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Showing posts from July, 2012

Assisting Young Writers To Develop A Sense Of SETTING

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Recently I have been working with young writers who are developing narratives. We have been focusing on helping our reading audience to visualize where the story takes place- the setting.
For many student writers setting is often receives a cursory mention and glossed over. The rush to get to the action means the all important sense of place receives little attention.  And yet, a sense of place is strongly linked to our hearts and minds. It makes sense to tap into this rich vein as writers.In my classroom work I have undertaken some awareness training around setting by investigating how other authors develop this aspect of their writing and how it assists the reader. I want young writers to understand the potential of settings to enhance the quality of their writing.


Ralph Fletcher in his book,What A Writer Needswrites about setting in this way, ‘The setting or place, creates the world in which the characters live and struggle. In this world, the plot unfolds. Something will happen.’  A…

Pre Writing -Removing The Cold Starts

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I find it increasingly re-assuring to witness teaching practice in the writing workshop that recognizes the importance of the pre-writing phase of the process. I see fewer and fewer cold starts where the topic is presented to a class of students and they are immediately instructed to begin writing.

This cold start writing was a common practice during my primary school days, -just after the dinosaurs were cleared from the playground. Sadly, it has not been totally extinguished from the pedagogical practices in some schools. I remain hopeful of its eventual extinction. Assisting students to' get ready to write' lays the foundation for producing an improved writing product.

Pre-writing involves that critical time when thoughts are transformed into meaning and begin to be integrated into the writer’s action plan. It is the gestation period for writing ideas. James Britten says, ‘It is during pre-writing that the past experiences of the writer serve to colour facts according to the w…

Slice Of Life Story -Fun In The Forest

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In the sixties, Crispian St Peters sang, ‘When I woke up this morning, you were on my mind.’ Well, when I woke up this morning a drive to the place of my childhood was on my mind. Despite the inclement weather, I set forth with too eager young children to drive about an hour up into the hills to seek out the birds of the forest.
SherbrookeForest is a temperate rain forest situated 48 kms (30 miles) east of the city of Melbourne. Apart from the old growth forest and its magnificent trees and ferns, the forest is also home to the magnificent lyrebird and a host of other flora and fauna. This is the locale of my childhood. The famous Dandenong Ranges.
We stopped on the way to buy some parrot seed. Later we drove past my childhood home and school. I pointed out places where I went fishing as a boy, and the picnic grounds beside the Sassafras Creek where we enjoyed family outings. The children played the game and asked polite questions. I pointed out the sporting fields where I spent hours k…

Dabbling With 25 Word Stories

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I vividly recall those competitions where you could win a prize if you sang the praises of a particular product in 25 words or less. As a teenager, I occasionally submitted, but no prizes ever eventuated.My twenty five words apparently missed the mark. None the less, it was the challenge that drove my efforts.
Maybe this is why I love the 25 word story and its inherent challenge. It was through fellow blogger, Kevin Hodgson that I became aware of this new writing opportunity. It came to light through my involvement with Twitter.

The 25 word story asks the writer to construct a story using Twitter as the platform. The limit of 25 words is the first challenge. The next challenge is stay to within Twitter’s 140 character limit at the same time. Within the 140 characters you need to allow for the hash tag, #25wordstory.
Once I began composing these short, short stories, it became an addictive force. I find myself rehearsing just as I do with other writing outlets. It requires a deal of rev…

Slice of Life Tuesday -Reflecting On A Writing Life

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It is mid year vacation time for schools in Australia, and the next two weeks are a chance to refresh, and reinvigorate mind and body for students and teachers alike. First semester is so packed with activity and expectation for schools. It is catch your breath time. When we at last stick our heads up, we notice the grip of winter. The challenge is raise up against the gloom of grey skies, and embrace (or confront) the days we have been given. Today, I walked early and following breakfast and a good read of the newspaper gave some time to capturing a slice of life…
I find myself in my study in this first week pondering my writing life. Questions frequently arise when visiting schools concerning where ideas come from, the mystery of routines and rituals and what sparks one’s passion for writing. Teachers and students are keen to engage in these types of conversations. Curiosity is abundant in such situations and often causes me to reflect on my personal journey.
Today, I am exploring thi…