Showing posts from April, 2017

Narrowing The Gap Between Student Writing Intentions And Actions.

How do we assist young writers to narrow the gap between their writing intentions and their actions? This remains an on-going challenge for all of us who teach writing. Too often, the inexperienced writer signals their intention to commence a writing project yet somewhere along the writing pathway they either get distracted, overwhelmed, or just plain lost. It is claimed, the more we articulate our plans for action, the more likely we are translate intention into action. This suggests we should be encouraging the developing writer to talk about their writing ideas. They should initially internalize their thoughts regarding writing intentions- think and rehearse before being asked to share with fellow writers. To foster this kind of conversation around writing it would be prudent to set up opportunities for students to discuss their burgeoning ideas with partners, small groups, trusted peers, teachers.  The young writer could be further supported by being afford

Slice of Life Tuesday- Stepping Into the Unknown With Curious Writers

 A Step Into the Unknown During my almost six years living and working in New York, I regularly traveled on the subway system. The experiences provided a rich vein of stories and recollections. Everyday brought new insights and helped me deepen my understanding about life and learning in this iconic place. Those times continue to impact upon my thinking and my writing life. I recall among my many trips, one particular occasion at Essex Street subway interchange. I was walking up the extended stairway when a small girl and her mother appeared at the very top of the stairs. As the girl and her mother descended, I noticed the girl had her eyes tightly closed. Her mother held the the child's right hand for support as they managed the steps. At first I found myself puzzled by the girl's action. Then it occurred to me that she had closed her eyes to experience the sensation of walking down the stairs unsighted. Simple as that. She was experimenting. The fact that she ha

Moving Student Writing From the Notebook to Publishing

PUBLISHING STUDENT WRITING A young teacher approached me during a break in my presentation about Writer's Notebooks yesterday to ask, What about publishing? She was projecting ahead and it set me to thinking more deeply about this important issue. Young writers need to experience every phase of the writing process and yet it is publishing that frequently gets squeezed or curtailed. Either that, or it gets the 'fast food' treatment and every child's published work looks alarmingly the same. Publishing and the student writer are short changed. With so much emphasis on gathering entries in the Writer’s Notebook there is a further danger it will begin to establish itself as the primary focus for writing both in the minds of teachers and students.  It would therefore be easy to lose sight of the purpose of the Writer’s Notebook. The Notebook’s primary function is to provide a place for writing to  begin . The notebook is to the writer, what the sketchbook i

The Nurturing of Self Directed, Independent Writers

The Nurturing of Self Directed , Independent Writers As a classroom teacher, parent information evenings always meant the inevitable question arose, ‘What are your expectations for my son/daughter this year?’ It’s a great question to ask a teacher and I was prepared for it, having thought long and hard about how I would respond.  I always wanted my students to develop into independent, self-directed learners and I had a year to achieve my goal. With the support of parents and the co-operation of the students, it was a goal for all of us to pursue.  When attempting to foster self-directed learners, everything we do becomes important -what we do as educators; in every aspect of our teaching  Let’s consider what we do in the writing classroom. In an increasing number of classrooms teachers encourage student writers to choose their own topics and writing projects. They purposefully teach their students routines and procedures for conducting themselves independently.  Desp

Slice of Life Tuesday- Celebrating The Influence Of Mentor Texts

The Wonder of Mentor Texts When we practice the art of reading like writers, a world of possibilities opens up. Mentor texts and their particular magic begin to reveal themselves to us. We are no longer alone in our teaching of writing. We are lifted up by the writers we know and trust. They become our unwitting collaborators. How great is that? A mentor text is any piece of writing that can be used to teach a writer about some aspect of writer’s craft. A small extract may well be sufficient to qualify as a piece of mentor text. Think of those favourite books you have read many times, those books you know like a friend. Think of those books you find yourself easily quoting.  For me, the best mentor texts are those that can be used time and again throughout the year to demonstrate many different characteristics of writing. It is easy to teach aspects of writing using texts where a comfortable familiarity exists.  Some of my most trusted mentor texts are a littl

Teachers As Mentor Writers

Just Like You, I'm A Writer Do your students know you as someone who writes? Do they see you write? If you someone who writes, your students deserve to see your writing in action!  It’s something you need to share. Trust me, writing for and with your students makes a huge difference to the writing your students turn out.  When a teacher come to be viewed as a writer, the dynamic in the classroom changes. The teacher too faces the challenges that arise in writing. You become a credible mentor. You understand that writing is essentially a problem solving process. Your actions around writing validate it as something pursuing. You can share writing craft secrets with these curious learners. You have made a definitive statement. Just like you, I am writer. If your students keep a writer’s notebook, then you should have one too, Share with your students some of your entries This will enable you to confidently discuss your writing process. They will have questions for you abou