Showing posts from 2017

From Territories To Topics

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:
Social Issues
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

All A Twitter About Reading and Writing

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

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,…

Growing Writers Through Authentic Teaching Practice

When writing is taught from the perspective of  'what' to write rather than 'how' to write, the pedagogy tends to become isolated.  Discrete genres end up being taught. A set amount of time is frequently given to each particular genre and as a consequence,learning  silos are created. These specific gnre studies are often referred to as units of work. Student choice is greatly diminished and writing frequently becomes somewhat perfunctory. Under such approaches student voice is sacrificed to assuage the need for the teacher to manage the writing task. Establishing a neat and tidy writing environment overrides other considerations. Such an approach flies in direct opposition to the ideal of 'independent writing.' 

What follows are remarks such as. 'Today girls and boys we are all going to write an information text.' This approach lessens the chances of a teacher being either informed or surprised by the writers in their care. It frequently results in writi…

Teaching Kids To Vary The Pace In Their Story Writing

It is important for  every young writer to understand that not all the events within a story are treated equally. Inexperienced student writers often assign equal attention to each aspect of the written piece. This results in the following type of writing -I woke up, got dressed and had breakfast. The kitchen caught on fire and then I went to school.

From our knowledge of stories we know there are parts through which a writer moves quickly, and more important parts where the writer slows down and lingers a while. This is where the writer might intensify the action or reveal the character’s reactions in greater detail. Young writers need to know that this is a deliberate strategy on the part of the author. The author consciously zooms in. The writer uses a magnifying glass to view a part of the story more closely; to focus on a moment and to slow down time. When an important part of the story is enlarged upon, it is a signal to the reader, that this part of the story is important. Both …

Where's The Poetry Section?

Where’s The Poetry Section?
I have been wandering into bookshops in search of poetry for most of my adult life. As an educator, I acquire poetry books to better position myself to teach poetry. As a poet, I need poetry books to deepen my understanding of how poetry works. I am constantly searching for poetry’s vital spark. I am committed to this quest. Poetry is my writing oxygen.
But sadly in so many of my poetry searches I have come away empty handed and somewhat disillusioned. In the vast majority of bookshops  you will not find a designated section for children’s poetry. When poetry titles are offered, they are more than likely classic rhyming verse and frequently sitting among the general collection of picture books. 

Little wonder kids only think of poetry as something that rhymes. They develop a narrow interpretation of poetry because that is what they are being fed.  Rarely do you find contemporary content. The landscape is barren and degraded. A smattering of imported poetry boo…

Information On Proposed Phonics Test For Australian Grade 1 Students

It is vitally important that educators understand the actual evidence emerging from England regarding the Grade 1 phonics test that has been implemented there - none of which was reported by the 'expert panel' set up to advise Australia's Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham. 

Misty Adoniou, Associate Professor in Language and Literacy at the University of Canberra has posted an evidence based response on 'The Conversation,' 

The test proposed for Australian Grade 1 students follows the model of the UK test. 

Here is the link:

It is critically important as educators to be up to date with all the available information surrounding such matters. I urge my fellow educators to read Misty's article. 

Where Do My Words Begin Their Journey?

Rehearsal is critical to my writing. I embrace it. I welcome its comforting presence in my head. I know it assists me to clarify my ideas; find my direction.  Playing with words and ideas internally is such an important part of my writing process. Think of it like a tumble drier with thoughts and ideas rolling around and around until they are ready to be taken out. This is where writing ideas are born. It marks the beginning. 

Writing ideas swirl round in my head. Words collide. They appear and disappear. They are repeated over and over to ensure their suitability. Are they page worthy? I live with them for days and more, before the chosen ones emerge on the page. I frequently wake up thinking about the possible shape of my writing for that day. I wake up thinking about my writing. Later in the morning over a welcome cappuccino, I will probably talk about it –further sorting out will take place. -critical rehearsal for the writing to follow. A bubbling energy is growing within me, -an …