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Writer's Notebooks -Avoiding A Few Hazards

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  Writer Joan Didion famously said our (writer’s) notebooks give us away. We are revealed by the contents. Our notebooks are a place to collect, then take those collected items and use them to spark further original writing. As Ralph Fletcher, writer and educator reminds us, we use our notebooks to breathe in (collect) and breathe out (generate). With these thoughts ringing in my ears, I envisage notebooks brimming with words and ideas across a range of subjects and genres. The notebook is a place to experiment, take risks, make important discoveries, or excavate memories and ideas from deep within. It can be a place to have fun with words. So why is it that in some classrooms when students take out their notebooks the pages reveal a picture far removed from the images I just outlined?     Why does one get the impression that the notebook in these school settings is only realizing a small part of its potential? Why is the critical ingredient –‘writing,’ so lacking as to be almost missi

Alan j Wright- Writer's Notebook Nourishment VIDEO

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N otebook N ourishment Video I am pleased to share this video outlining my four decade journey with a Writer's Notebook. The video explains my beliefs about the use of the notebook and also some suggestions for encouraging student writers (and their teachers) to fully utilize this writing resource. I hope my words and my personal journey help you in yours.

BOOK WEEK 2021 -Reading Poetry To Young Readers & Writers

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  Book Week 2021 I had so much fun this morning with on line reading of poems- older poems from my books and some freshly minted poems from my recent notebook gatherings. I shared them with two groups of impressionable 5-7 year old  readers & writers from Rowville PS. We explored poetry's vast terrain to show all the worlds in which ideas for writing await us... Not surprisingly,  I enjoyed presenting and sharing. I hope my enthusiastic reading and sharing delivers some writing energy and confidence. Some little spark of an idea to set these young poets going... Finger's crossed. It was fun for me to be able to share a little of my experience and hopefully my love of poetry was apparent to these curious learners. Here are two of the poems I shared. Hope you like them too. Feel free to share them with other curious learners and probationary poets.

Fostering Wonder & Curiosity in the Writing Classroom

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I have made a point of giving each of my grandchildren a magnifying glass at an early age. I want them to have the opportunity to discover and celebrate natural wonder. I recall how much fun I had as a small boy with my own magnifying glass. –Seeing snails and slugs up close, watching ants and noticing their fine feelers, or exploring nature’s wonders in the fine lines and patterns on leaves and the trunks of trees. Worms, butterflies, slaters all warranted closer inspection. I became a curious learner. I had a fascination for observing the world through this magic portal; this round window.  It is important to foster the natural curiosity every child possesses and this can be further stimulated by the experience of seeing small wonders up close and personal. I have always held the view that the simple gift of a magnifying glass can further stimulate imagination and creativity.  I retain one in the drawer in my study... A magnifying glass is not a piece of cutting edge techno wizardry,

Launching Writing Projects From The Notebook

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  One of the challenges facing writing teachers is how best to support student writers to move the writing focus beyond their writer’s notebook towards more intensive and sustained writing projects. We want the young writer to lift their gaze beyond the edges of the notebook and strike out in new areas with their writing.  The writer’s notebook is a tool for writing. It is not intended for the entries to become ensnared; trapped in a word prison. The notebook contains many beginnings and not all of them are destined to be launched beyond the notebook pages, but their presence affords the writer options.  The skill lies in identifying and lifting out that piece, or pieces, the writer feels have the most potential for developing into something beyond the notebook page. It will be a piece they can imagine themselves working on for a longer time. Engaging writers in conversations that encourages a desire to delve back into notebook entries, engage in some considered re-reading and consider

The Explicit Nature of Current Writing Instruction

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I am noting with concern, increasing attention from Science of Reading advocates towards the teaching of writing in Australian schools. My concern arises from the mischaracterization of current writing approaches, as evidenced by comments similar to the following: 'It’s great to see the growing emphasis on and discussion of teaching writing. This is another casualty of Whole Language’s scorched earth approach to explicit teaching of how spoken and written language work. Teachers did not learn this in their whole language school days and now can’t teach it .'   Apart from the absolutism of the comment, the words totally misrepresent the current reality within writing classrooms. Across the last 20 years of working regularly   with Australian and U.S.  schools, teachers and the young writers in their care, explicit, targeted teaching has been an integral element of the work undertaken. It is by far the dominant scenario I witness when visiting classrooms. When talking about instr

Research For Writing- A Wide Range of Options Lie Out There

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     How do we as teacher/writers stretch our thinking, our awareness? How do we acquire the essential knowledge, experience and confidence to write alongside our students? The answer lies in research. And when we begin to examine the notion of research we begin to notice its wide ranging territory...       It is this territory, this terrain, into which we must venture - firstly as both writers and educators. When we as educators mindfully walk such learning paths, we are better able to convince less experienced writers to follow in our steps.  Let's unpack some essential research actions: Get out to the streets of your neighbourhood. Walk about and breathe in the day around you. Use your senses. Make mental notes. Jot down some of your observations.  Talk to people. Practice being an active listener. Tune into conversations. Don't be afraid to eavesdrop. It often delivers treasure.  Wherever you are, be interested. Practice being an observer. Becoming a curious observer is eve

Teaching Writing- The Value of Inviting Mentor Authors Into The Classroom

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When a teacher enters a classroom to teach a writing lesson they should draw comfort from the fact that they are not alone. They bring with them all the reading and writing they have ever done.   As teachers of writing we are surrounded by so many  authors we trust, respect and who are readily available to assist in the important task of developing young writers. They sit at our shoulder ready to assist. When allowing these authors to become our mentors, our unwitting collaborators, the sharing we do affords student writers quality opportunities to acquire the craft of writing through exposure to rich literary models.   We must willingly and mindfully, bring with us the lessons learned from our own trusted mentors. Provide examples from your own writing life demonstrating how you have incorporated such aspects of writing craft. Regularly encourage students to investigate for themselves specific aspects of the work of such mentors.  When starting out, encourage young writers to imitate

Making A Commitment To Your Own Writing

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The Gathering of Your Own Words I have been reflecting on my advice to teachers regarding the necessity to create time for writing. A question that has frequently arisen is -How does a teacher go about finding time in a busy life to become a teacher who writes? How do you do this?  I always do my best to answer the question. Essentially this is what I say when prompted: Every time I pick up a pen to write, the rest of my world defaults to standby. Every thing else comes to a halt. Only the writing matters. Mel Levine in his book, The Myth of Laziness describes writing as ‘exquisite synchronization.’  At this point my mind is pried open and thoughts begin to flow. I am connected only to the page. The challenge of the blank page takes over and must be attended to, immediately. The first words to spill onto the pages of a notebook are often raw and untamed. It doesn’t all glitter.  As writers, we just want to trap those thoughts and ideas before they evade us. To do this we must carve out

Shining A Light On Writing Processes

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  Shining A Light On Writing Processes I have long tried to practice and advocate for the highlighting of process when teachers share examples of their own writing. To be a teacher who writes is a critical first step in helping young writers see that you value something you are asking them to wholeheartedly embrace. However, a further   mindful step is required in order to maximize the writing the teacher brings to the classroom. There is more that can be done than simply reading our writer’s notebook entries… When it comes to sharing a piece of writing with young writers, the story surrounding it, the process undertaken, becomes a vital part of the share time. As teachers, we must be prepared to invest time shining a strong light on the processes that brought the words to the page. There is real value to be gained explaining the procedures followed, the craft moves employed, the discoveries the process revealed, as well as the lessons learnt along the way. Unpacking these aspe