Kia ora tatou
We’re well and truly into Term Three now and I hope that things are going well for you. As I write this, I hear that our Government is scrapping the last of our Covid restrictions and this is great news to me. Educationally, we have had over three years of interrupted teaching and learning and I can’t wait to put this behind us. I am particularly noticing the impact of these disruptions on our current Year 3s and 4s who got such a disruptive start to their schooling. But, on the other hand, I am now seeing Year 1s who are starting to fly. May we now strive again to get everyone to the level that we want them to be at.
I wrote my last newsletter from Sweden while I was looking out of my apartment window and watching snow falling like I’d never seen before. Professionally (and personally), Sweden was great. I gave a series of lectures on the teaching of writing to both current and previous post-graduate teachers at the university; I made a series of films on the teaching of writing for future teachers; and I spent time in a number of Stockholm schools and (very proudly) observed the teaching of writing by teachers who I had worked with previously. One school, which welcomed me with song, excitedly talked of their music programme being assisted by a volunteer grand-parent. The grand-parent turned out to be Benny from ABBA!!
I arrived back in New Zealand in early June and hit classrooms running as soon as I arrived. At this time of the year, it’s all about modelling reading and writing workshops with students and observing teachers running them. I’m seeing some great work out there.
New Zealand Literacy Conference
Coming up at the end of this term, we’ve got the New Zealand Literacy Conference to be held in Invercargill. I’m very excited to be attending this, especially in that our last three conferences have had to be cancelled. It will be so good to mingle and interact face-to-face with our literacy whanau again.
I’ll be presenting a keynote address (based on my work in Sweden) and running a workshop (based on research we undertook several years ago on our students’ attitudes to writing and writing instruction). But it’s the mingling and interacting that I look forward to most and I do hope that I see many of you there. From experience, I can tell you that Invercargill is a great destination.
New Shared Writing Lessons
Four New Instructional Practice Videos
Sol Harris (my filmmaker and website manager from Purple Dog Design) and I spent a great day out at Papatoetoe West School filming me working with groups of both Year 1-2 students and Year 5-6 students.
With both age groups, I ran sessions in which students shared and discussed their writing with me and with each other; and I ran writing workshops, one on ‘adding detail’ to texts and one on ‘making changes’ to texts.
These videos are a step forward from the shared writing videos that I have made in the past.
See photos above of Sol and I with our students during our filming sessions. Note the students proudly holding their writing books up, ready to be shared
Thanks to the staff and students at Papatoetoe West School for having us there and letting us film the lessons.
New Video Lessons
There’s two new Video Lessons (with teachers’ notes) now available on line:
- ‘Pearl in a Whirl’ by Catherine Robertson, most suitable for Year 4-8 students) – a beautiful new picture book, set amidst Cyclone Gabrielle that struck NZ at the beginning of 2023.
- A narrative writing activity that I first developed (as Plot-a-Chart) for Year 1-8 students many years ago.
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.
New Classroom Story & Arts Blog
A New Classroom Story
There’s a new Classroom Story resource in the works. More details coming!
The Arts Blog
There’s also a new Arts Blog of what I’ve reading and viewing recently.
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.
While you are on the website – feel free to leave comments on any of the articles. I love to read your comments and it’s nice to know your thinking!
Have a great rest of term everyone and continue to build that love of reading and writing amongst your kids. See you in Invercargill.