Giving Student Writers A Great Start in 2017

Making A Great Start To Writing in 2017

The new school year is on the horizon in Australia.
I have prepared some thoughts to assist teachers to launch writing in their classrooms in the early days of the new school year. Hope you find the attached thought helpful in presenting your writing program in 2017.

My sincere hope for this year, is for student writers to encounter teachers who are focused on how to write, rather than what to write. In order for this to occur, teachers of writing must be prepared to commit to being writers too. Writing alongside your students will send them a vital message regarding the importance of being someone who chooses to write. it will immeidately elevate writing in the minds of impressionable, curious learners. I urge you to be bold and brave. Become the risk taker you want your students to be.

 I can say this with full confidence; every teacher possesses the potential to be the most influential writing mentor students will encounter in any school year. 

You don’t have to be a published writer to successfully mentor young writers, but you most certainly need to be a teacher who writes. You must be someone who makes time to write. Someone who keeps a writer’s notebook. You must be someone who understands the challenges and the joys of writing.

Attitude is everything. If you present as a brave and fearless writer, chances are your students will replicate your courageous stance. You will be joining them on a learning journey. You will be doing what they are doing. Your credibility will skyrocket. So will student engagement. Levels of teaching satisfaction will be greatly enhanced.

When you make a decision to share your writing life, you are helping to build a sense of community and risk taking, and risk taking is essential for creating a classroom where writing is seen to flourish.

On day one of the new school year you can set the ball rolling by sharing your notebook. Talk about what it feels like to be able to collect ideas in this special book. Let them know where you found your ideas. Share insights regarding your particular writing territories and influences. Leave them in no doubt about your writing intentions.

Read some entries and invite questions and responses.

Assure students they will be given the opportunity to create their own writer’s notebook. 

Choice actually begins here. Each writer should be afforded the opportunity to choose a notebook that best suits their individual needs as a writer.  

Every notebook will be different because every notebook should reflect the individual writer’s focus and style. 

Students should be encouraged to develop a vision regarding the kinds of things fellow writers might see them working on in the notebook.

Have them talk in small groups about the possibilities for their writing.

Once every student has a notebook of their choosing you can invite them to further personalize the books. Encourage them to decorate the covers in ways that reflect their interests and passions. 

Suggest they begin by gathering the materials- words, pictures, drawings, photographs, tickets, cards they need to create a unique cover design. 

They might gather these materials at home and bring them to school in order to complete the task of placing shaping, cutting, gluing and covering their notebook covers- front and back. This task is a further statement of individuality and intent.The first entry is most important.It sets a tone and establishes expectations for the notebook writing.


  1. Thanks for posting, Alan. This year I intend to give my students the option of finding their own book to write in. While some aren't phased, I know lots of kids are uninspired and underwhelmed when presented with the same old boring lined book (that they have another five of) and told that "This is your writers notebook". Im intrigued to see what sizes, shapes and forms will present when they are given the choice, and eager to see whether the drive to use it often increases.

  2. Hi Emily,
    Bravo you for providing your young writers with this important first choice. It promotes the essential sense of ownership. From experience, I have found such actions inevitably lead to a greater sense of engagement. So, thank oyu for sharing this exciting development. wishing you and your student writers a most successful year in writing.


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