Trefoil 16.02.20


Trefoil 16.02.20

15 Feb ’20 Teaching 0

When I made the commitment to spotlight three “lessons” or “highlights” from my weeks learning, I thought it would present a reasonable challenge. It rarely does. I’d been thinking about Primary education this past week when Swiggle passed my radar.

Get your Swiggle on

Swiggle is child-friendly search engine from the Online Safety experts at SWGfL that is targetted to Key Stage 2.

Hi, I am the SwiggleBot!

Swiggle uses the very latest search technologies to make your searches more useful, prioritising educational resources and images just a click away,

It not only gives you safer access to online content but encourages responsible behaviour too with an option to “cover your screen while you go and get help from an adult.”

If you like the concept of Swiggle, also note that there is a YouTube kids app too.

Thank you Andrew Hall

Though not currently a safeguarding lead, I still read Andrew Hall’s Briefing. It is well worth the weekly Monday email and deserves more than a mere recommended here.


A lot of my personal professional PD comes via podcasts. After seeing off last weeks sore throat, I was back to my morning runs and catching up on my podcast back catalogue.

This week kicked off with episode 3 of a trilogy, from Craig Barton speaking with Kris Boulton, now the Director of Education at UpLearn. I first saw Kris speak at Wellington College #Edfest in a cramp room some five, six years ago. I had listened to parts 1 and 2, so was ready for the marathon that would no doubt be part 3?

Kris talks enthusiastically about Engelmann & Carnine, (1991) (bookmarked) “Theory of Instruction: Principles and applications” and if you have investigated Direct Instruction, you will have stumbled upon Englemann’s work but this time, with half term coming up, I am planning to give the edited updated 2016 version a read over half term (700 pages).

Theory of Instruction could easily be the most important educational book ever written, bar none. – Richard Dixon

What is new – is that I have the PDF stored in Dropbox and plan have shared the link with three staff evidence informed colleagues so that we can read it, makes notes, together. #Geekbookclub. I am already reflecting on faultless communication.

Group read

Lastly, given my group-read literary lesson, I have been thinking quite a bit about group reading. What contributes to a worthwhile group-reading session? Which is worthwhile in of itself of course. What matters most to the students? I plan to pursue this further…

So far the five boys in our weekly class have told me:

  • Reading a “book” – it needs to look and feel like a book and not a pamphlet.
  • The boys like to be able to finish a book fairly quickly (3-4 sessions or 200 minutes) as that feels like success. They liked recapping the story, their favourite parts – is that knowledge – I think it is.
  • The boys like characters and voices in their stories, for their stories to be funny, funny-silly-David Walliams style (though we have not read a different genre yet
  • Pictures – can be helpful
  • Text font size can be a little bigger than usual, changes in size, bold, helps

I have learnt –

  • That punctuation / full stops should be bigger / bolder because readers still often miss them
  • To check their understanding of the storyline regularly
  • I am often sounding out words – how could the publisher help?
  • I like to bounce the order of readers, the boys like to take turns (that is what they have been taught in life) – we roll a dice.
  • We all read – even if it is just a sentence, or a repeated word
  • Dialogue is tricky – surely we can find a way to support dialogue reading – another question for the publisher

I have a few points I want to add… it has got me thinking.

Lastly – curriculum planning

INSET was interesting. Curriculum planning. For the first time in a twenty-three year career, staff training focused explicitly on the sequencing of learning and for only the second time in my career, was led by a primary colleague. Bold, insightful, thank you.

With the new framework, “knowing more, remembering more,” I believe we will, teaching will, move away from “lessons” to “sequences.” I jotting it down here now.


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