From the Sandpit…

Musings on all things education by an ex-pat teaching in Dubai, passionate about professional learning, teaching English, evidence informed practice and collaboration :)


Teaching and Learning Toolkit

“DO NOW” Activities

FIVE ways to break the ice with your new class!


This game can be played with or without dice, students land on a square and then have to Continue reading “FIVE ways to break the ice with your new class!”

I wanna see you Swivl it, just a little bit…

Recently our Director of technology at DESC introduced me to the Siwvl robot, an ingenious Continue reading “I wanna see you Swivl it, just a little bit…”

Strategies for a THINKING classroom

In a thinking classroom, the development of enquiry, reflection and critical thinking skills is the Continue reading “Strategies for a THINKING classroom”

Willy Wonka and the DESC Factor: Being THANKFUL!

X factor


1. a noteworthy special talent or quality.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!  Continue reading “Willy Wonka and the DESC Factor: Being THANKFUL!”

SEVEN ways to use FOUR to GROW!

Teaching like it’s 2099! 4 to Grow: Technology

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 11.57.07

“If there’s one thing that educators need to understand, it’s that you can neither understand nor solve problems just within the context and bright lines of subject content. Learning to be an innovator is about learning to cross disciplinary boundaries and exploring problems and their solutions from multiple perspectives.”

Director of Talent at Google inc

Continue reading “Teaching like it’s 2099! 4 to Grow: Technology”

Context is king….

“The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading” David Bailey

Twitter has been in a sharing mood of late and as I’ve taken, thought it would be a nice idea to give a little something back. Hence I am sharing the knowledge organisers I have made for our English Department in preparation for next academic year.

Big thanks to @JamesTheo for the inspiration and whose template I have borrowed (Jekyll & Hyde) and indeed to @Joe_Kirby and the team at Michaela Community School for sharing this approach.

Regarding how to use them, I’m going to get my students to quiz on the information and encourage them to self quiz. Knowledge and memory retention is shown to improve through the use of regular quizzing.

Make it stick: Learning better and remembering longer

I’m also looking at using either Socrative or Google Forms to create a bank of quizzes for each text, all in one place. Handy for showing where there are gaps in student’s knowledge or what they haven’t understood re:context. Students could also access quizzes from home, if the relevant link is shared with them.

Mastering subject knowledge needs repetition and retrieval practice, if it is to transfer into a student’s long term memory, having these glued into books should ensure clarity for teachers and students about what is to be taught, the importance of context and also provide opportunities for regular spaced retrieval.

@DESCENGLISH : Knowledge Organisers

Lord of the flies knowledge organiser

A Christmas Carol Knowledge organiser

Jekyll & Hyde Knowledge organiser

Frankenstien Knowledge organiser

An Inspector Calls Knowledge organiser

Macbeth Knowledge organiser

Much Ado about nothing Knowledge organiser

Romeo and Juliet Knowledge organiser

Holes Knowledge Organiser

The Hunger Games Knowledge Organiser

Of Mice & Men Knowledge organiser


Further reading:

Knowledge organisers via Joe Kirby

Want to share knowledge organisers? via James Theo

Science Knowledge organisers via Olivia Dyer

Sequencing lessons in the run up to exams via Andy Tharby

Our emerging framework for Teaching and Learning via Tom Sherrington



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Found my ‘’MUST HAVE” IPad app recently “Explain Everything”, an easy-to-use design, screen casting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export your presentations to almost anywhere. Continue reading “DESC DESCRIPTIVE DELIGHTS!”

Back at the chalkface: What’s working!

Reflection Section

Nearly two weeks in to teaching at my new school, finally beginning to find my feet and learning a great deal by ‘having a go’ at trialling a variety of teaching and learning strategies from my repertoire, to find out what works best with my new junior Historians and English all-stars. Continue reading “Back at the chalkface: What’s working!”

Make it stick: Learning better and remembering longer..

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