Showing posts from February, 2019

What Do Teachers Mean By 'Independent Writing?'

It always concerns me when student writers approach the task of writing, lacking any sense of freedom to explore and manipulate ideas. They commonly experience emotional blocks when it comes to making decisions. A distinct lack of confidence is evident. They ask questions of their teachers such as: How much should I write? Should I use paragraphs? What should I write about? Is it okay to write about...? The term 'independent writing' is an accepted phase within the writing workshop, but a closer examination reveals the writing taking place at this point is all too frequently, independent in name only. All too often young writers can be observed working on an assigned writing task and the questions they ask indicate they are a long way short of being independent and self directed. This scenario suggests  the whole notion of independent writing may require a significant rethink in such classrooms. -And yet, in other classrooms I gain a sense that the writers are

Growing As Writers -Students AND Teachers Alike

Sometimes it is not just the students who are inexperienced writers. Even teachers who accept that they must endeavour to provide a model of a writer for their students, may present as someone who has not written all that extensively in the past. Like their students, a teacher may be inexperienced in the ways of writing, having little or no prior knowledge of writer's notebook or how to maintain them as a writing resource.  'What exactly do I write about?' they sometimes ask, before expressing concerns as to where they might begin.  Well, we learn best when we initiate our own learning. If we set about some professional reading, it serves to re-assures us as learners while building our knowledge base. We are essentially reading what we are trying to write. The books displayed(below)would make an excellent starting point in attaining a deeper understanding of writing, -plus the notebook as a writing tool.  All the things we want student writers to be: read

Teaching Young Writers The Value of Rereading Their Writing

I revisited an old writing friend recently. I once again picked up Nancie Atwell’s ‘ Lessons That Change Writers’ and began rereading. I like to revisit authors I trust. Atwell’s messages about writing are laden with timeless value. I possess a number of books I regularly revisit and reread. Pearls of wisdom frequently reveal themselves to me when I do this. 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 great many of our student writers are not consciously skilled where the act of rereading is concerned. For this reason, its value needs to be drawn to their attention. We need to demonstrate how, and why, rereading is an important skill. A skill to consciously add to their writing armoury. They need to see it explicitly modelled. They need to see it valued by a proficient writer. That way it is more likely to be adopted. A lack of consistent and conscious rereading is fr

The Enduring Question for Writers -Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

It's an enduring question for young writers - where do you get your ideas? they ask.  Often believing there is something mystical to this aspect of the writing process. It's a secret they want you to share... The truth is, ideas are everywhere.  Always an interesting conversation to have with young writers where they are challenged to consider where ideas are to be found. They quickly realize the broad horizons of choice that actually exist. It challenges their somewhat narrow concept of 'ideas.'  The challenge is to grow them as explorers of the world. The aim is to assist them develop a broader view of the extensive possibilities at their disposal. We are working to eradicate that tired  old catch-cry- I can’t think of anything to write about...’  It requires teachers to share the broad influences on their own writing. It is important to dispel the myth that writing only equates to stories. What are the territories you explore to excavate ideas?  Ideas