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Why Not Try Flexible English Blocks Instead of Weekly Plans?

Ruth Merttens By Ruth Merttens

Are you still using Hamilton weekly plans? Can I encourage you to have a look at our newly designed flexible blocks? These have the same reliance on quality texts to promote engaging teaching as found in our weekly plans, but they offer a level of flexibility that was simply not possible with the plans.

Hamilton's flexible blocks facilitate integrated teaching of comprehension, spelling, grammar and composition just as our plans do. But with the blocks, teachers can easily tailor their teaching, adjusting the length of time they spend on a genre and deciding on what focuses to incorporate within that block. Hamilton’s flexible blocks keep the teacher in control, so that you can plan sequences of lessons specifically tailored to suit the children in your class.

The blocks allow you to see the structure and the content of the teaching at a glance, so that you can choose and plan. Each block has a number of units, which can be taught as stand-alone items or in any combination with other units. The whole set together gives you comprehension, spelling and grammar teaching all arising from the same core text and all culminating in a piece of extended writing that consolidates the learning of all the units.

The core unit is at the heart of the plan. It introduces the genre and key text and/or features, and there is often a focus on comprehension and speaking and listening. All other units can build from the core unit if you choose them.

You can select from units focused on:

  • Comprehension - these units include word reading and further comprehension activities. Most KS1 and some KS2 units include a Hamilton Group Reader in the resources: simple and engaging texts that can be projected or printed and are pitched at a reading level accessible to most children in the year group.
  • SPAG - these units provide rigorous, integrated, purposeful and fun activities. KS2 units include appealing and clear PowerPoints that lead grammar teaching and are also useful to refresh your own knowledge. There is a balance of explicit teaching, focused tasks and application in a meaningful context.
  • Composition - the last unit in a Block is often an extended writing activity. It provides opportunities for children to secure the learning from the other units and gives a purpose to this learning. Transcription skills such as handwriting and spelling are often found here.

No unit is completely ‘pure’. There is a focus, but often other elements of English teaching are included. Our experience of language is not pure, and the best learning happens when it is purposeful and in context. You can choose to teach all the units in a block or select the best ones for your class. Teacher notes appear on the front page of all unit planning documents to support this flexibility, and any unit can be used independently.

I perfectly understand that many teachers have been comfortably using the Hamilton weekly plans since they first appeared, and that these have a loyal following. However, I genuinely believe that most teachers will find that the flexible blocks retain all that is good about these resources, and also enable even more focused and well-targeted teaching. And, importantly, they could potentially reduce the time spent planning…

As always, at Hamilton we keep working to Save Your Sundays!