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Summer Reading For Those Who Teach Writing

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It is ever important to continue to build a knowledge base around your pedagogy. For those charged with the responsibility to teach writing it is important to seek out books deepen understanding. Books that provoke thought about the most effective ways to go about the role of being a writing teacher and a teacher who writes.

Investing in one's professional self, ensures a better outcome for student learners. After more than four decades in education I continue to feed my need to know. 

Teachers tell me how each summer they put aside time to read at least one professional book. It's a choice, but it's also a statement of intent. You only do it when you are ready to receive. The fog of the classroom has cleared and your vision for what's possible improves.

Teachers also ask, what should I be reading? So, to assist in that direction I will share with you some books I have found invaluable in recent times. Books that were both affirming and thought provoking. Books that offer…

Slice Of Life Story-The Trials Of A Left Handed Writer

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Amazingly I learnt to write using my left hand. An achievement against the prevailing beliefs of the day. My very first teacher saw it as her mission in life to ‘fix’ the poor, wretched little boy suffering from what she clearly diagnosed as left handed disease. She must have thought, 'This child must be re formatted! If he remains left handed he will be forever condemned to writing in a scrawl that no one will be able to read. Ugly hand, ugly hand.'

...They tried to say it couldn't be done, it mustn't be done. They took the pencil out of my left hand and placed it in my right hand. It felt unnatural. It felt weird. It was not right. More to the point it was not left. I was not about to conform. At least they didn't try tying my hand behind my back. Watch me I said. I may be an oddball, left handed scribbler but I am a determined oddball. I mean how boring would the world be if everyone wrote with their right hand?

So I dug my toes in –and my hands too, I guess, and …

Writer's Notebooks And Summer Promises

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At the end of each school year, I write, urging teachers to quarantine a little time for writing over the summer vacation period. This year my message remains on song. If you are a teacher who writes, it is easier to present as a writer who teaches. 

In recent weeks I have met numerous teachers who have told me they will be taking up the challenge of keeping their own writer’s notebooks. Well, that notebook will need feeding and the summer presents as a potential feast…
I am aware of the level of exhaustion that exists in schools at year’s end. The need to tie up a multitude of loose ends prior to school closing for the summer holidays is paramount. It’s a race to the finish line. The last week of school seems to take the longest time of all the many school weeks though. School becomes the epicentre of fatigue for both students and staff.
I am also aware that on summer’s horizon teachers will have free time to relax and regenerate their energy reserves.  A time for relaxation, holidays, …

Helping Student Writers Find Their Voice In Personal Narratives

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Writers must be readers –avid readers. They must also carry within them an enduring love of words and remain keenly interested in how other writers write as well as noticing what they write.

For these reasons I scour book shops for books about writing and writers. It is where I found, ‘Writing The Memoir’ by Judith Barrington. A book which aims to provide a practical guide to the challenges and dilemmas in crafting a writer's own true stories. 

In the book, the author makes the point that in order for the reader to care about what you make of your life, there has to be an engaging voice embedded in the writing –a voice that captures a personality and breathes life into the words. The author further states that memoir requires that the reader feels spoken to. A sense that a conversation is taking place becomes central to the success of the writing.

This is such pertinent advice for those of us who teach writing.  It is a reminder that voice remains a critical element of effective writ…

From Territories To Topics

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Writing Territories
Nancie Atwell taught me that the broad range of things we do as writers define our writing territories. They include genres in which we write, or would like to write.Genres and modes we would like to try. Subjects we have written about or would like to, and real or potential audiences for our writing.





 Our writing territories should be packed full of ideas, obsessions, experiences, itches, aversions, and feelings. The writing about these territorial issues may take many forms –poems, memoirs, novels, reviews, literary criticisms, essays, articles, letters, speeches, lists. Our writing territories are as vast we allow them to be.

My Personal Territories include:
Poetry
Social Issues
Literature
My Life In Education
Music and Memory
Travel adventures
Childhood adventures
My parents
Being an educator
Misadventures, mistakes and places beginning with “M”
Family matters/history
Learning about myself
Collecting –books, music, photography
Simple pleasures, tranquil places
Politics
Newspapers

All A Twitter About Reading and Writing

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The world is what you make it. So is Twitter. I am a willing participant in the world of twitter. I use it to be informed and to share information. I have shaped the feed I receive to include those voices that will grow my understanding of life and learning -well mostly. I use it as a conduit for thinking.
The reading I do informs my writing. It is a place I go to to gather a little treasure among the trite and the tasteless.

A boy once asked his father, 'What is Twitter? The father responded, 'Well you know how annoying it is when the neighbour's dog starts barking in the morning, well Twitter's like that, except it goes all day and all night.' 

Some educators I meet perceive Twitter in this way and as a result have no part of it. Others dabble occasionally. There are also many who, like me, have jumped right in.

I  see Twitter as a tool for learning, a resource for reading and learning. Opportunities exist for information sharing invaluable to my literate existence. …

Teachers, Teaching and The Writer's Notebook

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It has been pleasing in recent years to note more and more teachers embracing the idea of 'teacher as a writer.' The adoption of the writer's notebook as a resource for both students and teachers has served to increase the standing of writing within the curriculum. It has lead to greater student engagement with, and understanding of, writing.

Importantly, when a student comes to the realisation that their teacher is a writer too, the credibility of the teacher is significantly enhanced. So too is the student's perception of what it means to be someone who writes. When a teacher chooses to portray themselves as someone who chooses to write, writing is more likely to be viewed as having genuine value. Engagement is more likely with teacher buy in.

A priority in the classroom must surely be teachers making their reading and writing lives visible to impressionable students.

The first challenge for teachers who write is to make writing a  habit. I once had a teacher say to me,…