An Introduction to “An Inspector Calls”

I started studying ‘An Inspector Calls’ with my year 10s yesterday and I always like to start a new topic with a lot of enquiry. So this is a short post about how I introduced them to the play.

To get the discussing and focused I start with a slide of images from google image of ‘AIC’ which consists of a range of different images of the harassers, set and text covers. I ask the class to form questions using questions stems, we then share those and discuss predictions.

Moving on from that, and I know some may find this odd and a bit too much of a giveaway, but I offer the class the situation we start the play with ‘a young woman has committed suicide and and these events led to her death’… They have then look at a short summary if the events that happen to Eva/Daisy and discuss who is to blame for this girl’s death. Again it sparks lots of discussion and lots of questions are asked.

It may sound mean but I deliberately choose for the lesson to be very ambiguous to start with so pupils are really hooked. And the questions they form are written in their books so they can be revisited and hopefully answered as we read and study the play.

After the ‘who’s to blame’ discussion we move onto the second objective: to begin to explore the social context and develop an understanding of the playwright. We discuss two key dates 1912 and 1945: what they know about those dates and what happened in history in between. I use prompt questions to get them considering the significance of the dates before telling them the play was set in 1912 and written in 1945. This prompts a discussion about key events in History and what society was like during those different time issues (I usually draw on the GCSE History students’ knowledge here to help lead the discussion).

The class then work in groups with some basic social context information sheets and make notes/an information poster about JB Priestley, politics at the time, social status and deliberate choices made by Priestley in the setting of his play based in what they’ve read and understood. This focuses the class to understand what was going on at the time the play was written; how JB Priestley brought his politic views into his work and how society was structured in 1912 and 1945.

To end the lesson and draw all of the phases together pupils see if any questions have been answered what predictions they have for the play and how their social context notes link to the ‘who’s to blame’ activity. This produced excellent predictions and links such as the girl’s status meant she had no options left after being treated so poorly by people of higher status.

They were so engaged all lesson and came into the classroom buzzing today and eager to start reading the play. I am so excited about taking them through the rest of the play and seeing how they continue to engage with the play.
If anyone would like a copy of my resources I would be happy to share.
Kathy πŸ˜ƒπŸ‘


Author event for a Monday afternoon: my school’s Reading club post


This afternoon I (Miss Darlison) was lucky enough to take a wonderful set of year 9 girls to visit Coventry’s Central Library to see author David Massey, who was giving a presentation and discussing his novel ‘Torn’.

We found our way to the Library (special thanks to the girls for leading the way πŸ˜‰) and had plenty of time before the event started to experience the library and what it had to offer. It’s a wonderful library if you haven’t been before. I thoroughly suggest getting yourself enrolled there as they have a superb young adult section!

At half 1 we gathered in the little meeting room with some Sidney Stringer pupils for an intimate presentation from the exciting new author. His presentation was perfectly pitched at us; he gave us some back ground information about himself; told us how he came up with his idea for the novel ‘Torn’; how he plans his plot and character development and how he edited the finished piece. It was so interesting hearing all about the process and I think he did a great job explaining things like how he makes his writing interesting and how he build his character; it was very useful. He showed us clips, played us music, showed us real life inspirations he used and had us hooked!

His book is about a teenage medic who is working in a war-torn zone in Afghanistan. The story focuses on her experience of being a medic and also has a love story running along side it. He read us a taster and left us on a real cliff hanger! Who was shot?! You’ll have to read it to find out… I’m desperate to find out! David’s wife also read us a snippet from the love story section and it was beautifully written.

What I liked best was when he asked if there were any questions Rhiann and Justyna were brave enough to ask him! To end the wonderful presentation we were able to buy a copy of his book and he signed it for us!

A great afternoon was had by all! Watch out for the novel in the library; he signed it to Stoke Park so we have a very special copy for the library at school! Let us know when you’ve read it!

Miss D πŸ˜„

🌟TeachMeet English Derby 16th Nov πŸŒŸ


Eeeeek I attended my first TeachMeets this week… That’s right plural: teach meets! I attended the Cov Lead Meet on Tuesday and yesterday I attended the Derby English TeachMeet which was just awesome!


I was presenting so I was nervous but ultimately I was psyched to meet all the wonderful people I have been tweeting since the summer; put some faces to names and avatars! And it was brilliant!
Chris Curtis was a fantastic host and set the sessions up brilliantly. There were a range of short presentations where teachers with a range if roles and experiences shared an idea or a process that works well and from that I got loads of good ideas! In between each presenter we had a nifty little quiz to complete which was a great idea and Ice breaker.




