Showing posts from September, 2009

Slice of Life Story -Delve Into Twelve

What is it about the number 12 that so many people have difficulty with? Twelve is a most intriguing number. Most calendar systems have twelve months in a year. The Western zodiac has twelve signs, as does the Chinese zodiac. There are twenty-four hours in a day in all, with twelve hours for a half a day. A new day starts with the stroke of midnight. Furthermore, the basic units of time (60 seconds, 60 minutes, 24 hours) can all perfectly divide by twelve. Twelve squared is 144, also known as a gross. Twelve is a great number!

The concept of a dozen however seems to elude many of my fellow citizens it seems. Today I was standing in the supermarket line patiently awaiting my turn at the checkout, and it became obvious that the customers in front of me had so blatantly exceeded the ’12 items or less’ message despite the fact that it is so clearly displayed for all to read.

Not a big deal? Well the first few times it happened I let it roll by. Then I started silently counting just to conf…

Writing Magic - Switching Genres!

The final term of the school year provides an excellent opportunity for students to revisit a genre explored earlier. They could rework a piece of writing published earlier in the year or rework a writing piece in a different genre than was originally attempted. I.e. non- fiction piece could be transformed into a realistic fiction piece, a poem, a play, a fiction piece. The possibilities are many. Such a study provides students with an opportunity to develop the understanding that one writing idea can be represented in different forms. It also allows students to progress further in their understanding of how writing is a fluid form of communication.

To begin, ask students to consider questions such as:
• What genre are you most comfortable writing?
• Which of your previously published writing pieces would you like to revisit?
• What does changing the genre of a piece allow you, the author, to do?

We can provide student writers with an opportunity to demonstrate through writing, a working k…

Memoir Monday -The Great Potato Heist

When a boy is only nine years old, he can do strange things. This was a time when a field of potatoes caused me loads of trouble…

My friend Robert and I decided to take our billy-cart with us as we set off to explore the local neighbourhood. We were hoping to find a half decent hill to descend. The billy cart had been the product of the previous weekend’s efforts. A construction strung together using a mixture of scrounged odds and ends. A lettuce box atop a wooden frame, a set of disused pram wheels and a piece of rope nailed to the front for steering purposes, made up this rickety downhill racer. The only modification to the lettuce box was to knock the front panel out so that the driver could extend their legs forward to help steer the cart on its wild descent. No brakes, and the lettuce box carriage was so rough it guaranteed to give you splinters almost every time some part of body made contact.

We pushed past went Les Blake's house, but he…

What We Can Learn From Studying Writing

I have recently purchased Katie Wood Ray’s Study Driven –A Framework for Planning Units of Study in the Writing Workshop. I have long been a fan of Katie’s writing messages. Several of her books stand proudly on my library shelves. In Study Driven, Ray spells out some strong messages about how writing needs to be approached. To quote the author,

“Framing instruction as study represents an essential stance to teaching and learning, an enquiry stance, characterized by repositioning curriculum as the outcome of instruction rather than the starting point…”

Katie Wood Ray contends:

Texts should be used to mentor students to write real things in the ways real writers write. This makes teaching ‘authentic’
Writing needs to be 'studied' and not 'taught.' This requires teachers to read like writers – along held belief of the author.
Teachers need to be writers and gatherers of mentor texts, but curriculum can not be determined before the students begin to study. It requires a flexi…

Bring The Writing Centre to Life!

Setting up a writing centre in the classroom is a great idea. However, its a great idea that needs regular commitment and maintenance if its potential is to be realized. Writing centres often become museum pieces if young writers aren’t encouraged to use the allotted space. You know the scene – it looks great, it looks glitzy, but rarely do you see students actually occupying the space. What a waste of a great space! It’s a bit like Nana’s special dining set –constantly admired, rarely used. It may as well be covered in plastic to protect it from stains.

A writing centre set up with the requisite supports, such as computer, printer, camera, an assortment of pens, markers, papers, book making materials, writing reminders and ideas, photographs, books on writing, etc provides great stimulus to developing writers. To give this space added appeal young writers need to be shuffled through this special classroom space each day. You could either set up a sign in sheet, or a schedule, so that …