Showing posts from 2017

Effective Editing In The Writing Classroom

We know inexperienced writers make errors. We also know experienced writers make mistakes. Learning cannot take place without some level of error occurring. The challenge is, how do we equip our student writers to identify errors so they can effect the changes necessary to improve the quality of their writing pieces?

Children do not become better writers by writing less, and this is the possible negative outcome from an over emphasis on correction.

Correction is beneficial when students see the need for it. When they have an authentic purpose for the writing they are doing, they engage in the process with purpose and a desire to make the writing they share, work for the reader. They begin to respect their readers and understand their needs. This awareness of audience is a vital consideration.

The pen that makes the corrections must be in the hand of the writer, not the teacher. When the teacher assumes the total responsibility for correcting errors related to spelling, punctuation or gra…

Gathering Stories-The Writer As Mindful Meanderer

'The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.' 
This quote is attributed to St Augustine and it sings to me. Especially now.

Following a time of sustained sadness for our family with the death of a close friend, it is time to undertake some travel that is not only informative, but equally, restorative. In the dark times it is important to look out into the world and notice what is human and magical and alive with promise, despite the dark days that may have surrounded you.

So with such true words ringing in my ears, it's time for some mindful meandering. It's time to seek out some brightness and shake things up a bit and embrace any available joy that may present.

As a writer I am very much aware of the special gift that travelling brings a writer. It turns each of us into storytellers. Therefore it is important to take a break every now and then and just go somewhere. Leave behind your life and all its baggage for a short time and travel to a new pl…

Kids,Teachers -Take Your Writer's Notebook With You!

'Writing needs to be seen as a reward, not a duty. I look forward to creating words on the page. This desire to write creates the discipline.'
Igniting Writing- When A Teacher Writes,’ Alan j Wright

When recalling these words, I find myself considering them in the context of the winter term break for Australian schools. It presents as a chance for students and teachers alike to step away from the learning that characterizes classroom time and restore themselves a little. It is time to focus on things that may have been on hold, to take a break, to visit a place or catch up with a friend. It may represent a chance to resume an on-hold project, or you may be planning to relax and indulge in some activity that feels just right. Something that literally slow the pace of your life down for a short period of time. You may go exploring or have an adventure or special trip planned to fit neatly into the break. It also represents a chance to do some reading and writing.

It present a chanc…

The Power of Writing Conversations In The Classroom.

Quite some years ago I found myself talking to a group of enthusiastic grade one students who were keen to commence their writing pieces. As they stood up from the carpet to return to their seats to commence their writing, I realized that the spark of imagination that would fire my own writing ideas had suddenly snuffed out. The students all seemed fired up and ready to create the miracle of meaningful marks on paper. At that precise moment, I was bereft of writing ideas

In that moment I felt completely blank and couldn't conjure up a single thing to write about. I was trying to will my brain into action. Writer’s block had descended upon me like a damp, foggy mist. It was rare for this to happen to me, but suddenly I found myself having to deal with it. I had so wanted to sit among these enthused young learners and write for those initial minutes of their independent writing.

A small boy stood beside me at this critical moment and said, 'I’m going to write about the first time …

When Writers Go Word Gathering

I once told a class of eager young writers that it was important to learn to eavesdrop and gather snippets of conversation and potential writing ideas.

One boy began to frown before telling me how his parents had informed him that listening to other people's conversation was not something he should not be doing. "My parents said it was bad manners to listen to other people's conversations.' 

I pondered his words before offering a response,' Well, your parents have given you very sound advice, however writers have a special license enabling them to listen.' -It was all I had at that precise moment. I wanted him to be assured that I was not advocating eavesdropping for any kind of nefarious reason, rather it was for a very good purpose- improving our writing. He remained unconvinced it seemed.

Eavesdropping can prove a life source for any writer. Ah yes, a word whispered here, an utterance there, and all within the reach of alert ears and a pen poised to write. As …

Helping The Inexperienced Writer Harvest Ideas

The most challenging part of writing for developing writers is often finding something to write about. This occurs because they are not practiced at harvesting ideas. They under value their thoughts, experiences and observations as potential writing fodder. As teachers we can nudge their thinking in ways that assist the inexperienced writer to place greater value on such experiences as fodder for writing.