Were were treated to a scrummy cream cake and wonderful selection of resources to take away. It was such a fun and rich experience.


I am classed as a geek at school for my passion and enthusiasm and willingness to go above and beyond to develop as a teacher. But do you know what? I don’t bloody care. If being a geek means spending 5 hours getting to, from and being at a wonderful event with like-minded teachers who are happy to share and discuss teaching and learning then brand me! #geeks
I picked up a plethora of ideas and resources; everyone was so generous.


Here are my reflections and things I will try out from the event:






So many wonderful ideas! It really got me buzzing! So how will I use some ideas straight away?!


And others, I plan to factor into my teaching soon or as soon as I can.

Please check out the people who I have mentioned in my scrawl on my pictures or look at who I have tweeted about yesterday. They are all awesome and have such fantastic things to share. Also here’s a list of useful and interesting blogs to check out!


A huge thank you to Chris @Xris32 for hosting. He really has inspired me to host my own so watch this space… #tmcoventry maybe coming in the new year!



Free Writing

So on Friday 15th Nov I embarked on quite a scary venture with my lovely set 2 year 9 class… Creative writing. I do not think I am a very good writer and as I explained in my blog a few days ago, writing creatively fills me with dread so naturally teaching creative writing makes me nervous! However a mentor of mine, the wonderful @mskjmoose came to my rescue and shared her blog post about Free Writing and inspired me to start breaking down my barriers to writing imaginatively and creatively. So I read her blog, I researched the NATE TAW project and realised that I could have fun with creative writing and allow the kids to have fun too! I understood that free writing was about allowing the pupils time to ‘write freely’: no limits, no constraints and no formal marking/ assessment. It is about them developing as a writer and enjoying the time given to write and develop with the freedom they have without worrying that I was going to read it and mark it. However if they want to share it they can of course! After reading this information I decided on how I wanted to set up my Free Writing lesson and vowed that I would reflect on the experience so I could develop it over time.
I decided that I would keep lesson 1 in keeping with the scheme of work: focusing on mystery, suspense and tension if they wanted a starting point! (I figured some students would love the total freedom but this would also scare some so I thought a stimulus was a way to support some writers!

I think the best way to share the lesson is to narrate it…

I got to the lesson early (during break) so I could set the scene with some spooky music and asked pupils to write *anything* they wanted to: notes, words, phrases, draw images… They had about 6 mins and I wrote some of my ideas on the board ( something that I was still nervous about doing!)
After that I asked the pupils:
how do you feel when you are told to ‘write something-anything’?

I answers the question first:
It makes me feel scared and nervous reactive I worry people will judge me. After I shared. My feelings they happily shared theirs: ‘determined, Miss cos I want to do well’, ‘scared too miss, because I don’t know where to start’. ‘Fantastic because I love creative writing’
Pupils recorded this start point in their book.

We then explored the term ‘free writing’

We discussed the sentence starters and they then filled them in to show they’d understood what we were doing and why. By this time they all seemed quite intrigued and interested, which was a relief! I want them to record some things in their books so I can teach their confidence/ feelings/ progress and reflections however I told them they would do their writing on paper and only share it if they wanted to.
I then showed them some images I had taken from the petrol station last weekend (to use as a stimulus if they wanted!)


They laughed at my situation when I told them how scared I had been alone in the isolated petrol station at half 11 on a Saturday night! I then let them go… After telling them they should use their time to write whatever they wanted to in whatever genre/style they were raring to go! I even said they could sit where they wanted to… I had some in the alcove, some on the window sill, some under tables, some with their back to the wall in the floors and do you know what, they LOVED it! They didn’t mess around, they didn’t talk to each other they sat and write for half an hour and it was magic.
There was one pupil who literally looked lost so I sat with him and was encouraging. It took about ten mins of discussion: we discussed his feelings, his preferences then he got cracking. I didn’t even get chance to write myself because I had a queue of pupils willing to share their work and they said I could take a pic for my blog (the know I am a teacher geek!)
Some of them were eager to share




I was so pleased they wanted me to read their work! I got descriptive writing, a script, a story and a letter… Fabulous range!

To end the lesson I got them to spend a few minutes reflecting: how they found the experience, what they enjoyed, what they’d like to do from here…


I even got an underachieving boy correcting his work!


