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Showing posts from June, 2016

The Dangerous Part of the Writing Workshop

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‘We have reached the most dangerous part of our lesson young writers’ I announce to the group of students seated before me.


I lower my voice and lean towards them…
‘We must be careful going back to our seats to start our writing. There is a danger of being ambushed and taken away from your mission. Do not let anyone distract you from commencing the writing mission you have just discussed with your writing buddy. Someone may try to strike up a conversation that may lead you off course. Who can make it back to their writer’s notebook safely without being drawn away from their mission? Stay alert to the danger. It's all around you.'
They all smile knowingly.
It’s all a bit of a game, but the truth is I am aiming to narrow the distance between the young writer’s intentions and actions. I want every writer in the room to have the best possible chance to fill the blank page with their amazing words.
 So, it becomes critical they become aware of the possibility of being distracted from …

Teaching The Craft of Writing Effectively

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How do we teach developing writers to independently use the different elements of craft that are discussed and taught in lessons?


We begin by honouring the reality that terms like voice, sentence fluency, and writing with detail are descriptions of where we want our students to be, not next steps on how to reach those goals.

We need to identify specific elements of craft when assessing student writing samples and use such revelations to help plan instruction that is both relevant and timely. If we adopt this approach to planning curriculum action we are able to teach students the specific craft techniques that will move them forward as writers.  Katie Wood Ray in her book, Wondrous Words provides an excellent guide for examining a text for its potential to teach craft elements to developing writers (See below)

As teachers of writing we must develop a concrete process for noticing craft in writing so that craft lessons can be planned and developed Craft lessons based mindfully on students…

Fostering Thinking Among Student Writers

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My earliest memories of writing are entwined 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 an entire 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 other …