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on 7 April 2015
The good thing about this book is that, although it is wide-ranging, there is a central unifying idea, that of "flow" as popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is the experience of being lost in an activity, focused, energized, and barely aware of the passage of time. The key requirement for flow is that challenge is matched with skill. Boredom will result if the challenge is too low; and frustration if the challenge is beyond skill levels. Applied to the classroom, this simple yet powerful idea provides the direction for the book - creating opportunities for flow through appropriate challenge and raising the skills of learners. The authors note that frequently in lessons there is little opportunity for learners to experience flow. In fact, teachers dominate the classroom to the extent that it is only they who are likely to get into flow, presumably explaining why class time seems to move faster for teachers than students. We have to step back to allow learners to get into flow. Not only will this lead to greater learning, it allows us the chance to see if they are learning. As the authors say "It is essential that ... we create sufficient space and opportunities for independent learning ... so that we can gather real evidence about our students' learning or lack of it."

The authors challenge readers to list activities they use which allow learners to remain absorbed in learning for 20 minutes or more. Reaching a target of 15-20 different activities should ensure that our learners get the chance to work harder than the teacher! There are some great ideas which were new to me which have proven very successful in my classes. Two of my favorites have been "Tarsia" puzzles and learning grids. With Tarsia, learners assemble pieces by matching, for example, questions with answers. Puzzles are easily created using free software. Learning grids, which can be adapted to a variety of purposes are 6 x 6 grids of words, images or ideas. Learners select boxes by rolling dice. In the simplest form of the activity, learners are challenged to make connections between the words they select. The random selection generated by the dice-throwing generally creates a high level of challenge as unanticipated pairs are thrown together.

To sum up: Well worth reading for the combination of a solid theoretical framework, practical wisdom from many hours of classroom observation, successful activities, and a good dose of fun (most evident in the entire chapter devoted to play and playfulness).
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on 13 October 2012
Picked up the book this morning and I have already too many ideas I would like to use on Monday morning.
As an AST I enjoy reading thought provoking educational books to enhance my own professional development...this is one of the clearest. Really captures the importance of mindset and creativity.
Thank you Andy and Mark.
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on 1 March 2013
this gave me some good ideas and thought for altering my lessons to the more 'engaged' approach. It has good structure and you can dip into the sections you want to focus on
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on 27 June 2013
A great and easy read for any teacher wanting to develop their classroom practice. It really makes you reflect on your current practice as well as giving practical advice on how to improve and engage your students so they make great progress. Aspire to be a black belt in the classroom? This is definitely for you! I used lots of the ideas to deliver an Outstanding Teaching training session to staff at my school. These guys have seen thousands of lessons and worked with hundreds of teachers, they know what they are talking about!
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on 8 February 2013
This book is excellent and very practical. As a Coach and Mentor working in education, as well as in business, and also as a father of a very successful primary teacher, I have had a glorious opportunity to discuss the methods recommended in this book. This might just be the fillip teachers need if they begin to feel that their lessons are becoming "samey", boring or lacking in participation and enthusiasm. The principles of engagement, Challenge, pupil focus and flow are clearly evident and, whether you read this book from cover to cover, or dip in for ideas, it is equally useful. This is a great support to new and experienced teachers and also those invilved in adult learning.
Highly recommend it
Martin W
Director and Consultant
MWA
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on 8 April 2013
A great book with lots of new ideas for activities within lessons. Very useful and would highly recommend to anyone wanting new things to try in the classroom.
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on 9 November 2012
Clearly this is a book written by teachers for teachers. Not only is it full of realistic and practical ideas, it is also designed in such a way as to save teachers time. It uses strategies such as "this chapter in a nutshell", frequently asked questions, further reading suggestions, and bright ideas (with credit to the teachers who used them!). As one who trains teachers for a living, I am already promoting the book to trainees and using some ideas from it to show them what teaching and learning should look like when it is good. This is the best book on the subject I have come across. Well done to the writers. I fully endorse their approach.
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on 12 April 2013
I've been teaching longeer than I care to admit, but like all professionals, it dpes us no harm to refresh our skills. This is easy to read, full of ideas. Certainly worth a read. I'll be handing it round in the staffroom!
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on 22 June 2014
Have had this book for a few months now and it is one of the best in the business. I have used many of the ideas and strategies in it - particularly the learning grids, which have proved successful with a number of classes. When I first got it, I read it from cover to cover. Now I just dip in and out as when I feel I need to refresh my classroom practice.
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on 14 April 2014
An engaging read. Lots of practical tips and tools which can be used in the classroom. A useful, practical text.
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