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Specialist books aimed at teachers and other professionals in education.
April 2021 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Designed to support the KS2 National Curriculum, this rich resource will help young writers get to grips with grammar in clear and meaningful ways that will enhance their writing. It’s also a handy time-saver for teachers, providing as it does excellent examples that demonstrate grammar in action. The book really stands out for the author’s ability to explain tricky-to-grasp points of grammar through the lens of their purpose. Let’s take fronted adverbials as an example. After explaining what they are (words “used for beginning sentences by focussing on location, time, frequency, manner or the degree in which something is happening”), he provides a handy list of examples (nearby, here, in the woods, later, eventually, sadly, full of joy, close to tears) in the context of why they’re used: “for helping the reader visualise or sequence what is occurring.” Alongside lucid explanations of key terms, this golden grammar nugget also gleams with great tips on how to make sentences more exciting, with the “Awesome alternatives” chapter serving as a succinct thesaurus. The sections covering themes in more detail are sure to enhance students’ vocabulary on specific topics, from the seasons and school, to space and suspense, while the character chapter will be especially helpful for creative writing, with vocabulary lists for the likes of hair, skin, eyes and personal quirks. The layout is top-notch too, with key information clearly boxed, and lively illustrations peppered throughout - full marks for a concise toolkit that will boost writing skills. Kids interested in exploring their creativity through writing will find inspiration in Joanne Owen's new series, Get Creative.
Over 90 non-fiction activities for children | Having reviewed and enjoyed Creative Writing Skills last year, I was excited at the thought of another book by Lexi Rees. Wicked Writing Skills, as with its predecessor, is a book packed with original ideas for busy teachers. It is clear and concise, and it is easy to dip in and out of the extremely creative chapters. As an English teacher, I am a firm believer in mixed ability classes and lessons that can be differentiated happily and successfully. This book achieves this so well as the ideas are varied, clearly laid out and interesting, with enough stimulus to appeal to the reluctant, and enough thought provoking phrases to appeal to the most eloquent and able. The layout is fun and eye-catching, with helpful hints from the author, dotted throughout. The author’s obvious enjoyment in writing this book, certainly shines through. I like the variety of ideas, from debates and newspaper articles, to instruction and diary writing. It is a book packed with ideas and inspiration. This is a super resource for the classroom or as a 'home school' resource. The diversity of the material allows you to dip in and out throughout the term, using the pages as and when appropriate. I also found that as many of the themes were quite broad, they can easily be adapted to link in with an ongoing theme in the classroom. The layout of the pages makes it quick and easy to photocopy and a great addition to the Creative Writing shelf.
Over 70 fun activities for children | I wish this book had been produced when I first started teaching, I would have loved all the different ideas and the clear and interesting way the pages are laid out. As an experienced teacher, however, I found that many of the ideas, story starters and writing suggestions a little predictable. Nonetheless, the ideas/brainstorming pages were brilliantly written with some super ideas to inspire, such as the A-Z of character traits, the use of a dice to choose settings for a story and the work on genres and choosing better words. It is a very accessible book and I would definitely use many of the ideas included. As with any activity book, it is one to dip in and out of rather than follow religiously, but is certainly idea provoking and very accessible to both teacher and child. Its accessibility and clear concise instructions would also lend itself well to the parent who wants to work on some writing tasks at home, or for a keen, creative child who wants some extension tasks or a fun writing task to work on independently. A fun and well-constructed workbook that I am sure will prove a popular resource.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2019 | Award winning author Katherine Rundell is as passionate about reading children’s books as she is about writing them. In this brief but and perfectly structured handbook she encourages all readers to think about the particular qualities of children’s books and about the special experience of reading as a child – which she remembers clearly. Drawing on her deep knowledge of children’s stories and supporting her arguments with endorsing quotes from writers of all kinds she sets out her defence of the book’s title in brief sections. She is as much at home in the factual – ‘On how children’s fiction came to be’ and ‘On children’s fiction today’ as the more personal which reflect her own views including ‘On wild hunger and heroic optimism’ and ‘The galvanic kick of children’s books’.
