#100wordbookreview Inspirational Teachers Inspirational Learners by Will Ryan

Will Ryan is the Willy Wonka of education; revealing how the marvellous and magnificent can be realistic aspiration for our lessons.

This book is a passionate discourse on why our lessons should matter; weaving detailed instructions on how to create excellent lessons throughout the narrative.

Distilling the components that make lessons meaningful in an accessible and engaging way, this text has a lot to offer to educators looking for non-formulaic ways to create effective learning experiences.

Breaking down difficult concepts, This book shares how to make students really think about issues on a deeper level to create real understanding.



#100wordbookreview How to Teach by Phil Beadle

A classic guide to classroom practice; this book shares a wide array of strategies and methods to improve learning and behaviour.

Exploring every aspect of the lesson process, the author offers various ways of addressing the learning in each section with wit and warmth making great teaching accessible to all.

Coupled with a no nonsense approach to fads, acronyms and jargon it deciphers many phrases bandied about so that the dialogue on what really works can be addressed.

I would suggest this as essential reading for any trainee teacher or NQT and as a welcome refresher for educational veterans.


Faith and Fame

In year 8 we explore the faith of Islam. As part of this exploration we investigate the impact of belief on the lifestyles of believers; how is it similar and different to our own? This covers a wide range of themes such food, prayer, fasting and ethics.

In order to capture the imagination of the students and simultaneously make them more aware of the fact there are high profile believers I decided to focus in on fame and faith.

The foundations were laid by making sure students had a workable knowledge of the key concepts to explore; The 5 Pillars, food laws (including alcohol) and relationships (marriage).

The next step was to find out who was a famous Muslim; this really generates massive excitement as it’s full of surprises. When my students found out Mo Farrah, many of their favourite footballers and even Snoop Dogg (according to the Internet) were Muslims there was a great deal of surprise, commotion and realisation. It changed the way they thought about who Muslims were. That’s really important as we can often just give an overly RE teacher view of believers; it’s good to give them a dose of real people. They then did a detailed investigation of their chosen believer.

The next step was to explore how the teachings of their faith would impact on their life…

•Would Ramadan make it difficult for sports personalities to train and perform?
•Is it difficult to be a premiership footballer and a believer with all the temptations and avoid alcohol? (It is Haram after all.)
•How should wealthy believers use their privileges? (Zakat- charity)
•Would food laws be an issue in nutrition programs?
•Will Snoop Dogg make a good Muslim? How will he have to change his lifestyle? (Lots to investigate here.)
•Is prayer and holy days an issue for professional athletes?
•How should famous people behave? (The whole role model issue.)

This idea captures the imagination and breaks down some of the barriers to understanding a faith as real people with beliefs, not just walking textbook stereotypes. Students enthused to learn about faith and gaining a greater understanding of our diverse society, win.

This approach can be used with any belief system, the examples above are just how we chose to investigate Islam.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

To finish a random photo of one of my sporting heroes, and great role model, ultrarunner Ben Abdelnoor talking to the fans after a 1 mile children’s race.


Advice for School Leaders

Earlier this year I was asked to contribute my thoughts on what advice I would give a school leader by @JoyceMatthews_ whose e-book can be found here http://www.unschoolleaders.co.uk

“You and the land are one.” Perceval, Excalibur

It seems obvious, but it’s the holy grail of school culture. As a leader you determine the culture of your school. This isn’t about your policies or how well you can chair a meeting, it’s not about the number of power words in your mission statement; it is about who you are. As a school leader you are a role model for others. Everything you say and do is a lot more powerful than the piles of paperwork you produce. All those policies and administration tasks are important, but they are management tasks. Being a leader is about your vision and your personal impact on others.

If you make your focus putting the children first and have high expectations that is what your staff will see as important in your school. If you show that Ofsted, paperwork, petty politics or currying favour is your main priority by the way you behave it will become the main priority of others too. Think hard about your ideal school, what qualities would a leader in that school display? Then ask yourself the difficult question, do I have these qualities?

My belief is that a leader needs to have integrity, know what the main thing is and make sure it stays the main thing even in challenging times. A leader needs to be people focused, everyone in your organization is important no matter what their role, they need to feel valued, appreciated and inspired to do their best. A leader needs to be able to be wrong, show adaptability and flexibility; learn from your failures and share your challenges. This shows that your staff needn’t fear a witch hunt in a crisis, but will be expected to learn, adapt and grow. The last one may be difficult if you’re perfect.

