Using Sticky Notes as an Important Classroom Resource

Paul Wright qualified as a teacher in one of the first cohorts of teachers in the Graduate Teacher Training Programme at Northumbria University and has subsequently taught in secondary schools in Northumberland, Bedfordshire and Warwickshire. He is currently a Head of Faculty in a busy secondary school. Outside of schools he coordinates and speaks at TeachMeet events and can regularly be found commenting on educational matters via Twitter @pw2tweets and on his blog

How many expensive resources have you tried in your class?

Would you believe that there’s really so much you can do to engage your learners with just a set of sticky notes?img_20160922_092613002_hdr

I do, I’ve seen teachers pull out a packet of sticky notes and then engage learners in all manner of amazing and engaging activities.

It’s why they feature over five pages in my new book Teach, Reflect, Doodle… I wanted to give teacher some ideas for using these versatile and inexpensive tools but then give you space to record your own, and even ask others of their ideas and record them. Once you’ve written down all the ideas on the pages I’ve mapped out you could then photocopy the page and share it with your team of colleagues!

You can uimg_20160922_165928129_hdrse sticky notes for all sorts of activities:
·       Think, Pair, Share

·       Colour coded (the sticky notes) feedback

·       Pros and Con lists

·       Starting the lesson with a question

·       You can even print questions or challenges onto them

·       Have learners write down what they know about a topic and ‘stick it’ on your white board as a starter

·       Have learners write down things they don’t know about atopic and anonymously stick them on a wall for you to review later.



I wrote Teach, Reflect, Doodle to act as both an informative book for teachers but as a diary of your own ideas and suggestions. I’ve started the book, you get to finish it and then share it with others – interactive and easy CPD right there!
So grab a pen, turn the page and lets start this year!

Teach, Reflect, Doodle… is available to purchase here

Ten Stress Busting Tips From James Hilton

Welcome back to the start of the school year, we hope that most of you aren’t feeling the stress yet but it is always good to have a few tricks up you sleeve for when the pressure does start to creep up on you. Keep these top ten tips from James Hilton, author of Leading From the Edge, in mind and hopefully you’ll be able to help yourself feel in a better frame of mind.


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James Hilton is a former headteacher working as a conference speaker and author, specialising in leadership, stress management and positive psychology. He applies his experience of human leadership to inspire a wide range of clients including school leaders, the NHS, local government and businesses. James provides fresh insights into the challenges of leadership in the intense environment that is the modern workplace.

Writing for Bloomsbury Education

A great post from Cherryl Drabble about the process of writing her #BloomsCPD title “Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities”

Cherryl is an assistant headteacher working at an Ofsted graded Outstanding school in Blackpool. She is a CPD leader, assessment leader, ITT and NQT Mentor. She has an MA in inclusion/SEN and has 14 years experience in teaching children with special educational needs and nine years as a Senior Leader responsible for running CPD. She is also a successful blogger on the topics of SEND, Ofsted and many other subjects.


I like writing, I’ve always liked writing. I’m not claiming it is something I excel at but I enjoy it and people read my blog so that’s a good basis for continuing with it.

When I was 8 years old I wrote a children’s story for my primary school and I was very pleased to win a prize for it. There hadn’t been a prize on offer for the best story in school, they created one for me because they were impressed with the content of my story. At the time, it meant absolutely nothing to me. I had won a prize, so what? I hadonly done what the teacher had told me to do and I had done it to the best of my ability. That’s what you do when you’re 8 years old. Maybe that unexpected prize was what started my love affair with writing.

When I was…

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The Great Fire of London 350 year anniversary


Jonathan Eyers is the author of the middle-grade novel The Thieves of Pudding Lane (Bloomsbury) and three books of non-fiction for children and adults. He goes on about books and writing at and @eyersjonathan too.

In the middle of the 17th Century, London was the third largest city in the Western world, with only Paris and Constantinople (now Istanbul) being larger. London had long spilled over its ancient Roman walls, but those stone ramparts (which can still be seen in many places today) had penned in the old city, turning it into an overpopulated warren of narrow, labyrinthine streets and densely crowded wooden townhouses sometimes six or seven floors high.