It is therefore critical to show them how to think and act like writers. In this way they will develop behaviours that will assist them to be more watchful and aware of their world. If this happens they will be more likely to adopt writing ideas springing from their interactions.

Connect With The World - Look, Listen, Learn!

Essentially, writers need to keep their eyes open. They need to look, listen and be ready to learn. Sometimes a subject finds you. You may just happen to be walking down the street when something quite extraordinary takes place. – like the time I was travelling on t…

Teaching Student Writers To Be Keen Observers

Writers As Observers

Writers need to develop a keen sense of observation. They learn to notice things. Teaching students to be keen observers is not only critical to their writing development, but has implications for developing their world  view; their world knowledge. A large part of writing is related to close observation of the immediate world in which the writer operates. Writers react to this world and the events that occur within it. They stand out from the rest of the population because they choose to capture and record these reactions and observations. 

If we want students to notice their world we must teach into it. We must assist them to grow as discriminating viewers. Developing a writer’s keen eye for observation will serve them well beyond just writing The more we notice, the more we chip away at our individual ignorance. The more we have to call upon when solving problems. 

Observation works best if the observer is not pre-occupied with other matters. Sometimes it requires…

Rereading Writer's Notebooks To Extract New Ideas

I am forever rereading writing pieces from my notebooks. It is amazing how often such rereading assists me to dig up a new idea to feed my writing addiction. Virginia Woolf defines rereading as a chance to find diamonds in the dust-heap. I am definitely covered in dust and constantly looking for precious gems.

My numerous notebooks are a critical part of my reading library. The role they play in my writing life changes upon completion, but the influence is sustained. 

I am acutely aware that rereading is vitally important to me as a writer. Apart from the possibility of finding a new writing thread, I am also reliving the moment in time when I first captured a particular entry. What a buzz.

On some occasions rereading connects me with previously overlooked memories or ideas. So, apart from reading to revise or proofread, rereading for the express purpose of excavating fresh ideas is important too. This rereading is akin to rummaging through a toy box as a child and discovering a lost tre…

Slice of Life Tuesday - Coffee and The Silver Foiled Alien

Foiled Again
Today I was sitting in my favourite coffee haunt, the Filling Station Café enjoying (not surprisingly) a coffee and some notebook jottings, amid quiet contemplation time. Two women sat opposite me having a rather public discussion about a private family matter concerning a marriage break up and child custody. An elderly man read the day’s news as he awaited salvation in the form of a cappuccino to go.

I gaze out the café window and encounter a woman leaving the hairdresser’s shop adjacent to where I am sitting. She has a towel draped across her shoulders and what appears to be a large solar panel on her head. She is a vision splendid in silver foil. Her silver-ness gleams in the feint Autumn sunlight of this somewhat cool morning.

She narrows the distance between the two shops in a flash, before opening the door and entering the coffee shop. She is an alien apparition among the coffee crowd. She orders a take-away latte then waits beside the counter, her silver headgear all …

Share Time -Critical To the Development of Student Writers

It goes by several names. That brief few minutes at the end of the writing workshop. Sometimes it’s called ‘share time’. Some people refer to  it as ‘share out’ or simply 'share.' It’s that time at the conclusion of a lesson that all too often gets squeezed out, This is a tragedy given it represents a critical stage in the lesson. The integrity of the writing program is diminished if these important writing matters are not reviewed.

We should never underestimate the intrinsic value of ‘sharing’ writing. It remains an incredibly valuable teaching and learning opportunity. It should be protected within the workshop structure, as one would protect anything of value. For the teacher, it provides an invaluable opportunity to provide feedback on elements of the lesson just concluded. It is also an opportunity to link that day's workshop to future action the writer might consider.

Sometimes, it’s a chance to celebrate a discovery, a breakthrough, a special moment where the developi…