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Showing posts from August, 2017

Realistic Fiction-Time To Get Real

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Realistic fiction is a genre that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It’s there under our noses, yet the writing of other genres and styles is more frequently encouraged.


It’s perfectly legitimate to use a real life event as a starting point for a realistic fiction writing piece. I have put together some possible ways to use a real event as a launching pad for a fictional piece. Kids also need to know that they can combine aspects of various real life events and mix them into the one story. 
Ask students to:
Make a list of at least five real life events (funny, exciting, weird, scary) that have directly affected them. Choose one to use as the starting point for their ‘made up’ story. This becomes the impetus for the writing that follows:
Find an alternative problem for the characters to solveChange the names of characters.Add additional characters to a real eventChange how characters talk, behave or react.Change the setting where the action takes place.Change the beginning.Change the …

An Alternative Approach To Teaching Narratives To Young Writers

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Periodically I find myself engaged in conversations with teachers about student narrative writing. They are often working with writers in junior classes. The conversation reveals how committed they are to teaching narrative genre to their entire class, simultaneously. They further inform me that their young writers just don’t get it (narrative writing) and they are pulling their hair out attempting to have the writers put all the pieces ’together.’ 

I am extremely keen at this point to know more regarding the approach they have employed. I harbour strong suspicions about the methodology…

Tell me how you are approaching the teaching? I ask.

Invariably, a conscious planning decision has been made to carve up the narrative into discreet parts and teachers have then embarked on a quest to teach these elements separately. They then set the young writer the challenge of assembling the narrative. They are asked to pull all the pieces into a coherent piece. The teaching of narratives has been si…

Extending Student Writing Choices Beyond Popular Culture

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s When the inexperienced student writer chooses to write about topics and ideas that might objectively be viewed as being-lightweight, violent, saccharine sweet or even banal, we must reflect for a moment where these writers draw their inspiration. We tend to write what we know and it is particularly true of our youngest writers. 



Despite our very best efforts to expose and influence students in the direction of quality literature and the mindful use of well-chosen mentor texts, (across different genres) we often find ourselves confronting a battle with the strong influence of popular culture and its heady appeal to impressionable young minds.

Kids who have limited reading experience often have little else upon which to call. We therefore encounter young writers undervaluing their own ideas; their own lives and experiences as potential for writing. They are more likely to defer to films, video games, television shows and pop music for inspirational uptake. 

It is hardly surprising that so…

Some Strategies For Improving Student Writing Outcomes

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One of our primary aims as teachers of writing is to assist the inexperienced writer to narrow the gap between their intentions and actions. 

Going forward there are some specific actions we need to focus on such as assisting students to develop writing stamina and experience success. 

Here are some issues that may arise with student writers and some suggestions as to how we might assist them to overcome these obstacles to writing success.


If I see this… I might Strategies A student is just going through the motions with a writing piece. Assist the student to unearth topics to write down that provide genuine reasons for writing that go beyond just writing. Listing, gathering ideas, gathering artifacts. Talking to other writers. Students essentially write about the same topic time after time. Talk with students about other reasons that writers write. Consider writing about the topic in a different genre. Nudge them to try something that will move them beyond the comfort zone they have developed.

Effective Editing In The Writing Classroom

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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…