Showing posts from August, 2011

Web 2.0 Writing and Education

This post comes courtesy of Lindsey Wright, a guest blogger to Living Life Twice. Welcome Lindsey!

Lindsey is fascinated with the potential of emerging educational technologies, particularly the online school, to transform the landscape of learning. She writes about web-based learning, electronic and mobile learning, and the possible future of education and its potential for writing.
'From hieroglyphics to blogs, humans have always had a need for written communication. Evolution and technology have made use of the written word increasingly complex. The rise of Web 2.0 has brought about a major shift in the media through which people communicate. Consumers of media are now increasingly the producers of media. Writing has become the fundamental skill essential to surviving in a globalized, Internet-based society. Writing is the basis for Web 2.0 participation and contribution and has become one of the most important skills learned in school.

Scholars Sean Wiebe and Sandy McAuley say &q…

Have Students Read Their Writing Aloud When Revising

If we purposefully teach student writers the habit of  ‘rereading’ their writing, we provide them with a powerful tool for improving the quality of their writing. This reading includes, rereading as they draft, and rereading as part of revision. They begin to hear their words as a reader will hear them. It provides powerful feedback.

When drafting a piece of writing the developing writer is commonly driven by the production of words across the page. The urgency surrounds the act of writing,  so the writer is not necessarily focusing on what the words are ultimately saying. The result is often- too many words or too many ideas. The writing may lack focus.  A decision is required at this point. What exactly do I want my words to say and mean?It may be difficult to throw away words considered precious. Remember though, each word cut from the text may lead to preserving the energy of the overall piece. The writer should not retain words that refuse to contribute to the overall message. N…

Assisting Students to Appreciate SMALL MOMENTS in Time When Writing

The stories we tell others and eventually write about often emerge out of small moments, in which there is only time enough to perform a brief task or action. Think of things that happen in your life that, while taking only a moment of your day, assume great significance.

One way to begin teaching inexperienced writers to appreciate the power of ‘small moments is to read aloud a small extract from a book. A carefully chosen excerpt can help children better understand what it means to write about a small moment within a bigger story. To slow down the action and meander about in the moment. The writer may also attach importance to a small moment to build tension and illustrate the significance of the event to the overall story. Writers don't apportion the same amount of attention to every detail within the story. The story ebbs and flows. The writer controls the speed and the attention given to various aspects of the story.  
Chris Van Allsburg is skilled at focusing on one small mome…

Initiating Conversations About The Teaching of Writing

Is it time for a discussion around how writing is taught in your school? Is there a lingering concern that maybe things could be done differently, better?
I have used the following questions on a number of occasions to initiate critical conversations around writing. Feel free to adopt or adapt them to suit your particular circumstance. The aim is to provoke those essential conversations:

What are some of the structures, rituals, and routines that are present in successful school based writing programs?What are the critical considerations when scheduling adequate time for writing and writing instruction?What does good writing look like and sound like?What are some of the important things writers do that could be shared with your students?Do you currently share your writing with your students? Why or why not? If teachers were to write alongside their students, sharing and taking risks with their own writing- How might this work?How do you think it can help yo…

Creating Possibilities For Writers To Use Digital Storytelling

Storytelling: digital technology allows us to tell tales in innovative new waysAs the tools available to publishers grow more sophisticated, it's up to us to experiment and see what sticks.
Check out this link for some thought provoking possibilities.

Stringing Sentences Together

Sentences can be sensational when used effectively. Assisting student writers to incorporate a variety of sentence structures into their pieces instantly improves the quality of the writing they produce.

Frequently student writers produce the short sharp repetitive structures as seen in the example that follows:
I have a bike. It is red. I like to ride it. It is fun. My friend and I like to ride in the forest. It is really cool there. We have a good time. When it is time to go home I have to put my bike in the garage. That is where I keep it.

The sentences lack variety.The structure of the sentences is similar in most sentences.The sentences lack energy or excitement.Here we are able to teach the strategy of sentence combining using –connectives to make sentences flow. This improves the fluency of the piece for the reader. We can also teach the writer to use a variety of sentence beginnings. With varied beginnings the writing is more interesting to read, and this keeps the read…

Writing And Assessment

As teachers of writing we need to continuously refine and improve the work of our students. We want student writers to perform with understanding . We must therefore record evidence of student growth against learning goals we have identified in consultation with said students.

The following questions (slightly modified) come from the Victorian Education Department's E5 document and deal specifically with evaluation. When applied to the teaching of writing they certainly act as a stimulus for effective teaching and assessment.

How can I ensure that my judgements about student work are consistent with those of my colleagues?What evidence would I provide that demonstrates how I assist students to reflect on their learning as writers?How can I assist students to identify their future learning goals?How can I improve the quality of the writing lessons I design for students?What evidence would I provide that demonstrated the fairness and consistency of my assessment methods?Student Reflec…

Leads – Revising Our First Words

I have heard them called grabber leads and sizzling starts but the fact remains that leads are a critical craft strategy that all writers need in their armory. It’s where the reader and the writer meet for the first time. It’s about first impressions.

I am more inclined to teach the use of leads as a revision strategy these days because once students have drafted a written piece one can readily teach into improving the ‘wow’ factor of those important opening words. The young writer has provided some ‘raw stuff’ to work with, to polish and improve. After all, revision is about improving the content of the text.

What is a LEAD?
First, we must agree on what a lead is exactly.A lead is an introduction to a piece of writing. It can be a sentence, a paragraph or even longer. Some children mistakenly believe it is always the first sentence.
It is the task of the ‘lead’ to capture the attention of the reader.
-Arousing within the reader a desire to continue the reading experience.A great lead arou…

Why Publishing Student Writing Is Important

A recent question from a teacher prompted me to think more deeply about publishing student writing. She was searching for professional reading that dealt more deeply with the publishing phase of the writing process. My own search revealed that many of the available texts deal more comprehensively with the lead up (revision, editing) to publishing than publishing itself. It doesn’t seem to get the attention that it deserves. Publishing and all it entails is only lightly explored in many professional texts. 
I have always believed that when the young writer reaches this important stage of the process, a wonderful opportunity exists for empowering the writer to make some really important decisions concerning the shape and form of the final product.  I had to go back to one of my earliest books on writing- ‘Writing, Teachers and Children at Work’, Donald Graves, to find any meaty detail surrounding this part of the process. Reading Graves’ words was like reconnecting with an old friend. Gr…