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Showing posts from September, 2011

Some Issues Around the Writer's Notebook

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Writer Joan Didion said our (writer’s) notebooks give us away. We are revealed by the contents. Our notebooks are a place to collect and then take those collected items and use them to spark further original writing. As Ralph Fletcher, writer and educator reminds us, we use our notebooks to breathe in (collect) and breathe out (generate).

With these thoughts ringing in my ears, I envisage notebooks brimming with words and ideas across a range of subjects and genres. The notebook is a place to experiment, take risks, make important discoveries or excavate memories and ideas from deep within. It can be a place to have fun with words.

So why is it that in many classrooms when students take out their notebooks the pages reveal a picture far removed from the images I have just outlined?Why does one get the impression that the notebook in these school settings is only realizing a small part of its potential?


Why is the critical ingredient –‘writing,’ so sadly lacking as to be almost missing i…

The Silent Share Time- A Writing Idea From Deb Day

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In her recent guest blog hosted by Two Writing Teacherson September 2, Deb Day, shared a wonderful idea for adding variety to share time. I thought it was so good, I am ‘sharing’ it with you.
Deb Day has been teaching English and reading classes in northeast Iowa since 1989. In her current position she teaches speech, creative writing, ninth grade English, and coaches contest speech. Her blog about teaching and her lifeis called Coffee With Chloe.
‘This year I want to share more and in several different ways. A favorite with past students has been the “silent share.” I’ve noticed students seem to have trouble sharing their writing aloud. So in silent share, I have students lay out their writing around the room, with or without their name. The class then goes around the room with post-it notes and reads at least three pieces. They write their comments on the notes and stick them to the piece when they are done reading. Gradually, as students become more comfortable with each other, I wi…

A Variety of Powerful Voices Assist Young Writers

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Last week I wandered into ‘Enchanted By Books’, a specialty book shop in the Melbourne suburb of Williamstown.http://www.enchantedbybooks.com.au/It is one of three book stores, I have so far discovered in Williamstown. The shop caters for readers 0 -14 and has a select collection of fiction and non fiction titles.It was another chance to browse and seek out books suitable for teaching aspects of writing. Some time later I walked out with three great titles I firmly believe will assist me to more effectively teach young writers about‘voice’ These vastly different books have much to ‘tell’ us about voice in writing.-A concept often difficult for students to incorporate into their writing.

I found Anthony Browne's cleverly constructed picture book, Voices in the Park, Doubleday, 1998, where the author uses inventive voice and vision to create four interrelated tales based around the setting of the park. Browne describes their version of the events, altering light, colours and words. B…

Assisting Young Writers to Embrace Revision

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All too frequently a teacher will inform me that their students passively resist revision as a tool for improving their writing. Their students are yet to understand that ‘revision is the magic behind great writing.’  If we, as teachers of writing want students to embrace the idea of revision we must remove some very obvious obstacles that may be getting in the way of real revision.



Let’s begin with topic selection!   When students are able to choose what they really want to write about, then they usually display increased commitment to producing their best writing. As a consequence, they indulge in their best revision efforts. If the teacher owns the topic, the idea, the response, the student experiences a disconnection from the piece. Allowing students to choose topics is central to the philosophy of  an authentic writing program. If students feel a sense of passion about what they’re writing, revision is more likely to be viewed as integral to the process of producing something wort…