Showing posts from April, 2021

A Visible Reading and Writing Life Delivers Teachers Power and Influence

  In this collection of stories, writers talk about the authors they revered as children; the stories and poems that  shaped their own work. A teacher I was working with as a literacy consultant, once boldly announced, ‘ I don’t want my students to know anything about my life. I am just here to teach.’  The comment disturbed me on a number of levels. It represented no sense of the need to bond with students. I had the impression the teacher was simply a forlorn imitation of a living, breathing teacher. When we make the effort to bond with students, we consciously humanize ourselves. We connect with our students more effectively when we provide insights as to how we operate as lifelong learners. In order to do this, we need to give something of ourselves and that requires an emotional commitment, not just the rolling out of curriculum. It continues to surprise me how many of my colleagues conduct secret reading and writing lives. Literate lives hidden from their students and disconnecte

Wordplay Fun in My Writer's Notebook

I regularly indulge in a bit of wordplay in my  Writer's Notebook... I believe it is vitally important our interactions with words retain a genuine sense of playfulness. We must encourage this same playfulness among the young writers we trying to grow . There is no better way than through our own wordplay efforts. Show your impressionable students that you know how to be both joyful and creative around language. Fellow writer and educator, the renowned, Ralph Fletcher in his book, Pyrotechnics On The Page had this to say regarding wordplay- 'Skilled writers often deliberately play with language along the way. such play is not subordinate to meaning. In fact this language play is often what the writing is about.' Here are a few examples from various notebooks. Joining words and endings to create sentences Comedian and logophile Rich Hall alerted me to Sniglets Lists of possible inclusions for a poem about strange dining delights Collage poetry challenges you to create mean

Teaching Kids To Write: Some Beliefs

Teaching Kids To Write: Some Beliefs Across more than 50 years as an educator and writer, I have been fortunate to gather much invaluable experience regarding the growth and development of curious, confident writers. May I be so bold as to share a few of my considered thoughts regarding these matters in this post... These things I hold to be true: • Writers need to know their stories. They might have to tell them many times or engage in a lot of thinking before they arrive at the writing. Pre-writing, and rehearsal are therefore critical to improved writing outcomes. •The teaching of writing needs to be seen through a child’s eyes. Are students writing about their view of the world? Can we help them to talk and write richly about their lives and those things that matter? •Writing children do should let us know what it is like to see the world through their eyes and their perspective. •We won’t get honest writing and true voice from writers who are denied CHOICE in both topic and genre.

Investing in Meaningful Student Writing Engagement

The late, great Donald Graves reminded us in his 1983 book, Writing: Teachers & Children at Work' -  'Good teachers show what they mean instead of telling.' Katie Wood Ray in her 1999 book 'Wondrous Words' urged teachers to model writing work habits so students would come to see themselves as authentic writers. She further pointed out-  'Either we can be walking breathing, talking examples of all we advocate for our students, or we can have them sitting around wondering why are trying to get them into something that we are obviously not into ourselves.' These notions challenge the traditional and often dominant paradigm in many schools that writing is to prove to others what has been learned. In reality writing needs to be about discovery leading to reflection of learning. Writing is the  physical representation of all the thinking acquired. It arises from being deeply immersed in the processes of writing. When young writers are mindfully encouraged to t