That however is just my opinion, you need to decide the type of leader you want to be and try to be it every day. Your actions and attitudes impact on the lives of others; choose them carefully because once you’re in charge you are the school culture. You and the land are one.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE


Differentiated Plenary Stickers

I always liked the idea of the exit ticket; a quick reflection on the most important idea or concept from a lesson but wanted to make it a little more challenging for some.

Solution:differentiated exit ticket stickers. The twitter one asks for a simple description of the key idea in 140 characters; the Facebook post is the next level up asks for a paragraph to explain it. The highest level is the Golden Ticket which asks for a bit more (have a look at the sticker templates to see.)

The idea for Tweets and FB posts I’ve seen all over but I must mention @picktreelara for inspiring the Golden Ticket after seeing her use these as exit tickets at her wonderful Teachmeet presentation. They were made to look awesome by the fabulous technician team at school.

If you want to make sure students aren’t held back, allow them to pick higher level stickers to challenge themselves. With the right culture of learning in your class they’ll look for the challenge that’s right for them.

The images are in photo format but you can transfer them onto a Microsoft Word sticker template to print or onto PowerPoint as slides that can be printed, cut out and stuck into books.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE




#100wordbookreview Challenging Learning by James Nottingham

This book breaks down the five factors of excellent lessons; Feedback, Application, Challenge, Thinking and Self-Esteem.

Each section is a detailed masterclass in how to develop these in your own classroom as well as explaining the purpose behind each.

As well as this it contains ‘The Pit’ model of learning and the most impressive work on questioning I have ever read.

Whereas Hattie is the master of the science of learning Nottingham is a master craftsman in the art of classroom practice and shares his secrets in this book. Excellently written, clearly expressed, full of hints and tips; essential reading.


#100wordbookreview Lesson Study Edited by Peter Dudley

This is a comprehensive guide to Lesson Study; a teacher learning community technique which is currently rising in popularity across the world.

Broken into sections such as how to do Lesson Study, research findings, origins, implementation from a leadership perspective. Each section is written by an expert with their own style and gives subtle nuances for the reader to consider.

In addition the book provides links to templates to use online.

This is a well researched and explained text which I would recommend to those wanting to get serious about Lesson Study; CPD coordinators, researchers, school leaders and interested others.


What is the #100wordbookreview?

The most obvious answer is a review of a book in exactly 100 words; the purpose of it is a little more useful.

I’m often asked to recommend books on education so I though a series of very short reviews of books that I’d recommend might be an entertaining thing to do. Note: entertaining for me.

I gave myself 2 rules…

1) Each review must be 100 words exactly.

2) Each review must be positive.

These are recommendations, they’re not critiques, just sharing books I think others may value. In order to make it useful I’ve also tried to state who I would recommend it for when the word limit permits.

If you’d like to add a guest review of a book to the list as there’s a book you would gladly recommend to others feel free to contact me via Twitter. If someone is already working on it I’ll let you know. The two rules above always apply.

If you do guest a picture of you with the book would be a cheeky bonus;)

Happy reading,
Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

#100wordbookreview Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam

There’s a lot of information out there on assessment for learning; like so many jigsaw pieces. What this book gives you is the box with the picture on, all the pieces and a selection of ways to build it.

Not only clearly explaining why effective formative feedback is an essential part of a teachers armoury it offers a huge variety of techniques to be used for different purposes throughout the learning cycle.

This book significantly enhanced both my understanding and practice in terms of assessment for learning techniques and I recommend it enthusiastically for anyone wishing to develop this area.


#100wordbookreview Visible Learning for Teachers by John Hattie

This book takes the highly detailed meta-analysis from Hattie’s Visible Learning and distils it into clear and accessible guidelines on what makes a significant impact on learning.

Hattie offers a breakdown of key factors that make an expert teacher and how we can seek to become one. Covering the role of the teacher, preparing, starting and ending lessons as well as managing pace and the flow of lessons.

Clear distinctions are made between teachers who master the learning and teaching processes and those who choose not to making the behaviours and attitudes required for our students to succeed highly visible.