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Showing posts from January, 2018

The Writer's Notebook-Helping Me Teach Writing More Effectively

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The most effective way to teach writing is to be a writer yourself. That way you can better appreciate the challenges and the joys of the craft. As a writing partner, you place yourself in a position of increased credibility. You present yourself as a model of a living, breathing writer. Writers need to be brave, and your decision to become a writing partner, identifies you as a genuine risk taker.

 As a writer, you surely deserve a place to record your reactions to the daily events in the world that surrounds you. Developing your own writer’s notebook is the ideal way to demonstrate your commitment to a writing kind of life.  In this special book of your own choosing you are able to show your students how you react to the world; record your thoughts, your wonderings and harvest your ideas.  There might also be lists (names, places), anecdotes and words. Phrases and short descriptions of people, places and events may also be used to trigger a memory for more in depth writing at a later…

Helping Student Writers Find That Vital Spark of Inspiration

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To prepare for the writing that will emerge during the year we need to teach young writers how to find great ideas for writing  lying  deep inside themselves, before writing about them with focus. We need  young writers to think deeply about what they are writing down. We want them to write about the things that matter most to them, -those things closest to the heart.



Encourage young writers to REREAD their initial work efforts to see if they can add more information for their reading audience.


Possible Teaching Points Upon Which to Focus:

•Writers make lists of important memories, people, places which could become story topics.

•Writers often sketch important memories, people, places which could spark an idea for a writing piece. They collect artifacts and ephemera to further stimulate their thinking.

•Writers get ideas for writing from reading lots of books. Books similar in genre/mode to what they are wishing to write.

•Writers identify and learn from their mentor authors.

•Writers choose…

Adopting A New Approach To Publishing In The Classroom

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I must state from the beginning that I have long held misgivings regarding what passes as publishing (of student writing) in many schools. Like fast food, publishing student writing has evolved into something pretty much standardized. 

A one size fits all mentality often applies to the publishing phase of the writing process. Publishing should not be every student publishing their writing at the same time, in exactly the same way. Yes, publishing is time consuming, but it presents a powerful mechanism for motivating students to continue reading and writing.

Publishing should allow students a strong sense of ownership over a host of decisions regarding the shape and form of the final product of their writing efforts. I think that for some teachers 'publishing' becomes a beast that needs to be controlled. This need to control is what ultimately stifles creativity, resulting in a pie factory outcome. We should hold fast to the idea that publishing means ‘to make the writing public’…

Launching Your Writing Program With Bold Intent in 2018

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Another school year is on the horizon in Australia...
To assist teachers launching writing in their classrooms in the early days of the new school year, I offer the following support. Hope you find these ideas helpful in commencing your writing program in 2018.

My sincere hope for this year, is for student writers to encounter teachers who are focused on how to write, rather than what to write. In order for this to occur, teachers of writing must be prepared to commit to being writers too. Writing alongside your students sends a vital message regarding the importance of being someone who chooses to write, and sees value in such acts. it will immediately elevate writing in the minds of impressionable, curious learners. I urge you to be bold and brave. Become the risk taker you want your students to be.

I can say this with full confidence; every teacher possesses the potential to be the most influential writing mentor students will encounter in any school year. 

You do not have to be a publ…

Living Life Twice For Ten Years!

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This year represents ten years in existence for this humble little blog- Living Life Twice. It is with equal amounts of surprise and delight that it continues to bubble along. Almost 750 posts have been shared across that time.

It all began back in 2008 as an attempt to further support the teachers and students I worked with in schools. I thought of the blog as an efficient way to connect with teachers from different settings, many of whom indicated  similar needs when teaching writing. It continues to motivate many of my writing life thoughts.


A further motivation was my own writing experience while in grade 5 many years ago. I did not want today's students to have a similar negative learning experiences with writing. We were not taught how to write. We were mostly told what to write. Our teacher owned the topic and the genre. We were even denied the opportunity to rehearse our writing ideas. The teacher controlled everything. it was our task to respond as best we could. It lacked …

Slice of Life Story -When Words Come Calling at Day's End

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Words shape our sense of self and sense of place. As a child, my father regularly engaged me in wordplay. He awoke my awareness of their power and application. As a result, I have always enjoyed words.
For many years I have been collecting them in my notebooks and on paper scraps having gleaned them from conversations in which I participated, or merely overheard. I have  scavenged them like buried treasure from readings and research. Some of these words used by extraordinary writers and poets have set my head spinning and my heart singing with joy at their sound and shape and power. There is something quite magical in the way certain words instantly enhance our relationship with people and places.





In Charlotte Zolotow's picture book 'The Seashore Book' I met the word 'squaggling' for the first time when the author wrote -'the crabs were squaggling at our feet.'




More recently Robert MacFarlane has shared words such as blatter, spangin, scraunching and marcescen…