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Narrowing The Gap Between Student Writing Intentions And Actions.

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How do we assist young writers to narrow the gap between their writing intentions and their actions?

This remains an on-going challenge for all of us who teach writing.

Too often, the inexperienced writer signals their intention to commence a writing project yet somewhere along the writing pathway they either get distracted, overwhelmed, or just plain lost.

It is claimed, the more we articulate our plans for action, the more likely we are translate intention into action. This suggests we should be encouraging the developing writer to talk about their writing ideas. They should initially internalize their thoughts regarding writing intentions- think and rehearse before being asked to share with fellow writers.

To foster this kind of conversation around writing it would be prudent to set up opportunities for students to discuss their burgeoning ideas with partners, small groups, trusted peers, teachers. 


The young writer could be further supported by being afforded opportunities to occasiona…

Slice of Life Tuesday- Stepping Into the Unknown With Curious Writers

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A Step Into the Unknown
During my almost six years living and working in New York, I regularly traveled on the subway system. The experiences provided a rich vein of stories and recollections. Everyday brought new insights and helped me deepen my understanding about life and learning in this iconic place. Those times continue to impact upon my thinking and my writing life.

I recall among my many trips, one particular occasion at Essex Street subway interchange. I was walking up the extended stairway when a small girl and her mother appeared at the very top of the stairs.




As the girl and her mother descended, I noticed the girl had her eyes tightly closed. Her mother held the the child's right hand for support as they managed the steps. At first I found myself puzzled by the girl's action. Then it occurred to me that she had closed her eyes to experience the sensation of walking down the stairs unsighted. Simple as that. She was experimenting. The fact that she had her mother’s s…

Moving Student Writing From the Notebook to Publishing

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PUBLISHING STUDENTWRITING





A young teacher approached me during a break in my presentation about Writer's Notebooks yesterday to ask, What about publishing? She was projecting ahead and it set me to thinking more deeply about this important issue. Young writers need to experience every phase of the writing process and yet it is publishing that frequently gets squeezed or curtailed. Either that, or it gets the 'fast food' treatment and every child's published work looks alarmingly the same. Publishing and the student writer are short changed.

With so much emphasis on gathering entries in the Writer’s Notebook there is a further danger it will begin to establish itself as the primary focus for writing both in the minds of teachers and students. 

It would therefore be easy to lose sight of the purpose of the Writer’s Notebook. The Notebook’s primary function is to provide a place for writing to begin. The notebook is to the writer, what the sketchbook is to the artist.
Across …

The Nurturing of Self Directed, Independent Writers

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The Nurturing of Self Directed, Independent Writers

As a classroom teacher, parent information evenings always meant the inevitable question arose, ‘What are your expectations for my son/daughter this year?’ It’s a great question to ask a teacher and I was prepared for it, having thought long and hard about how I would respond. 

I always wanted my students to develop into independent, self-directed learners and I had a year to achieve my goal. With the support of parents and the co-operation of the students, it was a goal for all of us to pursue. 



When attempting to foster self-directed learners, everything we do becomes important -what we do as educators; in every aspect of our teaching  Let’s consider what we do in the writing classroom.

In an increasing number of classrooms teachers encourage student writers to choose their own topics and writing projects. They purposefully teach their students routines and procedures for conducting themselves independently. 

Despite these admirable eff…

Slice of Life Tuesday- Celebrating The Influence Of Mentor Texts

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The Wonder of Mentor Texts







My mind is very focused on Mentor texts at the moment, as I plan for a number of  upcoming workshop presentations, dealing directly with the reading-writing connection and the skill of learning to read like writers. So Mentor texts feature in today's Slice.
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. They become our unwitting collaborators. How great is that?

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. 

For me, the best mentor texts are those that can be used …

Teachers As Mentor Writers

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Just Like You, I'm A Writer

Do your students know you as someone who writes? Do they see you write? If you someone who writes, your students deserve to see your writing in action!  It’s something you need to share. Trust me, writing for and with your students makes a huge difference to the writing your students turn out. 

When a teacher come to be viewed as a writer, the dynamic in the classroom changes. The teacher too faces the challenges that arise in writing. You become a credible mentor. You understand that writing is essentially a problem solving process. Your actions around writing validate it as something pursuing. You can share writing craft secrets with these curious learners. You have made a definitive statement. Just like you, I am writer.

If your students keep a writer’s notebook, then you should have one too, Share with your students some of your entries This will enable you to confidently discuss your writing process. They will have questions for you about where and wh…

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 31 - The End Signals A New Beginning

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The End Signals A New Beginning
Our lives are filled with endings and each one of them enables a new beginning, even the very last one which we all have to face. I have always held true to the saying I first heard uttered by Jimmy Buffett in his song La Vie Dansante (The Dancing Life)- Every stop is a place to start.

The end of this month long writing challenge represents a new beginning. Many writers begin this Slice of Life Story Challenge with doubts and reservations and finish with renewed self belief and enthusiasm for writing. This is the legacy derived from involvement. The growth of self belief. 


This is my 9th year of participation. That means I have been challenged to create 279 life slice stories I might not have realized without the unspoken, inner pressure to respond that accompanies this month of sustained writing. 

The strong urge to persist once ignited burns strongly within me each year. The inner drive to stay the distance is a powerful thing, it must be said. Overcoming…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 30 -Essential Connections Between Reading And Writing

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Essential Connections Between Reading And Writing
I am currently preparing for a conference presentation I am scheduled to present in Melbourne in early May. The conference will focus on the power of reading.

I will be talking about the essential connection between reading and writing and how important it is for teachers to learn to read like writers. Acquiring this skill enables teachers to more readily identify suitable mentor texts for teaching aspects of both reading and writing.

Two strong quotes come readily to mind as I prepare:

‘The writer is careful what he/she reads, for that is what they’ll write.’ –careful of what they learn, for that is what they’ll know.’
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

‘Nobody but a reader ever became a writer.’
Richard Peck

I have always held true to the belief that a highly visible reading and writing life is an essential part of being an effective teacher. Therefore, I must be what I teach -a writer and a reader. In that way the teachers and students I come …

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 29 -Sometimes Poets Must Speak Out

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Poets Speak Up Sometimes
Sometimes a poet feels the need to raise a voice, make a statement, or a stand. Sometimes the events of the world prompt and provoke a response.

In 2016, the world experienced a lot of social and political uncertainty. Think about the US election of Donald Trump as President, the Brexit movement in the United Kingdom, the growth of fake news stories and the emboldened stance of xenophobes and racists in many countries. 

It is with such matters in mind that I am writing today. In a world where shallow news reporting is increasingly relied upon, it is important to be an educated consumer of information. Social media displays both positive and negative attributes. We must afford it due diligence, use it wisely.  We must be willing to learn, grow and reflect. We must learn to filter information and question sources. Blind acceptance is dangerous. Our students need to be taught the skills of critical literacy, so they become savvy digital citizens.

And so to my poem. I…