Product reviews for Making Every Primary Lesson Count

Lisa Coe, Readings and Musings blog
"My reading viewpoint

I was lucky enough to hear Jo Payne keynote and speak in a workshop at Southern Rocks in February 2018, where she spoke of some of the strategies from this book. Her discussion and passion was enough to make me want to read and discover more.

I read with the viewpoint of a) sharing ideas with the primary teachers I work with in my current role and b) continuing to develop my understanding of teaching in primary.


This book is one in a series of books -˜Making every [insert phase/subject] lesson count' and, as explained in the book, this particular tome is borne of the -˜Making every lesson count' book. This book takes the areas explored in this book and applies this to a primary setting, considering the research as well as offering practical tips and advice. I really like the fact that the examples contextualising the advice cover a range of primary subjects - not just the core subjects but elements like Art as well.

The themes covered in the book are challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, feedback and questioning. Each chapter explains what the terms mean, what research says and then offers a huge amount of practical advice and takeaways to enhance practice in the classroom. I enjoyed the layout of the chapters, making them easy to read and the reflection questions at the end are incredibly useful. It also has actual examples of activities which you could very easily try out the next day which, for me, is a great plus in an edu-book.

To be honest, little of the research and -˜big idea' advice was new to me however this does not mean I didn't learn from the book. If I were teaching tomorrow, I would have some really great practical activities and tweaks on my teaching to implement. If nothing else, it refocused my attention on what was really important in a primary classroom.

It's also worth mentioning the length of this book. It is relatively short and I read it in around five hours. It is jam-packed with suggestions though meaning that, in my view, it has a great time to impact ratio!

My key take aways

1. Get the underlying elements right, and great teaching will follow. To be honest, I was a massive advocate of this anyway - I believe in consistently good teaching, not aiming for outstanding with bells and whistles teaching. The book consistently suggests that focus on the six areas considered in the book means that teaching will be more effective and I could not agree more.

2. The CPA approach in mathematics is really important. Again, in my line of work this is something I firmly believe in. However, it was great to read this advice in a non-maths specific book.

3. Modelling and questioning takes thought and pre-planning. I often think that experienced teachers do not need to put much thought into preparing modelling and questions to ask - it just comes naturally, right? The sections in the book devoted to this served to remind me of the importance of both. Modelling needs careful thought to ensure that steps are covered and as -˜experts' we often forget these as a process is more automatic for us. Jo and Mel gently remind me of the important things to consider when modelling and the importance of considering questions - research suggests that “typically only 8% of questions are of an open, higher order nature” (research from Ted Wragg, p.135).

4. Practice grids are a thing I want to try. Jo and Mel clearly explain the importance of practice and one of the suggestions (p.103-104) is a practice grid providing opportunities for pupils to consolidate skills. There is a great example of one in the book, but essentially it is four boxes (which may be colour coded to show the concept - love this for making connections) which pupils do regularly to develop their recall. I really like these as they are simple but potentially incredibly powerful.

I think you should read this book if-¦

- You are a trainee teacher looking to develop an understanding of elements fundamental to effective teaching
- You are an NQT or early-career teacher wanting to develop your practice
- You are a primary teacher looking for practical, tried-and-tested tips and activities to put into place immediately."

Click here to read the review on Lisa's blog.
Guest | 19/03/2019 00:00
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