The Great Plague of 1665 had killed 1 in 5 Londoners and caused the richest to flee the city, but by the middle of 1666 things had begun to return to normal. The long hot summer had left the wooden city bone dry, and the wells low. When a strong gale blew in from the east on the night of Saturday 1st September, it turned a small blaze in the house of the navy’s baker on Pudding Lane into the Great Fire of London – which raged uncontrollably through the old city until the middle of the following Wednesday.

Much of the city as we know it today owes itself to those four days, 350 years ago this week. As rarely happens, one of the world’s capitals was given a clean state to start again. Sir Christopher Wren’s ambitious plans for a completely different city didn’t quite come to pass, but he remains the most famous name in architecture to have emerged from the period, with his rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral remaining one of the most distinctive buildings in the capital.

However, streets were made wider, regulations were introduced as to the construction and extension of buildings within the city, facilities were provided to ensure any future fires could be better fought, and other conscious decisions were made to avoid many of the factors that contributed to the unprecedented scale of the Great Fire so that it could never happen again.

For this reason, the Great Fire remained a key part of the Key Stage 2 curriculum for a long time. Even though it’s no longer an essential part, many teachers continue to opt to teach it precisely because of its continuing relevance, even centuries later. And, of course, because it’s one of the most exciting few days in all of Britain’s long history.

The Great Fire of London in numbers:

  • 1,500,000,000: the cost, in today’s pounds, of the damage caused by the Fire (£9.9 million in 1666’s money)
  • 300,000: the population of London as of September 1666 (in contrast to the 9,800,000 who live there today – 300,000 is about the same as modern-day Newcastle)
  • 80,000: the number of people left homeless after the Fire
  • 13,200: the number of houses destroyed by the Fire
  • 1,250: the temperate, in degrees Celsius, that the Fire is thought to have reached – this was hot enough to melt iron gates and the lead roof of the old St Paul’s Cathedral (the molten metal from which ran down the hilly streets nearby)
  • 436: the number of acres consumed by the Fire
  • 400: the number of streets and courts completely destroyed by the fire
  • 80: the rough duration, in hours, of the Fire, before the wind died down and the firefighting efforts began to have an effect (though some of the ruins smouldered for weeks, and red hot embers were discovered still burning in a cellar a month later)
  • 56: the length, in miles, of the pall of smoke generated by the Fire, as noted by the writer and diarist John Evelyn
  • 6: the number of verified deaths – despite the scale of the destruction, the Fire moved quite slowly and most people were able to escape (however, there were so many transient workers in London that the actual death toll is suspected to be much higher)

For a gripping historical drama set during the Great Fire of London check out The Thieves of Pudding Lane  




Stephen Lockyer works as a primary teacher in London, and has taught for the past sixteen years. He is passionate about primary teaching, and talks across the country on a variety of related topics. He is prolific on Twitter, and is staggered by the number of followers he has, follow him for even more ideas! @mrlockyer

I’ve always felt that I teach for free, but get paid to plan and mark (don’t tell my Head that). They both seem so time-consuming and arduous, and yet with a little thought and organisation, you can produce marking and planning which is rich and highly beneficial, all in the same amount of time that you would normally spend!

So, here’s the set-up; I find I work best after school, undisturbed and a
t a class desk, but whatever works for you.

You need the results of a a lesson of work from your class, some post-its, your marking equipment and an A4 pad or equivalent. On the A4 pad, draw a line down the middle, and two equidistant from each other across the vertical. You should end up with a 2×3 grid. Draw an arrow from each left to right box, and label the left boxes Red, Amber, Green, or whatever works for you in the way of “no idea/some idea/got it.” The left hand side will be for names, the right for the problems you notice which need tackling (ie your next lesson’s objectives).

On the post-its, write these same three categories, and space them out. With the books, start with one. Mark the work, and decide which category it will go in – red, amber or green. Put your comment at the bottom of the work, and then turn this into an Action Objective for your A4 note section. An action objective is a very clear, clinical objective, leading with a verb, which can be measured. For example:

Expand range of nouns

Increase explanations

Develop counter arguments.

Put this book in the marked pile.

