Showing posts from January, 2012

Slice Of Life Story -The Lost Spirit of Cowabunga Days

As I sat on the beach yesterday I began to think about change....
There was a time when I would race across the broad stretch of sand and charge into the surf –fearless in the foaming waves; prepared for the impending plunge. I would dive into the on coming wave, embracing the sudden cold rush without hesitation. I was the embodiment of the Cowabunga spirit! The embodiment of joy, happiness and surprise. I dashed, splashed and crashed with the best of them. Well, that spirit evaporated fairly quickly. I’m not sure what happened to it actually. Maybe it was the natural progression from the bravado of youth to the measured machinations of adulthood? Maybe the spirit of Cowabunga just drifted out with the tide?
I do know it’s gone. These days I take a more leisurely approach to entering the surf. I sit on the beach under my umbrella observing the state of the waves. I lather on sunscreen and conduct a quick poll of the numbers already swimming. I consider the sky, the strength and directio…

I Received A 'Writer's Gift' Today

It’s always fun to receive a parcel in the mail. Today I received a parcel that surprised and delighted me. A group of Grade 4 students from Regency Park Primary School I had the pleasure of working with last year sent me a ‘Writer’s Gift.’ With the assistance of their committed teacher, Katherine Corr, these students had assembled a broad sample of their best writing across 2011 parcelled it up and presented it to me. 
Katherine gently and consistently guided these students, encouraging their risk taking, prompting them to try new ideas, and supporting them through conferencing and feedback. This approach has incorporated a metacognitive component where student writers have been encouraged to be reflective about their work as writers. These were fertile conditions for the writer consultant to move into, I must admit.
Upon reading these samples I was astounded by the breadth of writing forms covered. I was immediately aware of the sense of ownership evident in the writing. Each writer …

Slice of Life Story -Delight in Doing the Dishes

As writers, we need to celebrate those small seemingly mundane tasks in our daily lives. We need to embrace the wonder of ‘now’ and not allow it to become a casualty of the pace of our lives; swept aside in the rush towards the next item on a crowded agenda. There is beauty in small moments, even something viewed as a chore,  -doing the dishes.
Just because I meander, don’t assume I’m lost…

We share the kitchen
Washing the dishes
There are too few to fret over
When its tea for two
We work instinctively
Back and forth
At our respective tasks
Washing, wiping
Putting away
Never colliding
Never bumping
No clash or clamour
We glide
Through our detergent driven manoeuvres
Partners in a waltz around the kitchen sink
Pots and pans return to assigned places
And the dishwasher feeds on the leftovers
Our conversation floats easily
Background music drifting through
A moment
A memory
As we measure the day

The chore dissolves in a word sea
We complete the task
Rinse and wring
Wipe and fold
The dish…

Making Effective Use Of The Writer's Notebook VIDEO

This video is my humble attempt to explain how maintaining a Writer's Notebook assists as a writer and educator. It's another way of sharing experiences. I have been maintaining a Writer's Notebook for almost thirty years and over that time they have undergone much change in content and format. It is an ongoing process.

Hope you see and hear something that resonates with how you see the notebook supporting you as a teacher of writing.

Summer Writes - Where Does My Poetry Hide?

Poetry should be part of the summer writes. It sings out to be included. So, where is it hiding? Where is it to be found? Let’s go see…

Where Does My Poetry Hide?
I look for it in conversations I hear on the street In my collected treasures Junky to precious I look for it in lettuce, limes and lemons In asparagus, apples, and apricots I might find it in a packet of  extra strong peppermints A jar of peanut butter Smooth and cloying I can find poetry in a cluster of seashells Glittering sea glass sandcastles and seaweed
I seek it out in a song’s refrain And a child’s voice in a playground I find it in my favourite books An isolated word Angry or otherwise I see it in photographs that gently embrace my history Poetry hides in a banana A voice on the radio A storm In a day old newspaper article
I look for poetry in my wife’s eyes Or recollections of my parents I look for poetry when I listen to the morning song of magpies I wake each day and I know it’s out there Waiting for me

So where does your poetry hide?

Slice of Life Story- The Playground is a Magnet

I returned to the local playground last week at the suggestion of two of my grandchildren. We were waiting for my wife to finish some essential fashion research in nearby shops and a timely suggestion emerged, -Can we go to the park?
We have been coming to this park, overlooking Mornington’s harbour for many years. Initially, Vicki and I came with their parents. All my grandchildren have played here over time. I am warmed by that knowledge. The playground is a magnet.
When we arrive, the children explode from the car, entering the playground with muscles twitching and limbs stretching into action. They climb they fall, they leap, they dive; swinging and sliding and hanging like monkeys. All the time they’re searching out the next piece of playground equipment to be conquered. They take risks and enter into personal challenges. They rise and fall incurring blisters and bruises, yet still they persist. Fun wins out. It is a time for the healthy pursuit of a bit of rough and tumble. Thi…

Summer Reads Feed the Writer Within

I am working my way through a host of books across the summer…
I started out with Natalie Goldberg’s ‘Old Friend from Far Away’ which is adding to my knowledge of memoir writing. Natalie Goldbeg says to memoir we must know how to remember and to assist the reader to improve memory she provides timed and associative exercises to guide writing development around memoir. A great book if you are considering committing part of your life story to paper.
I am also reading ‘Beyond Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue' by Benjamin Green. Again, this is a practical guide to assisting students to write free verse. Green writes with a comfortable voice and guides the reader through a series of exercises aimed at helping students create high quality poems. I see this as a teacher resource book where ideas could be adopted, modified and presented. I am always a little wary of books that present a step by step process for writing, -poetry in particular, but the structure provides does provide support f…

The Writer As EXPLORER- Things on the Ground PROJECT

Each morning, when possible, I walk in the fresh air not too long after the sun has peeked above the far horizon. Being on holiday at present has enabled me to walk more frequently.
This morning though, as part of my summer writes I followed the lead of Keri Smith in her book, ‘How to be an Explorer of the World’ and set out for my morning walk with the words ‘Everything is interesting, look closer’ singing in my ears. My project was to take photos only of things found on the ground. Using my iphone I walked my usual route, pausing to snap items that caught my eye.
Since the age of about ten I have been enamoured by photography. As a teacher and a writer, this love of the photographic image has been a positive influence. I believe It has aided my eye as a writer. Small detail is important. What takes place inside a camera can also take place inside your head.
As teachers of writing we need to be collectors. We must observe, collect and analyse. This documentation of specific elements o…