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Showing posts from January, 2013

Assisting Student Writers to Make Best Use of Their Notebooks

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Students frequently need extra guidance and support in those early stages of the year to develop that essential momentum and confidence necessary for successful writing. They are learning to trust a new teacher, new surroundings, and maybe new classmates. There is a lot to consider. It takes a little time to adapt to new routines and expectations when the new school is beginning. What does this teacher expect of me as a reader and writer?


How do we as teachers assist students to gain trust and momentum as writers?

Well, if it is your intention that students use a writer’s notebook, then you will have to gently lead them forward by revealing the hidden potential of this writer’s resource, showing them how it can play a vital role in their daily lives as writers.
Used appropriately, Writer’s notebooks allow developing writers to make stronger connections to the world surrounding them. The harvesting and documenting of their daily lives provides an easy, informal way to start thinking abou…

Launching Your Writing Program with Purpose

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To be most effective as teachers of writing we must issue an invitation to students to become involved in the things that writers in the wider world actually do. As teachers, we too need to do these important things. If we do the very things we’re asking students to undertake, we significantly increase the possibility the year in writing achieves the lofty goals we set.
The creation of a predictable, literate environment where thinking, reflection, revising, and sustained purposeful writing are valued should be the light that drives us forward. So, as a new school year appears in front of us (in Australia) I share the following ideas about writing to assist in your important work:
·Share your reading and writing life. Allow your students to see you as a joyfully literate adult.Make your own writing visible from day one. Students learn by seeing the writing process in action, being modeled consistently by the most proficient writer in that classroom— you, the teacher! ·Share the ways yo…

Slice of Life Story - A Little Distance Helps

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I have been thinking about the effects of distance…
In my final year of high school I travelled to Central Australia with my teachers and classmates and in that vast remote space experienced the night sky in a manner I could never have imagined.
One evening, in the middle of the Simpson Desert, we were camped adjacent to an artesian waterhole situated on a gibber plain. ‘Gibber’ is an aboriginal word loosely translating to ‘stones able to be picked up in the hand and thrown,’ -so the surrounding landscape was a carpet of small stones stretching to the horizon. In that isolated location, so removed from the city, the night sky put on a display forever etched in my memory bank. The stars shone with an intensity I had never previously experienced. A star garden of luminous quality greeted our collective eyes as we stood gazing into the darkness. The moon and the stars illuminated the gibber plain, transforming it into an illusionary world of snow. A trick of the light?  Absolutely! But, m…

Slice of Life Story - Writing in a World of Wonders

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In the John Prine song, ‘Angel From Montgomery’ Bonnie Raitt’s uniquely evocative voice sings,
‘But how the hell can a person
Go on to work in the morning
To come home in the evening
And have nothing to say.’

I sense a profound sadness in these words. It tells a story of people we have all encountered at some stage in our lives. Too many people experience their worldly existence in this way. They are undernourished souls. Their days drift by. They mean nothing.  The new day holds no demonstrable attraction. Detached and desensitized to the world around them, these diminished souls live a life detached from the abundant rich pickings that surrounds daily existence. Opportunities slide by. Opportunities to enjoy the simple pleasures of this world don’t register. A bland existence is their dubious prize…
I have just moved to a new house, a new neighborhood. To connect more fully with my new surroundings, I have increased the amount of walking I am doing. I deliberately choose to walk in differ…

Summer Sustains The Writing Life

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I have been away from here for some time. Almost a month, but I have not been neglecting my writing and reading life. Oh no, far from it. In fact, I have been feeding it in the same way a devoted gardener feeds and nurtures a plot of vegetables or a stand of roses. I have been immersed in my writer’s notebook as my summer days allow.  For me, it is a time of increased recreational reading. The input.  Books of my choosing, that waited patiently for me to pull them down from the shelves of my study and joyfully open. I dive into these books with a zeal borne of impatience. There is never enough time to indulge, but I try. Books, newspapers, e-reading, fuels my reading life and gently chips away at my ignorance. -Nourishment for the mind, the heart, the soul. I roll around in this sea of words, savoring them. I delight in the craft of fellow writers and their sublime word usage. I celebrate individual words and phrase, wishing I had written them myself. I ponder over viewpoints and obse…