Showing posts from February, 2012

The Slice of Life Writing Challenge for March

I am again participating in this year’s Slice of Life Writing Challenge set up and run by two amazing educators –Two Writing Teachers, Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres. This will be the fifth year for this writing initiative. I have taken part since 2009. Participants have to create a slice of life writing piece each day for the month of March. The aim is to write and share a story about an aspect of your day, your life, your thoughts for the entire month. Each year I find myself meeting the challenge, - Difficult though it seems given time constraints of work and the time differential between Australia and America . It becomes an irresistible force for the writer within to meet the deadline each day. Should You  Choose To Accept This Challenge… I am hoping that some of you might take this opportunity to extend your own writing by taking up this challenge too. It might seem like a big commitment, but that’s why it’s a challenge . You could use an existing school blog or creat

Slice of Life Story- A Ghostly Experience

It’s a tall and elegant tree which stands on the nature strip (verge) in front of a house four doors down from mine. It appears to stand in a pool of light such is its presence. Its trunk is pale and smooth. It is a tall tree and to take in its full majesty, you have to tilt your head back. It seems somewhat reverential to take such a stance. Each morning when I walk in the crisp air, I pass this tree and I have developed a ritual. I simply cannot walk past without running my hand over its smooth bark. I pay homage to its natural beauty. Our family call it the smooth tree. But in fact it is an Australian eucalypt, or gum tree. It’s botanical name is Corymbia dallachiana but it’s commonly known as a Ghost Gum . Ghost gums, are evergreen trees and grows up to 20 metres in height with white to cream and pink-tinged bark, often with brown scales. They are a visually striking tree. It is a tree that begs to be noticed, –a tree that presents as friendly and welcoming to passers by.

Slice of Life Story -Saving Ephemera!

The ‘raw stuff’ I paste into my notebooks includes an array of what is often referred to as ephemera. That is, printed or written matter, not necessarily intended to be retained or preserved. By preserving such things in my notebook I am changing the intended destiny of these items. How’s that for power? Hold on Ephemera, I'm here to save you! When I secure these items in my notebook, it’s because I want them to last. Their preservation is important to me. I want them to act as memory aids. We writers are magpies; collectors of ephemera. The stuff we rescue may turn out to be important records of life and social customs, popular culture and national events and issues. Who knows?   It may also be viewed as treasure by the gatherer, yet insignificant to another.   These various artifacts assist me to stay in touch with actual experiences. They become markers of my life’s journeys. They stimulate my recall. Today, as I pasted new items into my notebook, they spoke to me, stimul

Teaching Young Writers About CHOICE

POST UPDATED February 2021 I have never woken up in the morning thinking, - today I’ll write a persuasive essay, or maybe an exposition!      Genre is not an initial driver for my writing. It always begins with the spark of an idea.       It surprises me how the teaching approach to student writing is so often driven by the singular pursuit of a specific genre. In too many classrooms writing is taught using genre silos to artificially segregate writing.       We witness everyone writing in an identical fashion. The same genre and alarmingly, quite often, the same topic. The teacher retains a deathly grip, remaining in total control of writing all the way to the bitter end. This approach appears to be driven by a fear that if they don't approach writing in this way, it will somehow get out of control. Learning, true learning cannot be controlled. We can only set up the condition in which it effective learning occurs.       When a student approaches and opens the conversation with -

My Teacher Has A Writer's Notebook Too!

As another school year is  about to commence here in Australia an increasing number of t eachers are taking up the challenge of maintaining their own Writer’s Notebook Those who are just beginning to develop their writing lives often request examples of the types of entries one might gather when starting out. Entries, that will serve as examples to share with their students. Entries that will show students how their teacher interacts with the world.    If you are experiencing trouble launching into your own  writing, maybe these ideas might prompt your thinking. They may spark a connection to a topic/idea you feel strongly about; -enough to get the pen moving across the page... I also hope we begin to see the whole class topic, 'My Holidays' disappear as a starting point for writing! It saddens me when this happens. It sets the bar of expectation so low for your teaching, and denies what we know about effective writing instruction. Much better that classrooms h