I was really invigorated by the experience!

To reflect myself I would say:
Pupils being inspired
Pupils being enthusiastic
Pupils smiling!
Pupils focused and concentrating
Pupils offering their work freely and sharing their ideas freely

What they would like from me in terms of me reading their work: just to share it with me or to give them constructive feedback
Helping support them more I.e. Giving them examples of good texts that they could use to help them develop so they emulate the style
Opportunities to share more…
It’s a work in progress but I am so pleased lesson 1 went well!


If you have any advice, please share!

Kathy πŸ‘πŸ˜ƒ


Building on year 10s’ learning to help them improve!

Whilst marking last night I got a bit excited because in some (most, but not all) of my year 10s’ books I could clearly see the learning journey from the notes they’d made to the reflections they had given, to what had been recorded on their ‘what stuck?’ sheet to their practice essay plans.
I decided to take some pictures so I could record some fabulous work that I could then use for WAGOLL in case pupils are away or if pupils found it hard to visualise what I wanted them to do.

Here are some of the bits I captured:



After the notes pages I started snapping at their home works or their stuck sheets so I can improve the way I use those next time.




I was really pleased.

Then after marking their work and realising I has some pupils on As in their practice work and some pupils who hadn’t actually done one (arg!) I created DIRT activities, so by the end of the lesson they will have produced a well developed, detailed analysis paragraph that reflects their ability and understanding of the play Romeo and Juliet. I am hoping: all will have written at least 1 ‘dynamite’ paragraph… most will have used my feedback to improve theirs or to write on effectively… And some will have written another/developed theirs so that it further supports their first point or acts as a linked discussion point to enable them to show ‘sustained’ focus on the qu for that A/A* grade.

The colour charts are a way for some pupils to visualise the stages needed in order to develop and deepen their analyses effectively for a C or above. Some won’t use it individually and that’s fine but to start with, after modelling a paragraph from a student pupils will splinter off into groups to practice writing a paragraph together then they will carousel to peer assess and mark that paragraph and add to it/discuss it.

Let’s see how it goes!

Kathy πŸ‘πŸ˜ƒ

Group work to explore how to organise the controlled assessment. 












I gave the class ‘points’ that discussed love (they could write their own) and a set of key quotations (again, they could add their own) they had to cut them out and stick them next to the point they matched/supported. This brought about discussion and reasoning skills. Most pupils found it extremely helpful for helping to organise the content they’d learnt. Their h/w was to then plan their own essay and the results of that were great. I had detailed plans that cross referenced sections of the play. I had detailed practice paragraphs and lots of originality which was fantastic. For those who it didn’t work for I would encourage them to try it for a lesson then work independently if they prefer so that the experience is more suited to their learning style and they get the most out of it. More pics to track the process later. These images are from lesson 2 out if 3-4.

Kathy πŸ˜ƒπŸ‘

Out of my comfort zone

❔❔ Mystery, suspense and tension… Creative writing at year 9 ❔❔

I have to admit teaching creative writing makes me nervous! As a pupil I was told I ‘hadn’t quite got it’ when I tried to write a recipe poem and with no idea on how to improve I felt that I was pretty crap at creative writing. I think that sense of failure and not being encourages/taught how to improve stayed with me throughout and it squashed my creativity. Give me an an essay to write and I love it and I genuinely think this reflects in my teaching, I teach analytical writing a lot, I think I do it well but I don’t think I am hugely successful at teaching creative writing; it just doesn’t come naturally. I am trying to be better. So for the year 9 ‘Mystery, suspense and tension’ scheme I am determined to spend a good amount of time allowing pupils to be creative in their writing and to help them develop as writers. It’s starting tomorrow with using some images to help explore creating tension and suspense: drawing on their own experiences of feeling nervous, anxious and tense and linking this to a bank of techniques we discussed that ‘good mystery writing’ includes/incorporate.

The images are real life images from the petrol station I stupidly stopped at at half 11 on Saturday night without realising how freaking spooky it was πŸ‘»
I felt nervous and anxious so I quickly snapped some pics to use to help develop their ability to capture the feelings of their characters by empathising with me!
I will let you know how it goes!





