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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 6 July 2012
This is an excellently written book which, although aimed at secondary English teachers, also offers a wealth of great ideas for all teachers at any stage. Much of it is common sense but it's always good to be reminded about techniques you already know of. There are also lots of new ways of presenting information; I particularly liked the section on different ways to present Learning Objectives - I will definitely be trying some of them out!
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on 8 July 2012
I was so excited about this book I purchased it twice - Kindle version and hard copy! I am also about to send a whole English department email extolling the virtues of this piece of gold dust.

I started reading David's Learning Spy posts this academic year and I was always furiously 'retweeting', 'favouriting' and printing the best bits, and quite frankly, it took me hours! I always thought how useful it would be to have in a book and little did I know, David (with Jackie Beere) was doing just that!

I read this book in the space of a couple of hours, highlighting and bookmarking most of it on my Kindle. Simple pleasures were reading about the usefulness of mini whiteboards (something I've been saying for years!) and underlining key pedagogical tools that have been emphasised by Dylan Wiliam and Hattie. Even though there is an English slant, I agree with other reviewers - this is useful for a number of subjects, particularly those that share skills, e.g. History.

On a personal level, this book has started to bring me back to life. I have felt stale in my teaching and the advent of becoming a Twitter user and being exposed to such wonderful, inspiring people has started to reinvigorate my teaching 'mojo'. Reading this book has got me excited about teaching English again and I am longing for my colleagues to read it, so we can all start making the most of our teaching and learning time.

I cannot rate this book highly enough. Do not be put off by the 'O' word in the title. It helps structure the book and keeps us in check with the bigger picture, but ultimately this is about flaming the fire of learning in our students' bellies...and it does just that.
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on 20 July 2012
Confusion reigns in many ways. At a recent conference ) I was interested that strait after the nice man from OFSTED had stressed the issues around too much detail in planning and the dangers of over hectic lessons, one of the "star turns" from an outstanding school advocated staggeringly complex planning as one of the key strands of her school's success.
It is obvious that one size does not fit all.
David Didau's little book seems to go someway to squaring this circle. In 127 pages he examines teaching in the light of current OFSTED requirements and presents not only an absorbing read, it also some very sound advice. You will find something in here to enthuse you, even if you are a tired cynic, reading it on the first day of the summer holidays!
I do not know David, but have tweeted with him over the last few months where he has the name@learningspy. He is a regular contributor to #ukedchat, a forum which I follow on Thursday evenings. I say this in case you machine I am merely puffing a friend- I am not.

The book itself opens with a brief overview of the 2012 OFSTED report Moving English Forward and focuses quite rightly on the lesson myths outlined within. I wrote on these a little while ago on this blog and here Didau spends some time clarifying these myths, which should be prescribed reading for all trainee teachers and NQTs, as well as members of management teams since this seems an area of confusion. Many will recognise the pressure of good practice demanded from within schools which does not correlate either with our own professional judgement or,mapparently, these OFSTED inspectors. It is good to see a pedagogical text making these myths so clear.

That said, Didau must be a TimeLord. His lesson ideas are often excellent, but although he acknowledges potential issues around timing, he seems to be able to undertake activities which would make mere mortals such as me quake in my boots... So, a little and often might be the watchword.
There is too much to discuss at great length, but the highlights for me are:
1. A sensible look at SOLO as a teaching tool but also as a means for setting meaningful differentiated Learning Outcomes. I am dabbling in SOLO, and now I have more ideas, including some nice diagrammed to borrow and adapt- Didau is clear in his introduction how much teachers need to borrow and I feel no shame. He is rooted in pedagogues such as Dylan William and Phil Beadle and I am happy to follow their lead.
2. An approach to target setting that requires awareness of the underlying percentages rather than the target grade.
3. An approach to teaching wholly centred on what the students in the room at the time need, even if that is not fast for the sake of fast or overly fussy lessons.
4. Some genuinely innovative approaches to learning objectives and their use in a lesson.
5. Giving me a genuine sense that's am on the right track and that the students who tell me that they enjoy my classes because they are fun and interesting should not worry me quite so much since without that engagement we will end up teaching nothing at all.

