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Showing posts from December, 2008

Memoir Piece - Left Handed Horror Story

Amazingly I learnt to write using my left hand. An achievement against the prevailing beliefs of the day. My very first teacher saw it as her mission in life to ‘fix’ the poor, wretched little boy suffering from what she clearly diagnosed as left handed disease. She must have thought to herself, "This child must be re formatted! If he remains left handed he will be forever condemned to writing in a scrawl that no one will be able to read. Ugly hand, ugly hand. "

...They tried to say it couldn't be done, it mustn't be done. They took the pencil out of my left hand and placed it in my right hand. It felt unnatural. It felt weird. It was not right. More to the point it was not left. I was not about to conform. At least they didn't try tying my hand behind my back. Watch me I said. I may be an oddball, left handed scribbler but I am a determined oddball. I mean how boring would the world be if everyone wrote with their right hand?

So I dug my toes in –and my hands too,…

Reading As A Teacher of Writing

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As teachers of writing we need to learn to read differently. We need to read for meaning as we have all our lives, but we also need to read to see how things are written. Seeing how things are written helps us to know what we need to teach our students about how to be viewed as successful writers.

The curriculum resources we need to accomplish this task are waiting for us on our bookshelves, on newsstands, and in bookshops. We need to realize that there are so many writers out there who can provide models of writing for our students. We are not isolated. We are not alone. We have an army of helpers.
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When we discover examples of good writing we begin to look more closely at that piece of writing. We start to visualize how it would be if we could teach our students to make the same conscious decisions about the shape of their writing. We begin to closely examine the craft of writing and this hopefully leads us to understanding as to how we can assist our students to more effectively inco…

Memoir Piece -The Incident of the Bicycle in the Dark

The imminent arrival of the festive season served to remind me of a Christmas Eve many years ago...


The room is pitch-black and I am sitting astride a brand, spanking new bicycle. I can feel the prickly sensation of pine needles rubbing against my left leg. It is very early in the morning and I am exploring Santa’s harvest.

Suddenly a voice booms out of the darkness and I recognize my father’s words, “Get back to bed, it’s far too early!”

The shock of his voice sends me sprawling and I lurch awkwardly towards the Christmas tree. I am trapped in a tangle of tinsel, baubles and pine needles. Wedged between the tree and the bicycle, I am stuck with my face buried in the tree and pine needles up my nose; unsure what to do next. I love the smell of pine needles in the morning...

Eventually, I untangle myself and crawl back to bed pulling pine needles from my pajamas as I go.

When I awake some hours later, daylight has pulled back the blanket of the night, so I gingerly creep back to the lounge-…

The Writes of Summer

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As we approach the end of the Australian school year, I am aware of the level of exhaustion that abounds in schools, -and the need to tie up a multitude of loose ends prior to school closing for the summer holidays. Teaching becomes a race to the finish line.

I am also aware that there is a period of time appearing on the summer horizon when teachers will have some free time to relax and regenerate their energy reserves.- A time for relaxation, holidays, family and recreation. For those of you who have intentions of adopting a new approach to aspects of your teaching in 2009, may I suggest that the summer holidays might present a great opportunity to embrace the inner writer and commence your very own writer’s notebook. I know many of you read extensively when you are on vacation. Free of the pressure of the classroom, it is possible to indulge in more personal reading; becoming re-acquainted with favourite authors, or to read that book you received as a gift. It seems logical to add a…

Memoir Piece -Silent Metal Monster

We ventured out on our bikes on summer evenings generally in that tranquil period between dinner and sunset. It is a peaceful time in summer evenings. The heat of the day is gradually fading.

Monbulk, my home town, was in those days a sleepy village. It had an expansive main street occasionally interrupted by shops that gave the appearance that they had been born there. The movement of cars in the main street was rarely constant.

Our bike riding on those summer evenings usually followed a set route. We cycled onto Main street via a path that ran beside the town’s tennis court. We then turned left beside the Mechanics Institute Hall and rode along another path that ran beside the school on Main Road. It was at this point that the road inclined towards Hefford’s Milk bar (drug store) situated at the very top of Main Road. It was indeed the last shop in the street.

David, my next door neighbor rode his bike along the shoulder of the road; the unsealed section between the bitumen and the gut…