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Showing posts from 2015

The Potential Summer Holds For Teachers of Writing

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It’s almost the end of another Australian school year, so I am aware of the level of exhaustion that exists in schools, and the need to tie up a multitude of loose ends prior to school closing for the summer holidays. Teaching becomes a race to the finish line. The last week of school seems to take the longest time of all the many school weeks. It is the epicenter for fatigue.

 I am also aware that on summer’s horizon teachers will have free time to relax and regenerate their energy reserves.  A time for relaxation, holidays, family and recreation. For those of you who have committed to a new approach to aspects of your teaching in 2016, may I suggest that the holidays might present a great opportunity to embrace the inner writer and commence your very own writer’s notebook. I know many of you read extensively when you are on vacation. Free of the pressure of the classroom, it is possible to indulge in more personal reading; becoming re-acquainted with favourite authors, or to read tha…

Responding to Writing Scenarios

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Emotional response is critically important in writing.  It’s part of the total package. Our emotional responses manifest themselves in many ways. Sometimes it's the writer. Sometimes it's the writing. Sometimes it's the way writing is taught. Today, I find myself thinking about my responses to a number of common classroom writing scenarios.




My heart sings when kids enter classrooms announcing 'I know what I'm going to write about today.' It’s clear evidence of rehearsal in the writers mind.
I find myself disappointed when a teacher doesn't instinctively allow a young writer to hold the pen during an editing conference. Ownership of this task is critical to the developing writer.
I rejoice when a teacher is brave enough to share their personal writing with their students.
I am warmed when a young writer demonstrates a willingness to persist with a writing problem. The inner drive to solve the problem becomes an irresistible force.
I sense a feeling of sadness …

The Power and Influence of the Writer's Notebook

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I have shared my writer's notebooks many times across the years and given that I have been using a notebook for more than 30 years, there is quite an array. I impress upon students that my notebooks reflect my way of operating with a notebook and that it may not necessarily be the way they choose to develop a notebook. Every writer must find their own  unique way when  it comes to using a notebook.


I always inform these curious learners that to be a useful resource for any writer, a notebook requires regular feeding. You must feed it the ‘stuff’ of your life. It is important to challenge the notion that reading and writing are just for school. Encouraging students to take their notebooks out into the world gives them greater ownership of their writing lives. I want young writers to see their notebook as a travelling companion. I tell them how my notebooks go everywhere I go. Just in case...


I ask every student writer to accept certain challenges when scanning my notebooks. I give…

The Power of Mentor Texts To Support The Teaching of Writing

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Seeing the potential a particular text has to offer one’s teaching of writing is a critical skill to develop. When we practice the art of reading like writers, a world of possibilities opens up. Mentor texts and their particular magic begin to reveal themselves to us. We are no longer alone in our teaching of writing. We are lifted up by the writers we know and trust. How great is that?





What are Mentor Texts?

A mentor text is any piece of writing that can be used to teach a writer about some aspect of writer’s craft. A small extract may well be sufficient to qualify as a piece of mentor text. Think of those favourite books you have read many times, those books you know like a friend. Think of those books you find yourself easily quoting. The best mentor texts are those that can be used numerous times throughout the school year to demonstrate many different characteristics of a text. It is easy to teach aspects of writing using texts where an easy familiarity exists.
When we focus our …

The Victorian Curriculum for Writing Requires Some Revision

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In the new Victorian Curriculum, under the heading ‘writing,’ I came upon this statement regarding editing.
‘Editing: Reread and edit for meaning by adding, deleting or moving words or word groups to improve content and structure.’



This sounds very much like revision. Surprisingly though, I could find no reference to revision in the documentation. I found this concerning. So, are the authors confused?
Editing versus Revision Both editing and revising are designed to make the writing piece ‘reader friendly.’ They provide opportunities to raise the writer’s awareness of audience.
What is the difference between editing and revision? Enter a classroom and you will frequently hear these terms used interchangeably by teachers and often to the detriment of students and their writing efforts. If teachers are unsure about these processes, students are disadvantaged. Such confusion hinders the growth of writing development.
Is this Editing or Revision?
When teachers are confused about these processe…

Finding Inspiration For Writing

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I originally came across this most interesting article on Twitter and thought it was well worthy of sharing...

Adam Hughes is an author and technology professional from central Indiana, USA.

 In his post, Adam outlines some very practical ideas for finding writing inspiration. Teachers and students alike can rummage and ruminate equally well if they venture forth.

