Slice Of Life Story -The First Time Is Often Memorable
This morning I found myself talking and writing with a group of Year 9 high school students. They were generating a list of potential writing ideas for a narrative and one student suggested making a list of ‘firsts.’ They began to think about all those first times in their lives. The talk began to flow easily. I sat and listened and began to think.
Our lives are punctuated by so many of these first experiences. Some of them are profound and unforgettable, others somewhat regrettable or embarrassing. Sometimes the first time we experience a thing becomes the last time as well, for we determine never to repeat that event. As one student told the group, ‘The first time I ate onions was also the last!’
Suddenly a thought rushed into my head -I know where I was the first time I heard ‘The Beatles!’ I was not exactly sure where that came from, but it surfaced without warning, so I decided to work with it and began jotting down notes in my notebook…
I had just stepped off the school bus and dragged myself across the road to the local milk bar (drug store) as teenagers do. I had change in my pocket and a couple of my school mates in tow. In those far off times chocolate bullets were so cheap. You were able to buy 8 for a penny!
A juke box had just been installed and it was playing as we entered the shop. The song was ‘From Me To You’ and I was immediately drawn to its energy and sound. At that time I did not know who it was serenading me, but I found myself moving towards the player to check it out. I needed to know. My curiosity was aroused. Music has always been a strong force in my life and this compelling need to identify the performer indicated that same musical force was evident on this occasion. I had not heard of the Beatles, so the name was unfamiliar as was the sound. Soon it would be everywhere. Soon it would be everything…
Through the mists of time, the memory of that day came floating back. It is such a strong and clear recollection and it arrives as a pleasant surprise.
Another school year is on the horizon in Australia... To assist teachers launching writing in their classrooms in the early days of the new school year, I offer the following support. Hope you find these ideas helpful in commencing your writing program in 2018.
My sincere hope for this year, is for student writers to encounter teachers who are focused on how to write, rather than what to write. In order for this to occur, teachers of writing must be prepared to commit to being writers too. Writing alongside your students sends a vital message regarding the importance of being someone who chooses to write, and sees value in such acts. it will immediately elevate writing in the minds of impressionable, curious learners. I urge you to be bold and brave. Become the risk taker you want your students to be.
I can say this with full confidence; every teacher possesses the potential to be the most influential writing mentor students will encounter in any school year.
To prepare for the writing that will emerge during the year we need to teach young writers how to find great ideas for writing lying deep inside themselves, before writing about them with focus. We need young writers to think deeply about what they are writing down. We want them to write about the things that matter most to them, -those things closest to the heart.
Encourage young writers to REREAD their initial work efforts to see if they can add more information for their reading audience.
Possible Teaching Points Upon Which to Focus:
•Writers make lists of important memories, people, places which could become story topics.
•Writers often sketch important memories, people, places which could spark an idea for a writing piece. They collect artifacts and ephemera to further stimulate their thinking.
•Writers get ideas for writing from reading lots of books. Books similar in genre/mode to what they are wishing to write.
•Writers identify and learn from their mentor authors.
Writing What You Read I am acutely aware what I read influences what I write. With that thought at the front of my thoughts today, I find myself reflecting on my summer reading.
It just so happens that during the summer I was fortunate enough to receive two poetry books as gifts and managed to find three more, I purchased myself. All in all it was a rather eclectic collection of poems, to say the least. That fact just added to the appeal.
The books were as follows:
Book of Longing, Leonard Cohen Forever Words, Johny Cash Jelly boots, Smelly Boots, Michael Rosen The Everyday Poet, Edited by Deborah Alma How To Write Poetry, Michael Rosen
Exposure to these books means poetry has been right up front in my thinking when I consider potential writing ideas. My current writer's notebook reflects this strong influence.
American poet, Ted Kooser said,‘You should read at least one hundred poems before you write one.’ Kooser’s words are essentially about immersion. So, having spent the summer immers…
A Name Means Everything From my study I often hear one of our neighbours calling her dogs in the forlorn hope that they will obey her commands.
Ava and Theo, her two strong willed Pugs regularly pay her no mind. They are her untamed babies, wild and willful. Despite her numerous pleas for compliance they continue to wander and scamper off in directions of their own choosing. ‘Theo, come back now!’ ‘Ava, Ava, no!’ ‘Ava, Theo, come here, right now!’ Those defiant little dogs feign deafness and snuffle away, only returning when good and ready. The pugly truth is they are quite naughty.
I chuckle each time I hear the plaintive cries. Those dogs have the coolest names though. Theo and Ava. With names like that I feel they should be a geriatric couple defying the dimming of their days with age inappropriate behaviour, rather than two tiny Pug dogs. I wonder where those doggy names originated? I’m sure there’s a story there...
Quite some years ago, Vicki and I lived in Mount Martha, the adjoin…
Returning ToSpine Poetry Because it is Friday. Poetry is in order. Poetry is always in order, but particularly as the working week ends. I welcome it like wine on the weekend.
To try this poetry idea I grabbed a plentiful supply of books. I went to my personal library, scanned the shelves for suitable titles before arranging them in an order I felt provided some cohesive flow of ideas. This provides some spine splendid viewing fun. It's word play. Spine time. Something all writers need to indulge in, from time to time.
When I was satisfied with the order, I photographed my creations.
Always an easy, fun way to engage young poets, and more experienced poets too, in creating words of wonder and delight.
The top one is brand new. Inspired by some poetry titles in my collection. It has just emerged from the Poet's oven. The other two are earlier creations, re-presented for your viewing/reading pleasure.