Bold Teaching And Powerful Writing Go Together

Writing Territories
Nancie Atwell taught me that the range of things we do as writers define our writing territories. They include genres in which we write, or would like to write, or would like to try, subjects we have written about or would like to, and real or potential audiences for our writing. Our writing territories should be packed full of ideas, obsessions, experiences, itches, aversions, and feelings. The writing about these territorial issues may take many forms –poems, memoirs, novels, reviews, literary criticisms, essays, articles, letters, speeches, lists.

My Personal Territories inlcude:
Music and Memory
Travel adventures
Childhood adventures
My parents
Being an educator
Misadventures, mistakes and places beginning with “M”
Family matters/history
Learning about myself
Collecting –books, music, photography
Simple pleasures, tranquil places

The writing that my territories generate is therefore directed to many different readers: family, friends,self, parents, teachers, the wider community, elected officials. We write to be read. So, from the outset we need to be aware of our audience. This is an essential message for all young writers to hear from those charged with teaching them how to write effectively.

From Territories to Topics
Our writing territories are different to writing topics. Territories are broad and general. Topics are specific writing ideas that grow from within our writing territories.

Listing Ideas and Topics
As a teacher of writing I need to model the way I harvest writing ideas. I need to provide opportunities for my students to harvest their ideas on a regular basis.

Making lists helps. It makes you start noticing things. Writing emerges from the relationship with your life and its range of experiences. The chalenge of the blank page becomes manageable. The notion of a list cuts resistance and enables ideas to be recorded quickly. Developing writers need opportunities to share their lists; their drawings.Regular opportunities to indulge in brainstorming are essential. how do we expect young writers to 'think quickly' if we don't provide oportunities to practice 'brainstorming?' As a teacher of writing, you are not trying to control the writing, you are just recording ideas.
“A writer with a pen and a sheet of paper but with no ideas is like a king with a crown and a throne but no kingdom. They can’t do a thing.”
Bessie Rawitsch

I appreciate Regie Routman's important message, “Teachers need to demonstrate that they are joyfully literate.” …We need to rant, rave and ruminate!

I use a variety of lists to support the formation of writing ideas:

Once in my Lifetime…
I have seen fireflies in Brooklyn
Visited Venice
Set an emu on fire –accidentally
Slept on Mt Feathertop
Walked on the Giant’s Causeway
Had a haircut in Mooloolaba
Milked a cow by hand
Wandered through the ruins of Pompei
Played kiss chasey

Memories and Moments
• Shovelling snow for the first time
• Nana’s galah
• Being left handed
• Being paid in raison bread
• The great cucumber war
• Picking strawberries for Mr Arrow
• My sister and the Golden books
• Snakes at the end of my bed
• Camping At Yellingbo
• Singing Lessons with Mrs Rich

Childhood Games
• Marbles
• Hopscotch
• British Bulldog
• Giant’s Treasure
• Releaso
• Kick Ball
• Monopoly
• Rounders
• Solitaire
• Four Square
• Brandy

Some Things to Do On the Subway
• Read a Book
• Listen to Music
• Stare at reflections in the carriage windows
• Read the advertising signs
• Play spot the famous look alike
• Snooze
• Imagine you are somewhere else
• Listen to conversations
• Wonder where everyone is going

Writing About “Writing Memories”
Janelle Halbert and the pen
John finally shared his writing
Writers Block –Saved by a six year old!
Distancing yourself from the writing –the 12
month poem
Miss Dungan’s approach to writing
What is your oxygen- mine’s poetry!

A List of Harvested Words…

Essentially Australian Words…
• Ratbag
• Dodgy,
• Blimey
• Hoo-roo
• Crikey
• Prang
• Moo juice

Harvesting Character Names
Casper Van Doren
Tillis Palmer
Maude Lincoln
Angel Fury
Clifford Cluff
Delroy Hollins
Martin Fluendi
Venetia Valentine
Foley Sims

Overcoming Time Issues
Because childhood and timelessness are synonymous young writers don’t usually keep track of time in their writing. We can assist them through a deeper exploration of writing samples that grapple with time issues.

Magnify the writing focus
Writing becomes more powerful when it becomes specific. Small details assist us to evoke big issues. The bigger the issue the smaller we need to write. By starting with the smallest possible part of a big issue we can create energy for our writing.

Writing Small
Don’t write about poverty, write about the child who crams chicken nuggets into his pocket on Friday when visiting the school cafeteria because the weekend holds uncertainty as far as food availability is concerned. We need to be specific!

How much do I write?

A student asked the teacher, “How long does my piece of writing need to be?” The teacher replied, “As long as a woman’s skirt”
“What does that mean?”
“Well,” said the teacher, “It needs to be short enough to
maintain attention and long enough to cover what needs to
be covered!”

A Writer’s Suffering….
Today I finished my writing
But I may not write again
For now that the words are in order
I’ve run out of ink in my p


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