Showing posts from February, 2018

A Dash of Inspiration For Young Writers

Student writers will never be motivated to write if they are simply told to write more. Imploring them to be passionate as writers, or insisting they add more detail to their pieces. Merely hanging charts on the classroom walls and hoping kids notice them, wont do it either. It is difficult to teach writing from a safe distance. 

It is critically important to be involved; to understand both the challenge and joy that writing brings. Writing is a problem solving process. Developing writers need someone who can work with them, to show them how rather than tell them what to write.

To ignite a genuine desire to write within students requires the establishment of a writing community. This community must be seen as a collaborative venture and students must be warmly invited to join. Teacher and students must join together in undertaking a learning journey that aims to develop the capacity and confidence of every writer within that community.

When trust builds among student writers and their te…

The Social Purpose of Writing

Sometimes there is a disconnect between the issues discussed in the classroom, and the writing students choose to devote their time too. Many of these issues have relevance to young writer's lives and would make suitable topics for writing, but are too often not deemed worthy of their attention. Social action writing is therefore rarely chosen.

Writers workshop works best when it is underpinned by student writers having choice of topic and form. Sometimes however the choices they make are informed by their peers, movies, games and television programs and may exhibit all the stereotypes and bias that comes with territory. Sometimes their topic choices are guided by the status it will conceivably attract. Gender stereotypes may also be entrenched in the choices they make. Sometimes their writing choices are limited by experience and a lack of confidence in moving out of a perceived comfort zone.

Researcher, Barbara Kamler, 1993 makes the point- 'Young writers do not operate freely…

Assisting Inexperienced Writers To Be World Watchers

Learning to be observant is a valuable life skill.

When one has a writer’s notebook it is such an advantage if the owner possesses keen observational abilities. The writer begins to  notice things in the world around them, more acutely. They consciously include sensory observations knowing they complement their writing efforts. The art of observation serves the writer well. A window is always available through which to capture a little magic.

To assist inexperienced student writers develop a greater awareness of the value of including such sensory observations, requires mindful action in the classroom: 

Share text examples where the writer includes sensory details. Details that enable the reader to visualize the scene. Where writers employ show, don't tell, the reader is more likely to visualize the events and actions described. The words are decidedly reader friendly.

Share examples from your own notebook where you focus on what’s around you. Consider your 5 senses. Endeavour to show…

Encouraging The Growth Of Ideas With Student Writers

Last week, upon reading a Facebook post urging teachers to foist writing prompts upon student writers, I felt compelled to write the following.

'The unquestioned imposition of ‘writing prompts’ denies student writers the opportunity to practice thinking and the identifying of suitable ideas for their writing. It discourages ownership and undersells the learner. Let's encourage thinking and invest in the curious and capable learners in our care. Such practice is akin to the intellectual laziness and low level pedagogy that imposes 'sentence starters' upon the developing writer. 'Kids can't of ideas for themselves' is the errant justification for such short sighted practices. Let's encourage kids to tell their own stories. Let's value their ideas and experiences This approach is more about telling kids 'what' to write, rather than showing them 'how' to write. As an author and an educator, I feel this idea speaks to a deficit model of th…