My friend and colleague of many years Angela Stockman is now going to be working with teachers and communities to start their own Writing Studios. I’ve been learning from Angela for a long time and watched and read with great interest the work she has been doing with young writers. Angela shares her learning with all and that is special. Angela made an announcement today and I am delighted for her.
Well friends, I’ve been called to travel down a brand new pathway as I continue this writing studio journey of mine. The good news is that I’m beginning to realize the vision that launched the WNY Young Writers’ Studio ten years ago: starting this summer, I will be helping school districts, community leaders, and even nonprofit agencies launch and sustain their very own writing studios within and well beyond western New York.
Equally, Steve Peha has received another award for his book Be A Better Writer and once again I am incredibly pleased that Steve and his wife Margot are receiving recognition for their amazing work. I’ve been using Steve’s work for many years. Visit Steve’s site Teaching That Makes Sense.
I manage with Steve Australia Writes with Steve Peha Facebook group where Steve shares his work and responds to questions from members. To access the group you will need to request membership.
This document is excellent and one I think teachers should read. The diagram is simple, yet very effective. Reading and writing are being taught separately and I understand why this is happening, but believe there’s a real need to make links between reading and writing explicit and this document does. Steve’s headings below are fantastic and headings I would introduce to students.
- Writing Community – Reading Community
- Writing Process – Reading Process
- Writing Strategies – Reading Strategies
- Writing Applications – Reading Applications
- Writing Quality – Reading Quality
- Writing Connections – Reading Connections
Link to full document above… Integrated Literacy is a framework for K-12
Steve has a Facebook group called AUSTRALIA writes with Steve Peha. Steve is sharing many wonderful resources and answering teacher questions. He’s also working with teachers in Australia and actually visits classrooms via Skype. It is a closed group so you will have to join. Here is the link:
This post has been read many times recently. This is a wonderful strategy and can be used by any age. All contribute, it’s student led and encourages all writers to have a go.
Nina's Arena-Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom
PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing sessions enable me to roam, listen to conversations and question my student’s understanding of concepts and skills. I’m able to question individuals and groups about the strategies they are using to compose their text. Their feedback is enlightening and I’m always surprised by how well they articulate what they are doing, the strategies they are using and their collective knowledge of punctuation and composition is evident. I’m always looking for the transfer of explicit teaching foci.
Recently my students took their parents on a Student Led Tour of their learning and we decided to write about the tour.
I’ve written about this strategy numerous times in my blog. To read more simply type PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing in the search box. I firmly believe this strategy scaffolds, supports and accelerates my student’s writing.
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Sometimes a post gets read more than others. This is an oldie about a fantastic strategy which I would start week one of Prep/Foundation. Student Led Interactive Writing for all ages and stages.
Nina's Arena-Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom
The key is students working collaboratively, sharing their learning, prompting each other and using skills and language used by teachers. Each student is engaged in the activity and committed to contributing with the support of their peers if needed. Groups can be structured to support children if needed or to extend children.
Each child is identified by a color and all are given the opportunity to lead a group. Teaching leadership skills concurrently is essential. The children are given poster sized sheets to write on and colored markers. All students record their name down the side of the paper in their chosen color. This enables the teacher to assess the writing development of individual students.
I use PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing to assess and plan my weekly writing foci. It’s interesting to note that my students’ independent writing improves rapidly. As with independent writing I’m looking for…
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Working with Mark is an absolute pleasure. Mark is doing Year 12 Philosophy within his Year 11 program. He’s a very able student who has struggled to get his thoughts on paper. Last year he made great progress with his writing using Steve Peha’s Be A Better Writer.
One of Mark’s big issues is ORGANISATION! Today we got organised. Mark printed off a calendar and we put it up on the wall and started recording important dates e.g. tests, due dates and Common Assessment Tasks. When asking Mark when something is due, a couple of weeks is probably not the best answer. The beauty of this wall is he can’t miss it. My advice is place it near the kitchen or better still, the fridge!
Mark needs a visual timetable/calendar clearly displaying key dates and we’re using different coloured highlighters for each subject. We use these in primary classrooms but they just look different. Next week we’ll put all assessments on the calendar for this term and then it will his responsibility to keep it up to date.
Today we revisited the structure of a philosophy essay and looked at a possible essay topic around what he has been learning. We pulled a topic apart and placed each part of the topic on sticky notes using the prescribed structure.
Possible essay based on classroom learning:
Teaching genre is crucial for all ages. Structure helps the writer keep on track. We also revised Steve’s chapter on better sentences or what we have covered so far and listed three key points to keep in mind while writing.
Mark’s task was to independently write an introduction paragraph on the topic Mark chose. Next week we will build on this. Mark will be working on his handwriting with me but I can see enormous growth in his writing. He wrote quickly because we are looking at timing in preparation for exams. Structure has given Mark the confidence to start immediately. We will also be looking at a narrative letter response for Year 11 English.
This is a snippet but I’m very pleased with this.
Recently I’ve noticed that one of my posts is receiving many views. The post is about communication and leadership which I wrote after attending the Leadership for Community Engagement program. One of the program leaders was Dr Elizabeth Mellor and I wrote a summary of her ideas in a previous post which I have reposted below.
You, as a leader, will be different to a manager, you will be finding solutions, you will use your courage and confidence to influence others, you will speak a common language and find that common language so you can move forward. You will empower others and be an enabler so you can shift barriers. You will encourage others to ‘think big’ and work towards delivering transformational change. You will coach others on how to measure change, be respectful and a listener so you understand and collaborate.
You will not shy from anything and you will get in and learn. You will empower others to solve problems because you can’t fix it all. You will take risks and from taking risks you will gain experience to put into other aspects of your role. You will give others a voice and act on what they want and work side by side with them to achieve your common goals. You will be capable of ‘unlearning’ and not be judgmental. You will build a ‘treasury’ of good practice to help you evaluate actions and capture what has been learnt so you can measure the impact of changes and improvements.
And finally, you will deliver to every child and family. Your flexibility will be key to you being a leader, as without flexibility you will impede innovation. You, as a leader, must leave the profession in a better state and by building the capacity of others you should do yourself out of a job!
A Message from Steve Peha
Hi, Friends! Thanks for coming on board. We’re going to do some fantastic work together. Start posting about the kids you teach, the writing challenges you have, what you want help with, etc. I will start loading up resources. We can start talking about Skype visits to your schools, our Be A Better Writer book and Classroom Program and other books and resources we can help you acquire. Big thanks to Nina for bringing us all together. Kind regards, Steve
What an incredible opportunity for Aussie teachers of all year levels, Foundation – Year 12 to work with Steve. Steve has had such strong support from Australia that he decided he wanted to do more. Teachers from other countries may certainly join and I’m sure you’ll find it valuable.
Steve will be working with the Australian and IB-PYP curriculum.
I’ve been working with Steve this year, but have been using his material for roughly ten years. This is my opportunity to give back to Steve and to work with Steve and teachers across Australia and other places.
Here’s the link to join the group. Visit and join us for a year of learning how to teach our students of any year level to BE A Better Writer.
LINK to join Australia Writes (with Steve Peha)