Writer's Notebooks - A Broader View For Developing Writers

Stories continue to reach my ears of schools where Writer's Notebooks are being presented to student writers in rather limited ways. Ways that serve to severely limit the notebook’s potential to influence and inform the developing writer. 

The notebook is capable of being much more than a depository for 'seed' ideas, lists of potential topics and an endless succession of Y charts, invoked every time a potential topic or idea is raised. 

When I see student notebooks limited to these types of entries, it suggests a somewhat narrow interpretation of what a writer’s notebook is expected to provide. They appear undernourished and underdeveloped. They are a pale imitation of what might be. They lack versatility and vitality.  
Student notebooks belong to the student writers. We want young writers to develop a clear sense of ownership, responsibility and pride in them. To be putting our energy into claiming control of their notebooks will never achieve such lofty goals. What I am su…

Teachers, Invest In Your Own Writer's Notebook For 2020

At the conclusion of each school year, I write, urging teachers to quarantine a little time for writing over the summer holiday period. As we rapidly approach the end of the 2019 school year in Australia, my message remains unerringly simple. 

If you are a teacher who writes, it is easier to present as a writer who teaches. 
     A Writer's Notebook holds the potential to become a valuable teaching resource, as well as a writing tool, if we approach writing, willingly. We must be the risk takers we want our students to become.

To become a teacher who writes requires  commitment and a willingness to quarantine some of your time to engage in writing. We become writers through regular practice. It doesn't happen through hopes and wishes. 

If the decision is to go down  the path of maintaining your own notebook, that notebook will benefit from some early feeding and the summer presents as a potential feast…

Imagine how much credibility you will attract upon entering your classroom earl…

Obtaining Another Just Right Book -Your Writer's Notebooks For 2020

As the Australian school year draws to a close, we reach a time where attention is given to student resources and supplies for the next academic year. 

So, I find myself thinking about how schools might best go about supplying students with writer’s notebooks for 2020. 

Handing out a one size fits all notebook relegates this special writing tool to little more than workbook status in the eyes of young writers. If kids come to view the writer's notebook in this way, it loses integrity. It loses its individuality. It can come to viewed as a 'teacher thing.' The ownership has been eroded significantly.

Such an outcome remains totally avoidable, but it does however require some pre planning on the part of those managing the acquisition of school resources. 

An increasing number of schools are asking suppliers to provide a range of writer's notebook prior to the end of the school year. Student writers are then asked to peruse the selection on offer and choose the notebook that …

Increasing Engagement For Adolescent Writers

I recall a quote in newspaper a few years back regarding the teaching of writing. Professor Peter Knapp was quoted thus;
‘Kids come out of primary school without mastering the technical aspects of writing and yet secondary schools aren't equipped to teach writing or, in many cases, prepared to teach it.’Let's unpack that statement a little...

There appears to be a persisting belief that Primary Schools are expected to teach students to read and write, and Secondary Schools can then focus on reading and writing to learn. This falsehood has persisted since my teacher training days –many decades ago!

It demonstrably fails to recognize the developmental nature of learning, and it certainly shows a disregard for students as learners.

We learn at different rates. We don’t all learn to tie our shoelaces on a predetermined day. Why would we assume that all learners reach the same developmental point at the conclusion of Grade 6- and why would we discontinue teaching them at their point of…

Teaching Writing Craft Mindfully

Teaching the craft of writing requires teachers to be explicit in their work with students. Explicit and mindful teaching occurs when teachers are clear about what it is they want children to learn and when  a meaningful, focused program of instruction is provided. 

This means conference notes and conversations, as well as writing samples are integral to the process of knowing what to teach. The instruction provided by the teacher benefits from being informed by such insight. Learning to look below the surface features and errors in the writing piece creates an opportunity to see the potential hidden beneath. Possibilities beyond grammar, punctuation and sentence structure emerge.

When consideration is given to focused learning, student writers receive opportunities to make sense of the learning by creating purposeful connections between lesson purposes, tasks, texts, and lesson reflections. If these aspects of our lesson align, we increase our chances of effecting improved learning out…

A New Anthology of Poems For Young Poetry Lovers

My new poetry book  'What The Poemster Found' an anthology of verse for young poetry lovers is now officially available for ordering through Amazon:
Follow the link to order:…

'You are the jingle in my bells  The tick in my tock  The flash in my light  The spring in my time  The whirl in my wind  The tell in my tale  You are the ever in my lasting  The ginger in my bread  The life in my boat  It has to be said.'
Alan j Wright

'While living in New York City, Alan Wright often visited a busy café serving a rich and hearty winter soup that warmed him on cold winter days. In his third anthology of poetry Wright compares the flavours of that delicious soup to the blending of a variety of poetic styles and subjects to create a pleasurable collection of poems to suit the tastes all ages. Wright's poems capture real-life experiences while exploring past events and numerous small moments.
Among the poems gathered in this new anthol…