One thing I am glad of with the new GCSEs is that the writing requirements seem in some ways to be more realistic than some of the over-stylised demands of the old descriptive writing, for example. Using professional writers as models will always be useful in exemplifying current practice, as well as allowing stealth recommendations of good current work (and justifying contemporary writers) that might be more to students’ tastes).
For currently-publishing writers for young people who write lyrically, try:
- Alexia Casale
- Zoe Marriott
- Claire Furniss
- Melinda Salisbury
- Marcus Sedgwick
For ‘clean’ and crisp writing which conveys emotional subtleties, look to:
- Keren David
- Non Pratt
- Keris Stainton
- Joanna Nadin
- Dave Cousins
- Phil Earle
Note: all recommended authors above write for teens (and sometimes other age groups) and there may be occasional strong language and content. All are UK writers (no/few Americanisms). My regular #ReadingTeacher recommendations may be useful as some explicitly reference writing skills, but all are chosen as well-written recent releases. These are books which KS4 (mostly) will enjoy, but which also have a curriculum link or some connection to a school-wide topic of relevance (e.g. SMSC), or something topical.
I think it’s a shame that our KS4 curriculum is narrow and does little to encourage reading for pleasure. This page gathers resources to support recommending quality recent reads to students, and also using them in class. Other pages in this section will provide themed recommendations in clusters, together with some slides to present these reading recs to students (I use these as register/settling/entry tasks once a week as another way to promote reading for pleasure). These can also be found on my blog, which is mostly focused on my efforts to encourage more reading for pleasure at school by recommending great books. The blog is a place I share a lot of those recommendations and some teaching ideas.
Here’s an extract from ‘3 ways to sneak reading for pleasure recommendations into GCSE classes’
- Use YA novel extracts when teaching writing skills. I know we often reach for the classics here, but especially now that this skill is tested in an exam and not as a CA, the boards are no longer looking for pre-1950s-style (and currently unpublishable) purple prose. More modern exemplars are likely to be useful to students.
- Offer extracts from YA novels as early practice texts for reading skills before moving on to the more demanding types of texts set by the boards (e.g. the 20th century lit set by AQA).
- Share recommendations, possibly supported by extracts, or simply blurbs and covers on slides for topical reads or good reads linked to students’ interests (including the canny use of TV shows and films as genre guides – here‘s my sizable list from the summer). This makes a nice plenary as a ‘how do these link to the lesson?’ or an end of half term task: choose one or two to look out for and read over half term (it’s always worth promoting libraries – kids don’t have to BUY books to read them…)
Choose ‘blog’ from the top menu for more.
Download a copy of my original Summer Reading Suggestions for students. We gave this to KS4 students, but most are also suitable for KS5 or more able KS3s.
If you teach English Language A Level, I’d recommend the following online resources:
- Membership of the English Language List (take a personal subscription on this site). This email list is where teachers of A Level Language share resources and discuss aspects of the course. It’s a brilliant community and we all learn a lot from each other.
- The relatively new site The Grammar Teacher, maintained by Dick Hudson and Geoff Dean has lots of helpful (and recent and positive) material about grammar.
- Membership of Teachit
- Subscription to Emagazine and EMC Extra. Emag is a fantastic magazine for sixth form students of English (all varieties!) and EMC extra is an online resource which is growing all the time. I particularly appreciate the video clips with academics on specific (and often tricky) details.
- Dan Clayton’s blogs – on English language and on teaching grammar
- The Linguistic Research Digest blog, maintained by Sue Fox and Jenny Cheshire
- Membership of English Edusites
As for books:
- David Crystal’s “” is great to have in the department.
- Deborah Cameron’s “” is excellent if you’re less confident on word classes and syntax.
- The “Language of …”, “Living Language” and “Intertext” series are good for student reference, especially for Language Investigations.
- For the AQA spec, the (by authors of the old Nelson Thornes ones) is also particularly good 🙂
- (note: book links are affiliate links to Amazon)
Where to find more support for teaching A Level English Language; advice on teaching reading and writing, and recommendations for good reads for young adults (also see the blog for a lot more on this).
I thought it would be good in this umpteenth version of the site to add in a bit more for teachers, so I’ve tried to cluster together some of the stuff that you might not have seen from elsewhere that I hope is helpful. My Reading page will be forever updating, as it draws from my blog and twitter to pull reading recommendations and the posts relevant to teachers, as well as featuring my 2016 summer reading list that tries to match tastes to TV/film and hobbies/interests etc.
You may wish to follow my Facebook page, as that is where I occasionally share updates, as well as links to useful stuff online for Language. I also do this (much more reliably) on Twitter, but then I do everything on Twitter, so you also get a lot of book chat, dogs and writing stuff, as well as personal/political comments. I also use FB to give tips on how the articles/resources could be used in the classroom (which there isn’t really room for on Twitter) as I am really aiming the FB page at teachers and not students.