Tag Archives: Be a Better Writer

Working with Mark (Year 10) to ‘be a better writer’ using Be a Better Writer by Steve Peha – documenting Mark’s learning.

Mark is in Year 10 in Victoria, Australia. I’m working with him to ‘be a better writer’. I’ve asked Mark if he’s happy for me to share his journey here and he is! We’re using Steve Peha’s book to guide us. Mark is an extremely bright, articulate young man.

Documenting Mark’s learning: Initial sample and observations

I asked Mark to write something he had to do for school and I discovered Mark is left handed. He suffers hand cramps and doesn’t have keyboard skills either. However, Mark is very computer literate, but had chosen to use his iPad or phone for everything. His subject content knowledge is high and he knew what the question was asking, but he has to be able to record his thoughts in an essay.

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Above is Mark’s starting piece and my reference sample.

516aatihrgl-_sx348_bo1204203200_Where to start: The Basics

I immediately asked Mark to change his posture and I checked his pen grip. I also asked him to write on every second line from now on and not scribble through changes. Dotting every second line gave the visual cue he needed. Mark’s incredibly receptive to advice. Just these few simple changes would enable Mark and his teacher to read back his writing and for Mark to correct his spelling and grammar whilst writing.

What do we/I want/need to learn? Kunyung P.S Learning Cycle

learner-cycle

After observing Mark write and talking with Mark, he decided that punctuation is where we need to start first. Mark is invested!

The pen must be always in the hand of the writer. The writing belongs to the student! The student needs to be able to articulate their understanding of each question in the learning cycle

Below: After focusing on two punctuation and spelling rules you can already see a difference in the quality of Mark’s writing.

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Whilst reading Steve’s book, I’ve tabbed certain reference points for myself. Unpacking Chapter 8: Better Punctuation has been interesting for me as a teacher.

Each chapter starts with ‘the stuff that matters most!, 10 things you need to know.’  This is followed by background information about rules and the bsteve-page-272-2est ways to learn about punctuation rules.

The beauty of this book is that its not written just for teachers, its written for students too.

Next is ‘Your Checklist for Better Punctuation.’ Steve explains the key things that effective punctuation involves using. He uses the phrase ‘Ask yourself’ after questions, which is an invitation to inquire.

On the side of the page are tips, each with an icon. These are terrific!

magnify-2Light bulb: Think About This

Clip board: Three Great Things To Do OR Learn

Question Mark: Ask Yourself

A Key: Key Ideas

Magnifying Glass: Look Closely

Steve explains that the checklist doesn’t cover everything, but it covers the ‘most important five groups of punctuation’.

1. End of sentence punctuation

2. Mid-sentence punctuation

3. Capitalization

4. Paragraphing

5. Dialog

The chapter includes examples, explanations, tips and tasks for :

Punctuation Changes Almost Everything

Punctuation Reading

Punctuation Inquiry

When Sentences Go Wrong

The Muddle in the Middle

Example: The Muddle in the middle: I love the way Steve explains the Cantankerous Comma, the Dashing Dash, Polite or Impolite Parentheses, the Commanding Colon, the Superfluous Semicolon and the Ethereal Ellipsis.

What will Mark be focussing on this week?

At the end of each chapter there are activities to complete and Mark and I will be doing these. One activity we’ll do this week is: Take an Edit Pass Approach to Correcting Your Own Work following Steve’s steps. I’ll write about this in my next post!

Cheers Nina

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Practical PD for teachers leads to instructional change: Sue, her writing, her story, her future!

Professional development comes in many forms. Some of the best PD is practical and that’s what I’ve been doing this week. I’ve been teaching my friend Sue, just like I was taught by Jenny Luca the following: 516aatihrgl-_sx348_bo1204203200_

  • How to start a blog
  • How to manage your dashboard
  • How to create and use a Twitter account
  • How to create and manage an Instagram page
  • Start a new Facebook page
  • Linking your blog to these ‘social’ pages
  • How to own your site

Sue is an outstanding teacher and passionate writer and everything she is learning is transferable to the classroom. Her blog is now receiving actual reviews from readers and Bendy and Tash can be googled!!!

Ali, a teacher colleague responded: I’m loving it!! These are great!! I always said to Sue she should write a book!!

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As a gift, I gave Sue her own copy of Be a Better Writer by Steve Peha. Sue, equally has been using Steve’s work for many years and now has his book. And yes, she has been referring to it while writing her spoof crime fiction. sue-steve-pehaFor example, we discussed capitalization and had a few things we weren’t totally sure about, so we opened Steve’s book Be a Better Writer and read up on capitalization.

‘Chapter 8. Better Punctuation.

The Importance of capitalization. Capitalization has a confusing history. So let’s agree not to confuse ourselves as we look at the one capitalization rule upon which all others are based and take a practical approach to common problems.’ Steve Peha

Steve’s book is written for teachers… and writer’s aged 10 to 16 years but we think it should say any age.

Bendy and Tash: Best Friends, Problem Solvers & Crime Fighters is now bendyandtash.com

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Sue is not really a ‘newbie’ writer because she has been teaching writing for years and writing herself. However, now she is a published writer! As I said in my last post, sometimes you have to get to a certain age or level of confidence to share your writing with others. The more you write the better writer you become.

If you need a laugh in your day read some of Bendy and Tash’s adventures. There is a co-author who contributes too. Sally from Tassie, Australia!

NB: My son, a 22 year old uni journalist student read Bendy and Tash too. His passing remarks to Sue were, ‘Well, I know your target audience’. But, let it be said, he was laughing while he was reading! 🙂

Cheers Nina

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