SOL2015 March 23 - Words I Wish I Had Written



Today I planned for my teaching tomorrow…

The focus of my work will be to show teachers and students how as writers we need to develop a close relationship with those author’s we admire. We need to get close to their words. We need to study closely, aspects of their craft. We need to learn to savour their words. We need to learn to read not just with our eyes, but our also with our ears, our hearts. 

 These writers over time will be our collaborators. My aim is for these young writers to understand how we can immeasurably improve the quality of our writing by learning to read like writers.

When our eyes fall upon words we identify as wondrous, we should copy such extracts into our notebooks as a reminder of powerful and inspirational writing. These words are the words we wish we had written…

The passages I copy into my notebook regularly come from those writers I view as mentors and heroes. Their words inspire me to greater effort as a writer. I write under their influence, I write in their style. Sometimes I include extracts that remind me to write in a certain way.

The words I collect from other authors sit among my own words. That way my words are hanging out with only the best possible examples of writing. I want my words to be thinking wow, I want to be like that.

I know these young writers have not been in the habit of working in their notebooks in this way. This will be new to them. I have asked them to bring in their favourite books so that we can go exploring… Text detectives all. Lots of reading, talking, writing and lots of explaining choices. They shall be reading like writers.

Before we do this important exploratory work I will share some of the influences on my writing.


From The Boat, Helen Ward
‘The rain came with clouds, the colour of bruises.’ *Description
 ‘Trickles tipped caterpillars off their twigs and turned to torrents.’ *Alliteration


From Noah Barleywater Runs Away, John Boyne
‘Noah Barleycorn left home in the early morning, before the sun rose, before the dogs woke, before the dew stopped falling on the fields.’ *Establishes time, using repetition

From my notebook... Fantastic Non Fiction! 
I hope these young writers (and their teachers) begin to appreciate the immense power of other writers to positively impact on the writing they do. There are so many ways we can influence the development of student writing. I can’t wait to share some of this treasure…

Comments

  1. "Words I wish I'd Written" I LOVE this!!! Going to add this page to my notebook and weave it into my teaching. Thank you! LOVE this!

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    1. Have fun with this Michelle and watch how it changes what your students are noticing.

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  2. This is really powerful! I love how you personified words here and have them "wanting to hang out" with only the really good examples! It is so clever to make a section in your notebook like this and I will do this, too. I've done workshops where students pay close attention to Cynthia Rylant's words in her book In November and try to name strategies for her craft moves. Katie Wood Ray writes a lot about this in her book Wondrous Words and I always go back to her brilliant ideas. Thanks so much for adding more to my thoughts on this and giving me an idea to share with my students. By the way, I ordered your book a couple of weeks ago....hoping it arrives soon!

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    1. Kathleen, I learnt so much about reading like writers from Katy Wood Ray when I first worked in NYC in 2001. Good luck with strategy. Hope you find some ideas in my book that affirm what you know about writing.

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  3. This is such a helpful blog post. It is that close noticing that happens within a text and across works. Both matter.

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    1. If we can do this 'close noticing. we are better able to share this important action with students. It gives their writing increased power.

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    1. That news makes my heart sing! Thank you Mary Ann.

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  5. I show my students mentor text and encourage them to try to write like... BUT that extra step you took to add the heading "Words I Wish I Wrote" and then the phrase "My Turn" shows writers HOW to do this work. So simple. So brilliant. Thanks for sharing the visuals, too. It helped me to really get how to work better with mentor texts.

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    1. Thank you for the feedback Sally. The extra step of trying to write 'under the influence' shows students how to apply new knowledge in a meaningful way.

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  6. When we can discover "words I wish I'd written" we are truly reading like a writer. What a powerful example you have to show the teachers and students! It will be an enlightening day for many, wish I could be there too. :-)

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    1. We are are indeed in an enlightened state when we read like writers Elsie. The day went well and the kids and their teachers are now on a new journey. A journey where their reading has a chance to truly inform the writing they are doing.

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  7. Thank you for such a good idea, with examples to make it stick.

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    1. That's always the challenge- to make new learning stick. Creating opportunities for the learner to practice the strategy numerous times tends to make it 'stickier.'

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  8. What a wonderful message to deliver to teachers and students. I love the line: "I want my words to be thinking wow, I want to be like that." I want to remember to say that to students soon. Fabulous post, Alan.

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    1. Thank you Melanie. Your feedback is always valued. My reading has changed so much over the years from 'reading like a writer.' In turn this has assisted my writing. I have no doubt about its impact.

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  9. Love this!! I do this too!! Except, I don't try to write like them. I need to start doing that part too! What a fantastic idea. I know this is supposed to be for your kids, but I love to keep my favorite words somewhere where I can find them and be lifted up and inspired. Great post!

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    1. Glad you like it Morgan. Just take that next step and see where it takes you- and then your student writers. Ah, the possibilities are exciting!

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