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aaaannd….I’m back in the room!

I broke my finger playing dodgeball a couple of months back. My little pinky finger. This little finger on my right. I didn’t know how much you needed a pinky finger until it was taken away.


My Frankenstein finger! It is exactly as painful as it looks.


I’m back now and eager to carry on posting. I have an interview, new practical and lots more fast fixes to share over the coming weeks.


Until then, I thought I would share a resource I made for my new A-level biology class:

Remember, practical work doesn’t just mean doing experiments and investigations. It means giving your students something active to do. This web resource shows information in lots of different ways, including diagrams, equations and videos. There is a quick quiz and a poll halfway through. Think of it as an interactive textbook.


Marking in Perspective: Selective, Formative, Effective, Reflective

Thoughts for my return to th classroom. I’ve always struggled balancing my marking and this is a good place to start. Practical advice!



Marking in Perspective: Selective, Formative, Effective, Reflective

Context and Motivation

I’m feeling relieved, smug and virtuous because I’ve just marked some books. It feels good because a) it was overdue and, hence, was having that ‘albatross’ effect; b) for a change I am looking forward to going into my class tomorrow without feeling guilty and most importantly c) because I feel like I’ve renewed a connection with my students’ learning in a way that is hard to do any other way; I’ve done something worthwhile which always feels good.

To be absolutely clear, I am a Dylan Wiliam devotee; you won’t catch me doing marking slavishly because someone tells me I should or because it looks good; I only do marking if I think I need to – and this only if I think it will make a difference. I expect my staff to have the same attitude. I’m convinced…

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Starting Out with Practical Science

I love practical science.

Blowing things up, cutting things up, lighting things up!

Science is a practical subject, and should be taught with investigations, demonstrations, and experiments. Your pupils should leave science lessons eagerly anticipating the next explosion, the next dissection, or the next electric shock.

Practical for practical’s sake is not useful. Here is some of the best advice I’ve ever read, from the CLEAPSS manual on delivering practical science:

  • The work must be interesting or even exciting.
  • The work must have a clear purpose, shared with the pupils (you must know why you are doing the activity).
  • The teacher must have rehearsed all aspects of the tasks (you must know how to do the activity).
  • The lesson must be well planned, timed and managed (you must know when you and where you are doing each task).
  • The tasks must be accessible and manageable by pupils.

Practicals are engaging and usually require less sustained teacher input than ‘chalk-and-talk’. They are easy to mark and provide straightforward follow-on homeworks (graphs, gradients, a few conclusions, improvements to protocol etc.)

This blog will help transform your classroom into a palace of practical activity. Over the coming posts I will share my favourite practicals, top tips for effective practical activities, interviews, book reviews and much more. Hopefully I can inspire you to pack away the textbooks and videos in favour of demonstrations and experiments.

Let’s get started!