Mark the rest of the books this way. Make a note of repeated objectives to give you an idea of the main areas for improvement – it really makes a difference for your planning. You can add the names to your A4 planner as you go, but I tend to batch do this at the end. Sometimes, if I’m really tired, I spread the piles out in three lines and take a photo of the front covers – I really am *that* lazy/tired!

So, what are we left with at the end of this process? A pile of marked books, with next steps written in. A set of three groups to work with in the next lesson, and a collection of Action Objectives to use in your next lesson. Marking done, and if you add this assessment data to any assessment tracker you use, that’s done too. We’re left with the planning. Look at the overarching need of the groups, and put that into an Action Objective. You’ll end up with three. My theoretical gut teacher says that at the beginning of a topic you’ll have one objective for a new class, and end the topic with many specific ones, but in reality three is manageable (with specific injections for each student).

For each objective, work out the best way to enable them to action it, ie complete it on their own. Remember that one of the most effective ways of doing this uses Direct Instruction: Demonstrate, Practise together, Perfect alone. Decide what measure you would use to ensure that this Objective is achievable – don’t get weighed down with designing something or laminate this or that. Get them to the action as quickly and effectively as possible!

This may seem complex and drawn out, but the more you do this, the fast and more effective your planning will be!

If you want to to know other ways to trim planning and make it more effective, I’m sure there is an excellent book out there just waiting to be used…

For more fantastic ideas from Stephen Lockyer check out his latest book Lesson Planning for Primary School Teachers

Andrew Brodie’s Top Ten Summer Holiday Tips!

Andrew Brodie is a popular and trusted name amongst teachers and parents. He has been producing best-selling educational books since 1992, is still very much involved in education and has a wealth of experience as a head teacher and in coaching children to pass the national tests.

Parents frequently ask me how they can help their child during the long summer holidays.  Here are my ten top tips.


  • Enjoy the great outdoors. Talk about what you see: trees, flowers, birds – if you’re not sure what they are look them up together in books or using the internet.  Give points for different species: 10 points for a blackbird, 20 points for a swan, a thousand points for a golden eagle!  Who can gain most points in a day?
  • Plan your days out together. This gives another opportunity for researching information.  Where would you like to go? What would you like to do?  The National Trust for example has plenty of wide, open spaces to explore, houses packed with history and, quite often, exciting play areas.
  • Work out costs. What price is entrance to a park for adults and for children?  What is the total cost for your family?  How much will be left over out of your bbrodie2udget of £20, £50 or £100?
  • Go to places that cost nothing! Beaches, woods, hills are nearly all free!
  • Plan your journeys using public transport. Where can you catch a train or bus?  Where will the train or bus take you? How far will you have to walk?  What will be the total cost of the journey?
  • Plan your journeys by car. Look at maps, road atlases or the internet.  Which route will you take?  Which towns will you pass through or go near?  Which counties will you travel through?  How long should the journey take?
  • Encourage your child to read for a short while every day. This should NEVER be a chore!  Enjoy reading stories together or finding out new facts from non-fiction materials.
  • Suggest that your brodie3child writes something every day. Again, try to avoid this being a chore by only expecting a very small amount: for example, suggest one sentence to summarise the day or one sentence to describe the best bit!  Without pressure, your child may decide to write more.
  • Prepare meals together, taking the opportunity to measure out ingredients using grams for weights and millilitres for liquids.
  • Keep up the multiplication tables practice but keep the activity short. Your child may enjoy the challenge of reciting a particular table in less than brodie5one minute, or thirty seconds, or even faster.


Of course, you will have lots of other ideas for activities that
suit your own family life.  Above all, make sure that you all enjoy the summer.

Check out the Andrew Brodie book series here

More information on Andrew Brodie’s Apps can be found here 

For even more summer holiday ideas see our Pinterest Board


New and exciting books from Bloomsbury Education…

Today marks the release of an exciting range of titles from Bloomsbury Education. From thrilling historical adventures to fiction that will grab the attention of the most reluctant readers to a brilliantly witty and engaging collection of poetry.

Don’t panic teachers! We’ve not forgotten you! Get ahead of the game this year and grab one of our great new resource books, guaranteed to get ideas flowing and unbeatable lessons planned.