Kathy πŸ˜ƒπŸ‘

Getting creative

Since the beginning of this year I have been trying to be more creative in my teaching and offer the pupils in my classes opportunities to be more independent in choosing their tasks and more creative. This started when we looked at the Jabberwocky poem in July (new classes start in June due to Roll Over). We explored the poem as a whole class then I set up a craft area: paper, card, pens, paints, crafts, scissors and glue and have them 2 lessons to ‘create me something to show your interpretation of the poem’… The stuff I got was stunning! If it hadn’t been then end of the year I would have extended it slightly to include more text but the summer holidays got in the way!

Since September the creative juices have been flowing. We have created games based in the novel ‘Stone Cold’ and this produced some excellent results: Snakes and Ladders with key ups and downs for the characters in the novel; Stone Cold Monopoly, board games with questions and chance cards. My pupils really strived to show they’d understood and engaged with the story and characters.

More recently (today) we made a range of firework/ bonfire night themes texts: poems, information leaflets, word walls and the odd firework!

In addition to my year 9s’ wonderful class work they have produced some quite breath-taking projects exploring changes in the English Language inspired by a lesson I did on the new additions to the OED and more recently an Identity themed homework (inspired by Rachel Jones).

I know this probably isn’t anything that you’re not already doing but thought if share!

Kathy πŸ˜ƒ








Getting them settled and focused

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the little things you do that have become a regular and relied-upon instrument in your teaching took kit; this morning whilst reading @danwilliams1984’s blog post about 20word challenges I was reminded of the strategy I use regularly with classes to help calm, settle and focus them for my lesson.

“The 5 Minute Word Challenge”




Bored of Displays?!

Since the summer holiday, I have been trying to redo/revamp/reinvigorate the display boards in ‘Room 3’. Unfortunately I don’t have my own classroom, 9 English teachers share 5 class rooms, so you can imagine they get a little messy and a little unkempt because no one has full ownership or responsibility for their own room. Luckily however, this year, I have been timetabled in ‘Room 3’ for the vast majority of my lessons and I love it! It’s the best class room on our corridor, in my opinion because it has a mini stage in an alcove to the side of the room, so it’s perfect from Drama, and being a Drama and English teacher, I find this a particular bonus! It also means I have a lovely bay window that I can stick more things on!!

Just before the summer term ended I was appointed as a Lead Practitioner so over the summer I thought it would be good to make a start on preparing my classroom so that it really focused and advocated effective teaching and learning. I magpied ideas from Twitter (particular thanks and gratitude go to @LauraLolder and @fod3 for their ideas and resources) and set to creating new displays and updating existing ones. One I am particularly proud of is my Teaching and Learning themed board: ‘How/What are we learning?’ On this board, which is at the front of the room by the whiteboard, I have lots of key pedagogical terminology, techniques and prompts for effective learning. One of my best resources are my ‘What Went Well/Even Better If’ slips that have the visual images of thought and speech bubbles on. Pupils use these at any time in the lesson to reflect on their learning, confidence and progress and they use them really well. I am also pleased with the boards I have dedicated to GCSE information and KS3. I am nearly done with the KS3 one, just need to add my vocab ideas (another borrowed idea from Twitter!). I hope that the pupils in KS4 will refer to the GCSE board if they need information or want to see WAGOLL.

I really hope that the pupils feel they’re as useful as I want them to be for them! I am referring to them in lessons and they have been on the ball when we have played ‘spot the differences in room 3’ every week since the new term began! It makes my day when one pupil asks what something is or how something is spelt and another pupil shouts out ‘it’s on the board!’.

My last mission is to add a ‘stuck station’ header up near Literacy Corner that will encourage pupils to be more independent and seek their own ways to solve a problem. This will be used as a physical place where pupils can go to to pick up help sheets that I have prepared for that lesson or for advice on how to become ‘unstuck’ with some pointers for example on what to do before asking me for help. I will upload an image of that when it’s done. I am currently playing with train signs on google images and trying to add my own text so it looks like a train station sign *geek*!!

Here are some images of ‘Room 3’.










I am particularly interested in pupils being able to make the best progress possible so I am proud of my colour coded thought bubbles above the White Board that correspond to Writing assessment focuses for levels 3-6 they are great for AfL and pupils’ reflection.
I have also tried to add some personal touches with my Penguin book cover mobile and my poetry post cards.

I have really enjoyed doing my displays; it’s been a bit of a hard slog but when people comment on how nice the room looks or when the pupils use the displays I know it’s been worth it!
What do you do in your class room? Please share too!
Kathy πŸ™‚