Tag Archives: Independent Writing

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.

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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

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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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Steve Peha: Be a Better Writer – When are you coming to Australia Steve?

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I’ve been incorporating Steve Peha’s writing strategies into my writing teaching for many years. I don’t have a huge amount of Facebook friends but I’m pleased Steve is one of them! You’ll find some amazing support here… Also when Angela Stockman recognises a literacy leader, I listen! Another Facebook friend! 🙂

Website

Cheers Nina

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Remembrance Day 2015: Weary Dunlop and the IB Learner Profile and attitudes.

Firstly, 2015 was a busy year so my posting was not as frequent as I would have liked. This didn’t stop me writing and recording my learning and my students’ learning. Many of my posts will be uploaded over the following weeks and cover a number of topics. My learners are 6,7 and 8 year’s old.

I’ve also taken a huge step and am no longer working in the Victorian state school system. Moving to inner Melbourne, Victoria in 2015 has meant the transit time to my previous school was unworkable long term. I will state that I was incredibly fortunate to work in an amazing school. However, I am equally excited to embrace new challenges in 2016, whatever they end up being!

Remembrance Day 2015 published on Australia Day 2016 to recognise a great Australian.

Each year our program includes the recognition of Remembrance Day. I start hunting for special picture story books appropriate to my students that will be used as launches for written responses. The books or poems chosen need to be displayed in the classroom for at least two weeks prior to being planned into the classroom program and read often. This enables young learners to develop a familiarity with the text, ask questions at home and collect further information if they choose.

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Providing an opportunity for young children to express themselves in many ways is crucial. My students were asked to create a portrait of Weary after listening to the text. We decided to limit the colors to show our feelings about this time of Weary’s life and use the illustrator’s front cover for inspiration.

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When reading their writing I was looking for links to the IB – Learner profile, attitudes and the traits of successful people. Although, I had not asked my students to make these links; I was hoping that they would. The Learner Profile and attitudes are naturally embedded into our daily discussions.

I’ve selected some random examples of my students work. Some learners have added their own elaborations to Weary’s experiences. You will notice that many of my students are using paragraphs without prompting. They also underline their spelling errors as they write and will make corrections after writing. My students know about paragraphs through an inquiry. They looked at paragraphs in books and developed their own criteria to assist them and others to use paragraphs. Some students are still experimenting with their use but are able to discuss where they could use them during a writing conference.

These young learners were also asked to think of a different heading for their response.

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Cheers Nina

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JD – ANZAC Day 2015 – 6, 7 and 8 Year Old Australian Students Respond …

My Grandpa Marches on Anzac Day:  Recognizing Anzac Day is an important part of my program each year and needs to be planned and delivered to young children with sensitivity. Using picture story books is the most appropriate way to encourage discussion.

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This is a wonderful picture story book which I use every year. The wonderful illustrations inspire our display. This year two children drew a large portrait of an Anzac soldier with other students painting. We made poppies in our classroom with my student’s Grandparents or special friend who visited school last week. My students then placed their poppies with their special adult onto our display.

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One Minute’s Silence: This picture story book is new to me. I decided to use this book as a mentor text for a piece of writing. The children were given the heading ‘In one minute’s silence … I’ve chosen a few to share here but each student’s response was very special!

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These are rough drafts. My students are responsible for correcting their writing. If required, I will model back their whole piece of writing. Yes, it takes time, but the author needs to have control and ownership at all times.

Cheers Nina

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Aunty Arty and the Disquieting Muses Written by Rowena Wiseman, illustrated by Narelda Joy

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Rowena Wiseman has a student in my class. How lucky am I? Rowena is a published writer and is a shared organizer  of our Writer in Residence program, even though this maybe new news for her. I have many ideas for our program this year and one is to really target our aspiring writers in years 5 and 6. Rowena is excited to share that her first Aunty Arty story is finally out in the world.

Jet Black Publishing is a new children’s ebook publisher based in Melbourne. Their mission is to publish inspirational and creative stories for children and young adults and they are donating 20% of the sales to children’s literacy charities, such as the Australian Children’s Literacy & Numeracy Foundation.

Who is Jet Black Publishing?

Jet Black Publishing is developing a range of teacher resources to support the series e.g. write a book review, text structure and Narrative writing plan, colouring sheets and printable classroom posters featuring an inspirational quotes from famous artists.

If you would like to know more, there is a 10-minute YouTube video where Rowena and illustrator Narelda Joy talk about how they created Aunty Arty. Discover where ideas for a book come from and how an illustrator creates rough drawings and turns them into finished artwork by clicking this link.  https://www.youtube.com/user/AuntyArty

MP News Jan 2015 (1) This is an article from the Mornington Peninsula News about Rowena.

Book information: Aunty Arty and the Disquieting Muses written by Rowena Wiseman and illustrated by Narelda Joy $11 Available exclusively as an ebook

Cheers Nina

 

 

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Writers Notebook: A powerful tool which documents if ‘what has been taught’ has been embedded and is being used consciously by students.

This year we introduced Writers Notebook across my school. My students and I absolutely love our notebooks. We have a tool/skill workbook where  student’s record / practice grammar, word-work and genre study. Their notebooks have a collection of their writing, thinking tools, planning and ideas. Some pieces are finished, others are not. There are plans, drawings, ideas, narratives, reports etc.

I chose a scrapbook and lined paper because the smaller exercise books didn’t allow for the drawings etc. Upon reflection the lined paper has meant quite a bit of sticking pages into a book but my students have managed this well. For next year our team has looked at a range of books more suitable for a notebook. I also stick books together so the children can look back and reflect on their journey as a writer. And they do!

This week I read a book by Terry Denton. The text in the book is made to look like the meaning. What was interesting was that a number of my students decided to ‘have a go’ at this in their own writing. They always have choice in their notebook. I’ve uploaded some photos of their attempt to make the words look like their meaning. These children are 6,7 & 8 year olds.

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These notebooks are powerful as documentation of learning as they show the transfer from a taught skill/ genre to a student’s writing where they draw upon what they know. I’m hoping this makes sense. The scaffolds are around the room but the students need to direct themselves and their use. The notebooks clearly show me where learning has been embedded into conscious use.

If you have writers notebooks or something similar, I’d love to know how your students use theirs and if you use their notebooks for assessment purposes.  

Cheers Nina

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