See below for more details on each new title and  don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BloomsburyEd for details about our new titles, giveaways and more!

Land of the Gods


“If they were Romans I was done for: they’d tear me apart, bit by bit, and enjoy doing it…”

When Lucan sees a legion of Roman soldiers near his village it definitely makes sense to hide. But hiding in a wagon could prove to be a dangerous mistake. And falling asleep in the wagon is not the best idea that Lucan has ever had.

Trapped as a Roman slave, can Lucan find his way home… and does he even want to? Find out more here

The Bet

The BetEveryone wants to go on the school trip but no one can afford it. Ed, Zac, Becca and Kat decide to try and work for the money. Soon, it is boys versus girls in a bet to see who can raise the most and that’s when the trouble starts. One thing’s for sure; the competition starts here!

Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper and with a dyslexia friendly font, The Bet is aimed at readers aged 11+ and has a manageable length (72 pages) and reading age (9+).                                                                  Find out more here

Sea Wolf

9781472924889Maya’s little brother Ethan is always telling stories about the Sea Wolf, the monster in the sea around Black Rock. Maya doesn’t believe Ethan’s lies but she does believe the sea is dangerous so, when Ethan tries to prove he can kayak to Black Rock, she knows she has to try to save him. Will either of them make it back from the dark and deadly sea?

Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper and with a dyslexia friendly font, Sea Wolf is aimed at readers aged 9+ and has a manageable length (64 pages) and reading age (7+). Find out more here

It’s Not My Fault!

Not my faultJoin poets Roger Stevens and Steven Withrow for this magical mixture of poems. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious there’s something here for everyone. Just remember though – whatever happens…
it’s not my fault! Find out more here





Bloomsbury Curriculum Basics: Teaching Primary Computing

9781472921024Computers are just for playing games, right? Many of your pupils will think so. It may be a cultural shift for both the pupils and their parents to change that perception of computing. However, the learning gained from the ‘games’ played on computers in the primary classroom is paramount.

The teaching ideas in this book use mostly free tools, which operate across the many platforms that primary schools use. Based on the National Curriculum, the book is split into year groups, and each chapter offers practitioners an essential summary of all the information and vocabulary they need to successfully implement the activity in the classroom. Find out more here

A Creative Approach to Teaching Spelling

9781472922458A Creative Approach to Teaching Spelling will help teachers address the spelling targets of the new English curriculum and can also be used to support and enhance the growing range of phonic based spelling programmes currently used within schools. It provides a basic summary of the major developments in the teaching of spelling over the last 40 years and outlines current research and approaches. The renewed emphasis on phonic knowledge as a key element of all reading and spelling programmes is highlighted, as are those additional complimentary approaches to teaching spelling that are supported by current research.

The games and activities will help to develop and embed children’s phonological awareness, phonic knowledge and auditory memory. Find out more here

The Little Book of my Neighbourhood 

9781472925077.jpgThis book provides suggestions for activities and visits in your local neighbourhood, together with plans and advice on how to fully explore the area around your setting. Extend the learning with fun follow-up ideas that will encourage you to explore further afield. All activities link to specific aspects of the curriculum areas and early learning goals.

Topics include local space, walks, talks from community members, visits and games, stories and songs. Find out more here



Bye Bye Billy – Creating Characters in Poetry

By Roger Stevens, poet and co-author of ‘It’s Not My Fault’

The summer holidays are here at last. And I expect you will all be outside enjoying the sunshine, running about in the fields chasing cows or investigating rocky pools at the seaside and hiding crabs in Grandpa’s shoes. Anyway, they are all the things I loved doing when I was at school. The only problem in the long summer school holiday was when my friends went away, to Spain or somewhere exotic like Bognor, and I was still at home. Then I had no one to play with. So I invented an imaginary friend. My imaginary friend was called Billy. He was very different from me. I was very good when I was a child and I never did ANYTHING naughty and I NEVER got in to trouble. But Billy was always getting up to mischief.

