mache art projects intruding. That was certainly the case when they were younger, anyway. After a [...]

2020-04-04T10:55:51+01:00April 3rd, 2020|Featured|

Exam season and COVID19: What should we do?

In the current climate, worrying about whether this year's GCSE and A level exams are going to go ahead as scheduled may seem like small beans but it's a big deal to those directly affected. My eldest is due to sit her GCSEs and is, understandably, frustrated with the uncertainty. The likelihood that schools will carry on as normal over the exam period is looking more and more remote. Something has to give. Everyone working in education is expected an imminent announcement, but no one knows anything for sure. As ever, we have to hope for the best and plan for [...]

2020-03-16T11:53:52+00:00March 16th, 2020|Featured|

The dangers of hierarchy: a recommendation for improving Ofsted inspections

One of the many hard lessons learned by the aviation industry is that distributing responsibility and challenging hierarchical authority saves lives. From examining flight recorders and listening to cockpit recordings, crash investigators know that otherwise avoidable accidents have been caused by dysfunctional relationships between airline crew. The traditional model was the captain was in absolute authority and that questioning his actions was unthinkable. This led copilots and cabin crew to keeping silents when they noticed the captain making a mistake. There are clear dangers in leaving people to organise themselves because our natural inclination is to defer to those in authority [...]

2020-03-07T08:10:05+00:00March 7th, 2020|Featured|

Why interview feedback is a waste of time

A few years ago I wrote a series of posts on the subject of improving the interview process in schools: Part 1: A brief review of the evidence Part 2: Intuition vs. statistical prediction (in which I made suggestions for improving structured interviews) Part 3: The interview lesson I thought I'd said all I needed to say of the subject of school interviews. Then a few days ago I responded to a tweet about providing unsuccessful candidates with post-interview feedback suggesting it was a waste of time: Feedback on unsuccessful interviews is valueless. It’s all polite variants rationalising why your face [...]

2020-02-27T20:58:27+00:00February 27th, 2020|leadership|

What I learned from visiting schools in Uganda

Some months ago I was asked to be part of an advisory panel on a project to improve primary education in Uganda. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. What, I wondered, would I have to offer? The project, SESIL (Strengthening Education Systems for Improved Leadership) is funded by the Department for International Development and managed by Cambridge Education. The basic premise is that by introducing systems for collecting, analysing and using data to make decisions, school leaders will be better placed to improve children's outcomes by the end of primary school. Before heading out to Uganda, I was [...]

2020-02-27T18:09:27+00:00February 26th, 2020|Featured|

Can observation pro formas be used well?

Should observers waltz into lessons armed with a clipboard full of hoops they hope to see teachers jump through? No, probably not. Some years ago I wrote about my preference for how lessons should be observed: The point of a lesson observation should not be to see whether a teacher is slavishly following a checklist, rather it should be to tease out how effectively they are teaching the students in front of them to master specific curriculum goals. Who cares if there’s ‘evidence of differentiation’ but the quality of students’ work is rubbish? Why would it matter if a ‘plenary takes place’ if students [...]

2020-02-09T18:37:56+00:00February 9th, 2020|leadership|