Showing posts from April, 2011

New Technologies and the Challenge for Teachers of Literacy

Saw this article on line and throught it was worth sharing. It challenges some misconcpetions about the volume of reading and writing students in which students are actually engaged. The challenge seems to be how we do maximize this literary interaction?

'Today's teens have grown up zooming among hyperlinks in cyberspace and conversing in an online world of Twitter and text messaging where acronyms, assorted shortcuts and creative punctuation have redefined everyday discourse.
Experts figure that kids today read and write even more than previous generations. And they do so in a broader and more complex environment — though not always in academic ways.
The fire hose of online content, plus evolving media platforms, present new challenges for students — and teachers rushing to keep up with technology — as 21st-century literacies blend with traditional skills.
"I'm not going to say it's a good thing or a bad thing," says Elizabeth Kleinfeld, assistant professor of …

Teaching the Developing Writer the Benefits of Rereading

This week I have had more time for reading (term holidays) and so I revisited an old writing friend. I picked up Nancie Atwell’s ‘Lessons That Change Writers’ and began rereading. I like to go back to authors I trust. Atwell’s messages about writing are laden with timeless value.

Nancie writes, ‘Writing is as much an act of reading over what we have written as it is drafting new writing.’
These words set me to thinking. A lot of student writers are not consciously skilled where the act of rereading is concerned. For this reason it needs to be drawn to their attention. We need to show them how and why rereading is an important skill to add to their writing armoury. They need to see it explicitly modelled and valued by a proficient writer. This way it is more likely to be adopted.
A lack of consistent and conscious rereading is frequently the thing preventing the writing young writers produce rising above the ordinary. Learning the habit of rereading and applying it in a conscious way cou…

'The Write Stuff' Teacher Magazine April 2011 Edition

The latest edition of  ACER's Teacher Magazine (April Edition) contains an article titled 'The Write Stuff' in which I have tried to outline the essential ingredients for an effective classroom writing program.

'In any successful writing program, certain principles are at the heart of the teaching, and the impact of these principles is clearly visible in the day to day operation of that particular classroom. In such places one senses a special energy –a genuine spark!
A partnership exists. -A unique partnership where students and teachers share the common goal of becoming expert writers. Each participant assumes an increasing authority for personal writing outcomes. The gradual release of responsibility is at play in the teaching. Should we venture through the doorway and spend time in these learning environments, the following factors become self evident:'

For the full article go to :

Slice of Life Tuesday -When I Rode The Bus

This morning I watched a bus go by and stop nearby as I walked Mornington’s main street. Schools are on a term break and I have time to amble. I like the notion of ambling. Remember, not all who wander are necessarily lost. I fixed my gaze on the bus for a brief moment.  I realized I have not travelled on a bus since returning from New York in 2007. I must be honest, I don’t miss the experience. 

 The longer I stayed in New York, the more my travel innocence eroded. I experienced things in New York, I had only ever read about. The comfort of my existence in a quiet, coastal town in far away Australia proved to be the antithesis of the life I came to know during my time in New York. I moved through a life wrapped in exciting, strange, challenging, scary-weird and wonderful moments, -often within the same hour.

When I first came to live in Brooklyn, Friday mornings found me catching the No 69 bus out of Park Slope, knowing I was sure of getting a seat on the not yet crowded bus. It provi…

Slice of Life Tuesday Special Visitors

Todaysome special visitors came to my home. They quite literally flew in. I was sitting on the deck sharing a cup of tea in the faint autumn sunlight with my sife and a friend when I noticed some unexpected visitors hovering near the buddleias beside the creek.
At first I wasn’t sure if I was seeing things. Such visits are uncommon. However they are renowned for being able to travel significant distances and I have waited many years for them to visit. So the hope in my heart began to dance with anticipation.
I stood to gain a closer look. I approached them tentatively, not wishing to disturb them and still unsure that what my eyes were fixed upon matched the thoughts in my head. Were these magnificent butterflies that flittered around me actually the legendary Monarch butterflies also known as Wanderers?  Diving and swooping continually around the buddleias and along the creek their movement held me mezmerized. Finally,they flew up high and disappeared into the branches of a Weeping Wi…

The Sometimes Secret Reading and Writing Lives of Teachers

A teacher once told me, ‘I don’t want my students to know anything about my life. I am just here to teach.’ The comment disturbed me on a number of levels. It showed no sense of the need to bond with students. I had the impression the teacher was merely a cardboard cut out of a living, breathing teacher. When we make the effort to bond with students we humanize ourselves. We connect with our students more effectively when we provide insights as to how we operate as lifelong learners. In order to do this, we need to give something of ourselves and that requires an emotional commitment, not just curriculum support.
It amazes me how many of my colleagues live secret reading and writing lives. Lives they keep hidden from their students. They may be voracious readers, but see no need to connect this rich reading life to their classroom practice. Others may keep diaries and journals about their travels and broader lives. Others write poetry. Yet all this rich literate activity is kept separa…

Reflections On The Slice of Life Story Challenge March 2011

Once again I am pleased that I was able to last the distance, to meet the challenge of writing and posting a writing slice every day for the month of March. I became even more aware of those internal machinations of my sometimes scrambled mind, as I pondered my daily posting. The rehearsal was continual. It was stimulating. Words and phrases tumbled around in my brain and I played with ideas until at last I settled on my daily script. Then I sat at the computer and the words spilled onto the screen.
Being involved in SOLSC teaches you to be disciplined as a writer and raises your awareness of small moments in a day and their potential as a focus for writing. It heightens the writer’s awareness of the near world.
Through my participation, I have met new writers and given and received feedback. My horizons have been extended as I have read about the lives of others in areas far removed from mine.As much as we are different, we share a sense of community and fellowship. Happy, sad, weird…