The author, an acclaimed headteacher, author and international speaker, talks a lot about empowerment and this inspiring read should empower teachers, governors and parents to have the confidence to resist a data and results-driven efficiency agenda from usurping the true function of education. As he says “The human race has not evolved and developed through history because of a focus on efficiency; it has evolved because of our natural-born curiosity and our desire to learn, to challenge, to innovate and to be better”. The 2013 OECD “Skills Outlook” report which he references emphasises that education has to fit young people for a rapidly changing future. He is emphatically child-centred and believes that empowerment extends to them as well. A successful school works in partnership with learners and with the external community it serves but is, in and of itself, a collaborative learning community too. His mantra is “systems and structures change nothing; people do” A school can only be as good as its teachers and for both teachers and students it has to provide trust, security and a common purpose. His thoughtful analysis of what and why change is needed, with examples learned beyond education will provide a sustaining boost to morale for any teacher struggling in difficult circumstances and a timely reminder to those in charge to raise their heads above the parapet and stand up for the future of learning. This valuable read is not a practical how-to guide at all, nor an angry polemic, but rather a genuinely heartfelt plea to put purpose and people over structures and tests. He successfully advocates Ghandi’s challenge: “Be the change you want to be”
This book is a fascinating read for both primary and secondary teachers of mathematics. It explores comprehensively the use of concrete and pictorial approaches such as tallying, counters, the number line, ordered-pair graphs, proportion diagrams, bar models, base ten blocks and vectors in one dimension to represent different types of numbers and how operations using these numbers can be explained. To begin with, this book looks at the pros and cons of each approach to represent whole numbers, both positive and negative before moving on to fractions and decimals. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division follows, presented in a colourful, diagrammatic way surrounded with clear, logical written reasoning, allows the reader to make their own informed choice about which representation best suits their students. Once the fundamental concepts are secure, this book moves on to look at more complex ideas such as powers and roots, irrational numbers, laws of arithmetic and order of operations before moving into the abstract world of algebra, yet still applying the same concrete and pictorial approaches as before. Primary teachers are able to appreciate the mathematics that they will teach from a variety of angles. Secondary teachers are given a valuable insight into approaches taught in feeder primaries. Both sectors can consider how the concepts are extended and how these concrete and pictorial representations can be used to demonstrate these concepts at secondary school. Furthermore, throughout the book and in the final ‘frequently asked and anticipated questions’ chapter, ideas and appropriate questions to consider are given to support teachers in developing their own understanding of each approach and provide the structure needed to build confidence as to how they can implement these representations in their own classrooms. Visible Maths has given me food for thought and opened my eyes to new pictorial representations that I hadn’t considered as well as making me evaluate some of the teaching approaches I currently use. I thoroughly recommend this book, especially for those adopting a teaching for mastery approach. It is also a ‘must read’ for all KS2/KS3 mathematics teachers enabling a smooth transition in the teaching of these key concepts between primary and secondary school to be achieved for the benefit of every student. ~ Helen Thompson, Assistant Principal and Head of Maths, Corby Business Academy
Starting conversations with your child about positive mental health | Part of a successful series of books written by the author, who is an experienced specialist in PSHE and SRE education, this provides a child friendly introduction to mental and emotional health and will prove its value within both home and school contexts. The publisher describes the series as ‘helping grown-ups have difficult conversations with little people’ and this is exactly what this book does. The lively and amusing illustrations help to engage the reader and the scenarios provide prompts for discussion and the explanations are perfectly pitched and yet in enough depth to provide many a useful reminder to adults. The opening page even explains the difference between your brain and your mind which is quite a difficult philosophical concept to master! Covering positive self-image, emotional intelligence, relationships and mindfulness with strategies for developing the right sort of mental habits and approaches at an early age can only be a positive help for children. Just giving them the right vocabulary to be able to talk about their feelings is incredibly useful. There is a fascinating section explaining the dangers of rumination – a word I had not considered in this context before- but undue dwelling upon an issue has now been identified as a cause of, for example, OCD or eating disorders. The advice and guidance section for parents and carers at the end of the book is particularly well considered and helpful. With the current situation undoubtedly causing children and families additional anxiety this could not be more useful and relevant. Highly recommended for home and school. You can find more books on this theme in Anxiety & Wellbeing - Helping Young Ones Cope
Every year, an increasing number of children enter the Early Years setting either new to English or with English as an additional language (EAL), which can be daunting, not just for the child but for the practitioner too. How can Early Years practitioners ensure that the right support is in place for the child and themselves? What practical ideas can be used successfully to enrich an EAL child's understanding of a new language, while, at the same time, allowing that child to bond with their peers? 50 Fantastic Ideas for Children with EAL is an invaluable resource to help integrate children with EAL into the classroom with fresh, exciting and engaging activities that are easy to resource, require little preparation and are fun to carry out. The activities include simple speak-and-repeat games, visual ideas to support learning new words and phrases and activities that evoke feelings of being at home, allowing the children to feel welcomed and part of the school's diverse community. Traditional games are also featured to help children with EAL play with their peers, as well as feel that they can contribute to the learning of others. Perfect for promoting inclusion and self-esteem, 50 Fantastic Ideas for Children with EAL is ideal for supporting children as they navigate the ups and downs of having English as an additional language.
This is a book which any adult who deals with children, and not just teachers and others who work in school settings, would find enlightening, thought provoking and revealing. As we learn from the little snippets from the school reports of Paul Dix at the end of each chapter, the author has direct experience of being one of the ‘bad boys’ and now has more than 25 years of working to transform the most challenging behaviour in schools, referral units and colleges to call upon. As a 14-year-old he vowed he would change the way adults deal with behaviour and I defy any reader not to rethink their own strategies as a result of reading this book. Responsible adults should be just that – always in control of themselves before they attempt to take control of others. But this book is nothing to do with blaming teachers. Paul Dix is angry but he is angry with the lack of proper training in behaviour management and angry with the unrelenting drive for ‘progress’, pleasing Ofsted and analysing data which is destroying any ethos of pastoral care. Here chapter by chapter he asks hard hitting questions about school policies and behaviours and shows how these impact on students and often in a very counter- productive way. He writes with humour and the occasional frank expletive, he shares personal anecdotes, observations and tried and tested strategies backed up by theory, case studies and international examples. Each chapter concludes with three helpful checklists: Testing, Watch Out For and Nuggets which sum up, encourage and act as a quick aide memoire going forward. Ultimately the author’s message is about consistency and kindness. “ Visible consistency with visible kindness allows exceptional behaviour to flourish” This is a genuine must read that can genuinely transform schools and as his many examples show where improved behaviour leads, improved attainment follows.
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