Adam alerts us to places that challenge the eye and mind of the writer. He also invites us to think of other places to inspire our writing ideas.
To quote him:

'Inspiration is all around us, and, sometimes, the greatest bolt of lightning is smoldering under the next misshapen rock. You just need to turn it over.'
Adam Hughes

Follow the link to uncover some of Adam's inspirational search zones. Good luck fellow writers of all ages!


http://thewritelife.com/need-writing-inspiration-5-unexpected-places-to-find-it/#comment-416185



My idea of a writer: someone interested in everything.

SUSAN SONTAG



The Plight of The Disappearing Educator

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Today, I read with much concern, the percentage of male teachers in the classroom continues to fall. As an experienced male educator since man first walked on the moon, I believe it is important for both boys and girls to have classroom experience with both genders at some point in their learning journey. That way a balanced view of  men and women as educators is more likely to develop. Increasingly, students can navigate the primary years without spending any sustained time in the presence of a male teacher.
Building trusting relationships with students should be viewed as gender neutral matter. It is critical for students to view all their teachers as caring, responsive, resilient and knowledgeable. 
Throughout my career as an educator I constantly strived to demonstrate the aforementioned qualities to students. Alongside that I have attempted to show through my actions and words that sport, the arts and literacy are not mutually exclusive passions. 
I am a male who is a lifelong r…

Student Writers Must Be Afforded TIME

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My earliest recollections of writing are wrapped around the weekly writing topics I was given in primary school. We wrote every Thursday afternoon, immediately after the lunch break. It wasn't even called writing. Our teacher referred to it as 'composition time.' We wrote for about twenty minutes in absolute silence in our 'composition' books. At the end of the allotted time, we handed in our written responses, then waited  a whole week to receive feedback for our labored efforts. It consisted of a mark out of ten and a page of red ink comments and slashes across the page. Then we sat and waited for the next teacher topic to be thrown our way. 

We wrote one day a week for twenty minutes. It wasn't much of a writing program by today's standards. It wasn't much of a way to learn writing back then either. I'm surprised we learned to write at all on such a starvation diet. I was just lucky enough to be the kind of kid who was driven to write in places ot…

Get Ready to Write -Rehearsing Your Words

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I understand rehearsal is critical to my writing. I embrace it. I know it assists me to clarify my ideas; find my direction.Playing with words and ideas in the head is such an important part of the writing process. Think of it like a tumble drier with thoughts and ideas rolling around and around until they are ready to be taken out.
Writing ideas swirl round in my head. I live with them for days and more before they emerge on the page. I frequently wake up thinking about the possible shape of my writing for that day. I wake up thinking about my writing . Later in the morning over a welcome cappuccino, I will probably talk about it –further sorting out will take place. -critical rehearsal for the writing to follow.
Mind you, there are times when all that emerges looks and feels incomplete. It is writing in need of further consideration. But that’s okay; it may just require further shaping to align the mind’s vision with the fragments of text trapped on the page. I can rehearse anywhere, …

Using The Writer's Notebook To Demystify Writing

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to share a collection of my writer’s notebooks with a group of young writers from Sunshine Heights Primary School in Melbourne's West. Two groups of Grade 3 and 4 writers and their teachers gathered in the library to undertake a close examination of the Writer's Notebook. 

I have shared my notebooks many times across the years and given that I have been using Writer's notebooks for 32 years, I have acquired quite an array. I impressed upon the students that my notebooks reflect my way of operating as a writer and that it may not necessarily be the way they choose to develop a notebook. It is one way,not THE way. Every writer must find a way unique to them when using a notebook. However, each notebook should reveal something about the writer you are, and something about your personality and interests. I challenged students and teachers alike to become text detectives and explorers. I was inviting them to delve into my collection zone in the ho…

The Transferable Reader and Writer- Bali Days

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I have recently returned from three weeks holiday in Bali. The reason I share this fact with you is not to gloat, but rather to reveal how this sweet vacation enabled me to claim reading and writing time. Naturally, the time away provided fun and relaxation with family and friends. Following the coldest winter in 26 years in Melbourne, I was keen to warm my winter bones.

 There were the usual holiday activities, and I eagerly embraced them, but something I noticed was how easy it was to both read and write across my days in the sun. Once the fog of work ebbed from my mind, I easily settled into the routine of reading and writing in a host of locations. Whether I was on the beach, relaxing in our accommodation, or cruising through cafes in search of a coffee or a cool drink, I was able to also feed the reader and writer within. Quarantining time for these joyful tasks was quite easy to achieve in such an environment.


Often, we are unaware of what reading provides. We just read, immersed …