I intend to use this book over the summer to refocus some of my thoughts. I shall be buying it for the PGCE I am mentoring next term and I will become a better teacher because of it. Ultimately I believe there is a way of blending OFSTED requirements with my pedagogical approaches, as outlined in this blog, and I am happy.

<a href="">perfect OFSTED English lesson at amazon</a>
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on 6 July 2012
I downloaded David Didau's book onto my Kindle and have spent a day highlighting the things that struck a chord with me and which gave me ideas for my own teaching practices. This meant most of the book was yellow and is stored on! This is a small but well thought out book which takes you from the start, through the lesson to the end and the result should be a great lesson which has been planned, delivered and feedback gained for both student and teacher. There are a few new things in this book, mostly to do with SOLO which has given me a long list of other reading to do during the Scottish summer holidays.

I've ordered the hardback version too as I intend to present copies to my colleagues in the department on our return in August. At less than £2.50 a shot it is well worth it. Now all I have to do is save up my budget for photocopying and spend it on bringing David to my school to deliver an In Service Day....

Get this book and read it several times - it will make you think, make you reflect and sometimes make you smile as you realise that David 'gets it' and you can too if you make copious notes!
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on 12 August 2012
I found this little book every easy reading full of practical ideas that help reinvigorate your practise. It is a reminder that there are lots of options you can use within the teaching repetoire that doesn't involve the teacher always standing at the front. I like the fact all these are ideas are about engaging and involving the students.

Fantastic little introduction to SOLO Taxonomy which is a brilliant initiative to be tried out if you haven't already done so.

Short easy read that is full of ideas for the classroom.

A must read for every English teacher and any one that recognises the importance of independence and literacy to be instilled in the students.
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on 23 July 2012
We've recently been through an English Dept inspection and I can't help thinking how much easier the process would have been if we'd had this little book. It's focused, precise and really gives workable suggestions on what *they* are looking for.

Don't think it's only helpful for the English classroom - many of my colleagues in other departments have bought this and found it helpful in their subject areas, because the principles he advocates are so easily transferable.
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on 24 July 2016
I'm a great fan of David Didau and this book is relevant to all those having the dreaded Ofsted inspection looming. It gives advice and just allows you to re-focus on what is expected and how to achieve it. Well worth a read.
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on 17 November 2012
Having read the very positive views of this book on Amazon, I was very much looking forward to reading it. However, I found myself disappointed when I did so.

There are a few good ideas in the book but nothing earth-shattering.

Call me old-fashioned if you will but I find it very hard to take advice on how to teach the perfect English lesson from someone who is unable to use the apostrophe correctly. There are repeated errors in the writer's use of the apostrophe, amongst other glaring ones, with mistakes even appearing on 'learning journeys' PowerPoint slides used in his lessons. A man who makes such a fuss about ensuring his pupils proofread their work would do well to check his own writing more carefully.
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on 7 July 2012
This is a really useful contribution to any teacher's preofessional library. There is plenty of relevant and transferable stuff, reagrdless of your subject specialism. It's very readable and strikes a balance of quick wins in terms of improving classroom practice alongside thoughtful discussion of what we want to achieve as educators. This one manages to walk both sides of the street - clear grasp of the Ofsted agenda but never sacrifices the integrity and the need to offer memorable learning because that's what we came in to the job to do. It's fab: buy it.
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on 30 June 2012
A great little book with excellent practical suggestions you can easily imagine yourself using, whilst questioning why you hadn't thought of them before!! It doesn't matter its 'English', I teach Business & ICT and can easily see how to incorporate the suggestions into my lessons. Having been through the Ofsted process this year I can confirm that the Inspectors rated these types of activities as 'outstanding'. Do yourself a favour and buy it!
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