Explaining in the Primary School

Explaining in the Primary School

Explaining in the Primary School

Explaining in the Primary School


This book is one of a set of eight innovative yet practical resource books for teachers, focussing on the classroom and covering vital skills for primary and secondary teachers. The books are strongly influenced by the findings of numerous research projects during which hundreds of teachers were observed at work. The first editions of the series were best sellers, and these revised second editions will be equally welcomed by teachers eager to improve their teaching skills. Ted Wragg and George Brown show what explanation is and what it aims to do. The book explores the various strategies open to teachers and, through a combination of activities and discussion points, helps them to build up a repertoire of ideas, approaches and techniques which are suitable for various situations, as well as evaluate the effectiveness of their explanations in the classroom. Along the way it covers such issues as: *the use of an appropriate language register *the place of analogies *building on children's questions *coping strategies for effective explanation The ability to explain something clearly is a skill which effective teachers use every day. Explanation is the foundation on which the success or failure of a great deal of other forms of teaching can rest. Well done, it saves time and provides motivation. Badly done, it produces uncertainty, or even puts children off their studies.


Improving the quality of learning in primary schools, and preparing children for what will probably be a long and complex life in the twenty-first century, requires the highest quality of teaching and professional training. The Successful Teaching Series focuses on the essence of classroom competence, on those professional skills that make a real difference to children, such as the ability to explain clearly, to ask intelligent and thought-provoking questions, to manage classes effectively and to use the assessment of progress to enhance pupils' learning.

'Success' may be defined in many ways. For some it is seen purely in test scores, for others it is a broader issue, involving the whole child. In this series we report what teachers have done that has been judged to be successful or unsuccessful. To do this several criteria have been used: headteachers' assessments, pupil progress measures, esteem from fellow teachers or from children. Skilful teachers ensure that their classes learn something worthwhile; unskilful teachers may turn off that delicate trip-switch in children's psyche which keeps their minds open to lifelong learning.

Experienced teachers engage in hundreds of exchanges every single day of their career, thousands in a year, millions over a professional lifetime. Teaching consists of dozens of favoured strategies that become embedded in deep structures, for there is no time to re-think every single move in a busy classroom. Many decisions are made by teachers in less than a second, so once these deep structures have been laid down they are not always amenable to change, even if a school has a well-developed professional development programme. Reflecting on practice alone or with colleagues does enable teachers to think about what they do away from the immediate pressures of rapid interaction and speedy change.

Rejecting the notion that there is only one way to teach, this series of books explores some of the many strategies available to teachers, as well as the patterns of classroom organisation which best assist pupil learning. It demonstrates that teachers, even when working to predetermined work schemes and

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