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The Gathering of Random Thoughts In Your Writer's Notebook

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Renowned Australian author, Helen Garner uses the term ‘Notes: aimless' to denote the jotting down of thoughts in her writer’s notebook. These are the thoughts that sprout persistently in the inevitable cracks between writing projects. They appear sometimes as lists of scribbled possibilities. Sometimes the noted ideas are related, at other times they possess no obvious connection to one another - a smattering of brain activity is captured in hope and expectation.  I am aware of this phenomenon being present in my own writing process.   When rereading older notebook entries, I encounter such notations and find myself speculating over what may have provided the initial spark of motivation. I start to consider the thought that brought such words to the notebook page in the first place. Rereading them is now surrounded with an air of mystery, sometimes even strangeness. I think of these entries as random, but I don’t view them as being aimless. I refer to them as ‘random thought

Writing: Foster Composing Before Conventions

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Teaching writing frequently involves a balancing act between teaching the conventions of grammar and spelling and addressing aspects of craft and meaning. Unfortunately for young writers, many teachers devote disproportionate attention to perfecting the secretarial aspects of writing, much to the detriment of capturing ideas, attention to important details, a sense of audience, risk taking and voice - things that matter when writing.  When spelling correctly is an over-arching consideration, young writers avoid ambitious vocabulary choices. They write –safely. They write less, and they write tentatively for fear of getting it wrong. The writer, perceived as a 'good' speller, may in fact be a 'safe' speller, such is their fear of getting it wrong.  Grainger et al. (2005) claimed teachers frequently send children off to write with the songs of how to fulfil technical aspects of writing ringing in their ears and anything else is sadly swept aside. Any tune the text may p

Mentor Texts- Mindfully Considered

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There is something quite magical in being able to spread the joy of reading great words and what possibilities they spark in the mind of the reader.  It all begins with selecting and sharing powerful texts and simply letting kids enjoy the wonderful words within.   Reading a text for enjoyment before you move to examining craft increases the likelihood of the text impacting on a student’s writing. When the student knows the text, it releases their cognitive energy more specifically to that aspect of the text under examination. Think of mentor texts as a term that essentially means –models, exemplars or examples. ‘Mentor texts’ is not something we do within a writing program for its own sake. It is not an entity in itself. It is an integral part of learning how to become a better writer.  It is an approach requiring an ability to read like a writer. This allows the reader to see the potential in a text to provide them with a writing model worth following or adopting. When we scan the li

Donald Graves Address -Alan j Wright ALEA/AATE National Conference, DARWIN July 8, 2022

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  Donald Graves Address Reflecting Upon the Writing Revolution and the need for Rejuvenation   I feel greatly honoured presenting this year’s Donald Graves Address. Given the names of those who have previously presented here, I find myself in rare air and quite privileged to be called upon to celebrate the life work of Donald Graves. I am indebted to ALEA/AATE for this incredible opportunity to share Donald's immense legacy with you. I realize I am part of a rapidly diminishing group of educators who actually lived and taught through the years of the writing revolution, Donald Graves set in motion. I was there when the research and writing he undertook, swept across the   writing world and into classrooms. It was a lived experience that began in the classroom and has continued to sustain me throughout my extensive academic   life. I   now stand in the ranks of the still committed, ancients. My passion for writing continues to shine brightly and I remain ever indebted to Donal