Bye Bye Billy

Roger Stevens

Billy left my bedroom in a mess
Billy hid the front door key
Billy posted Mum’s credit cards through the floorboards in the hall
Billy ate the last jam doughnut
Billy broke the window with his ball
Billy forgot to turn off the hot tap
Billy put the marbles in Grandpa’s shoe
Billy broke Dad’s ruler seeing how far it would bend
But now I’m twelve and Billy’s gone
I’ll miss my imaginary friend

The poem’s from our new book, It’s Not My Fault. It makes a good model poem. You could try it with your own children, nephews, nieces, grandchildren or neighbour’s children (when they get bored playing on their i-devices) – or with your class, back at school.

First, start with a few character details. When I do this in a class, often as a prelude to writing a story, I ask a series of questions and encourage the children to write the answers quickly, without thinking about them too much. Is your friend a he or a she? How old is your friend? Is your friend big, small, short or tall? Is your friend blond or dark? What hobbies does your friend have? Is your friend a human? What is his/her name?

Next, I ask the children to make a list of all the things that they would LIKE to do – but are not allowed. This works well either as a class activity, or in small groups, as one idea can spin off another idea. Encourage the children to be as naughty and outrageous as possible; although you will probably need to discourage violent or rude ideas. Tell them you are looking for “clever” ideas rather than simply introducing the word “poo” into the list whenever possible for cheap laughs. They could talk about things that actually happened in their own families.

Now choose the best of the ideas and write them in a list. Look at the list and rearrange the events in the best order. It might end with the most outrageous thing, for example.

My poem ends with the narrator growing up, and Billy leaving. And so you might discuss ways for them to end their poem. Finally, check for spelling and read the poem out loud. It should have a nice flow and sound to it.

And in the meantime, enjoy the sunshine, and chasing the cows. Have a great summer.

Not my fault.jpg

Falling in Love with the Romans

Sally Prue is author of our new laugh-out-loud adventure in the Flashbacks series set in ancient Rome – Land of the Gods

The Romans seemed to be everywhere when I was young. There was the Roman ring my dad dug up in the garden, there were scallop shells in the local fields (I didn’t find out until later that they were used as, um, lavatory scrapers) and there were bits of tiles to be picked up in the park. As if that wasn’t enough, the cathedral tower was built of Roman bricks, and a bus ride away was Verulamium, with its Roman walls, theatre, hypocaust, and rather dull museum (now, I must add, hugely improved).

The Romans were everywhere – but, to be honest, I didn’t really think that much of them. Their clothes were ridiculous, for one thing, their gods seemed full of cruelty and revenge. They spoke Latin, which could hardly have been more baffling if it had been specially designed for the purpose.

But then one day on holiday there was a downpour that lasted so long that in the end the Roman museum at Bath was the only place left to go.

And, do you know, I rather fell in love.

The museum revealed to me a dark, mysterious world of curses and magic; of the divine in everything, absolutely everything, every tree and gatepost and pool. It led me to discover Roman generosity in embracing the gods of all peoples, whether it was the goddess Sul who dwelt in the hot springs of Bath, or the Persian god Mithras. I discovered, movingly, the Roman gods of childhood: Cunina, who guarded a child’s bed; Ossipago, who made his bones grow strong; and Levana, who watched over the first time a father lifted his child in his arms.

And there in my mind, quite suddenly, was the story of the irrepressible Lucan, a Celtic boy captured by the dodgiest merchant in Britain. Luckily, as the boy Lucan tells us (repeatedly) Lucan is exceptionally brave, clever and good-looking, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t in great danger, even if it’s not exactly the danger he’s expecting. As a Celt from the edges of the Roman Britain, Lucan knows just about as much about the Romans as, well, I suppose as I did when I was his age.

Lucan’s adventures take him from the borders of Wales to Bath, and they end in the town of Silchester. He meets the weaselly slave Aphrodisius, the centurion Sabidus Maximus, and Claudia, who is possibly the bossiest girl in the entire Roman Empire.

Lucan’s journey was fascinating to research, and Lucan himself proved to be very good company. It was extraordinary to look through the eyes of a child transported in a few days from an Iron Age existence into a hub of Roman civilisation, and to see so clearly that for him the Romans truly were living in The Land of the Gods.