Kia ora tatou
You will all be back at school now after what I hope was a great Easter break. I, however, am in Sweden deeply ensconced in my work for Stockholm University. I have been here since March 20 and will be home at the end of May.
I’m teaching courses about struggling writers, delivering public lectures on the same, making films for the university on the same and writing articles on the same. Luckily everyone here speaks English.
Seriously though, I love being here – this is my fifth work visit – and it gives you time to reflect on your own context and work, and what we are doing in Aotearoa. Despite the doom and gloom put out by certain politicians on our literacy ‘failings’, I still think we’re on the right track with our quest for topic/task engagement supported by direct, deliberate and differentiated instruction. The Swedes are fascinated by this, for what we do is very different to what they do.
No, the weather hasn’t been as good for us as we’d hoped but maybe the last 3 weeks will be different.
Here’s some photos of me ‘at work’ in Sweden:
New Shared Writing Lesson
Anyway, being off-shore hasn’t stopped me preparing some new on-line resources for you:
Continuing with my new instructional venture – Murray Working With Students – I have filmed a new video – available as part of the online subscription resource.
You can see me leading a shared writing lesson, based on The Rascally Cake by Jeanne Willis, with a lovely but very enthusiastic bunch of Year 2 students. Watch me having to ‘keep them in order’ as they get (arguably) overly-enthusiastic about the topic!!
- Watch the lesson: Year 2 students, discuss the ingredients for a very, very disgusting cake! Warning, lots of ‘Ewww’ing !
- And don’t forget that there are not only extensive teacher notes to go with the lesson but also transcripts & subtitles of each lesson for follow-up analysis.
Thanks to the staff and students at Balmoral School for having us there and letting us film the lesson.
New Video Lessons, Classroom Story & Arts Blog
There’s two new Video Lessons (with teachers’ notes) now available on line:
- Could a Shark Do Gymnastics? Imaginative writing (but partly based on scientific facts) for Year 2-6 students – based on the book by Aleksei Bitskoff.
- And more imaginative writing, but this time for NE-Year 1 students and based on Supermum by Leah Russack.
Both of these lessons are available as part of the online subscription resource which can be purchased on the website, if you are not already a subscriber.
And don’t forget, each lesson comes with downloadable teachers’ notes for additional analysis and planning.
There’s a new Classroom Story resource on line that I’m very pleased with. You can read about Erin Neilson (at Selwyn Ridge School in Tauranga) motivating a group of under-achieving and non-enthusiastic Year 4 boy writers through narrative writing. The message in this story is all about ‘student voice’ and ‘taking time’. You can also listen to Erin’s boys enthusiastically reading their stories on line.
The Arts Blog
There’s also a new Arts Blog of what I’ve reading and viewing recently, especially in Sweden and during a week in London on the way. Quite fascinating.
In case You Missed it:
New Free Tool For Undertaking School-Wide Writing Inquiry
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been able to work on new resources for my website and I have pleasure in announcing the following:
- A free tool for schools (particularly school leaders) that wish to undertake their own inquiry on students’ engagement and achievement in writing and instigate their own professional learning and development programme based on this.
I have put this together because I hate telling schools ‘no availability’ when they approach me to work with them, and I believe that they can undertake their own professional learning and development given the wide range of resources I have developed for them.
Included in the tool are:
- An overview of what such an inquiry might look like;
- A survey that teachers can complete indicating their strengths and needs as teachers of writing;
- An observation form for school leaders to use;
- A document matching ‘writing issues for teacher development’ (e.g., ‘planning a writing programme’; ‘boys and writing’; ‘extending able writers’) with resources on my website that could be used for leading such development. Most of these resources are part of my on-line subscription resource scheme.
That’s it everyone. Have a great term ahead and don’t hesitate to make contact with me with any queries.