Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Jeff Anderson: I've Never Written so Much

10 July 2017, Ellerslie Event Centre

How Mentor Texts Inspire and Nurture Writers

You can't make children write, but along the way, you can mentor and nurture them.

From Katy Perry, Firework
Teacher, you're a firework
Come on let your colours burst
Make 'em go "oh, oh, oh"
You're gonna leave 'em writin down, oh, oh, oh

What discourages you from writing?
- time
- lack of ideas
- being judged (self-consciousness, inferiority)
- perfectionism
- not knowing how to start

Students are resistant to re-reading their work, they don't want to. Our job is getting them to reread it.

What inspires (encourages) you to write?
- having something to say
- time
- space
- knowledge
- knowing I can write well
- a reason to write (purpose)
- time limit
- communicate
- feedback (encouragement)

Low socio-economic writers do not have fewer experiences to write about, they have different experiences. We need to find writings they can write to.

How do you teach writing?
What do writers do?
How do we support writing behaviours in our classroom?

Our responsibility as writing teachers is to create a space where writing behaviours happen. The more time students spend writing, the more successful they will be.

10 things every writer should know:

1. Motion
Just write
Read a short snippet of text, and ask, "What sticks with you?"
The things that stick with you are the effective things the writer has done. By highlighting them to students, they are learning what writers do. Then read it again and they notice.
"let me tell you something about _________" (4 minute quick write). It was so easy to write when we had a starting point.
It's about keeping them motivated and keeping them writing - getting them over page fright. They need to get words down on the page to get more words down on the page. 

Power writing technique - give students to words, get them to choose one and write as much as you can, as fast as you can, as well as you can (so it is legible/readable) in one minute. (the rule - don't make a list). Children can start till the timer starts. Get children to record how many words they wrote. Next time, try to beat it. Quality isn't there but they are getting words on paper, which is a starting point.

Variation - do it three times in a row (three minutes of solid writing). Do three days in a row and see how they grow (or don't) and talk about why or why not.
Use as content-area review. Works as a way to review specific words or concepts in any content area. For example, write for three-minutes about photosynthesis or conflict. In composing or listening to what others say, the concept is often deepened. 

2. Models
I learned to write from writers, I didn't know any personally, but I read. - Cynthia Rylant

“When Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.”

Everything was grey, then in Oz it was all about colour. With the students, sit somewhere and write about what you see. Or you can do it with your class from memory. Get students to visualise a place in their minds, then silently write using these sentence stems:
I see...
I smell...
I hear...
I feel...
I taste...

Smell taps into memory

Write for 5 minutes
Share with a partner (read word for word, not explaining it) and discuss for 7 minutes
Write some more for 10 minutes

3. Focus

List three things you're interested in or curious about
Choose one item from your list and explain to a partner why it's interesting to you.
Take your Classical Invention Cards - quickly rush through the questions, skipping one or two if necessary (you should be able to make them work).

“You don't know me at all.
You don't know the first thing about me. You don't know where I'm writing this from. You don't know what I look like. You have no power over me.
What do you think I look like? Skinny? Freckles? Wire-rimmed glasses over brown eyes? No, I don't think so. Better look again. Deeper. It's like a kaleidoscope, isn't it? One minute I'm short, the next minute tall, one minute I'm geeky, one minute studly, my shape constantly changes, and the only thing that stays constant is my brown eyes. Watching you. ” 
― David Klass

"What do you notice?" Quickwrites ' "You don't know me..." This does not need to be shared with people.

“Americans make more trash than anyone else on the planet, throwing away about 7.1 pounds per person per day, 365 days a year. Across a lifetime that rate means, on average, we are each on track to generate 102 tons of trash. Each of our bodies may occupy only one cemetery plot when we’re done with this world, but a single person’s 102-ton trash legacy will require the equivalent of 1,100 graves. Much of that refuse will outlast any grave marker, pharaoh’s pyramid or modern skyscraper: One of the few relics of our civilization guaranteed to be recognizable twenty thousand years from now is the potato chip bag.” 
― Edward HumesGarbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash

We can relate to the example of a potato chip bag because we can all relate to it. By comparing the size of us to a grace, it sets the mood and shows the seriousness of the situation. It wouldn't have been as effective if it made a comparison to the size of a single bed. it is about the mood created.

Take non-fiction topics down a few rungs - narrow down the topic

Hayakawa's ladder of abstraction
What is it? Making things 

4. Detail
Focus can lead to detail and form

Detail: Selecting the concrete and necessary
The senses feed shards of information to the brain like microscopic pictures of a jigsaw puzzle - Diane Ackerman

Lots of telling that doesn't paint pactures in the mind.
She needed a job. A lot. She was hungry. She was poor. She went to a candy store.

"Emily Watson peered in through the shop window. The afternoon sun made a mirror of the glass, forcing her to shade her eyes to see inside. A long counter ran along one wall. On top were glass cases holding trays of candies — mounds of chocolate balls, butterscotch pennies, peppermint lozenges. Emily’s mouth watered. Halfway along the counter stood a cash register, its gold paint glinting in the sunlight. The lady behind it was plump and motherly. And she was alone. Emily glanced again at the small sign in the window: Help Wanted. She tugged down her too-short jacket and smoothed her skirt. Then, taking a deep breath, she pushed open the door. The jingle of the bell startled her." Factory Girl by Barbara Greenwood.

Take a paragraph from a book. Butcher it (to make it boring - cut it to the main points). Ask kids what they think about it. Then show them the full text.
Construct a table together. On one side, have 'Telling'. Break down your boring text into sections. One the other side, 'Showing' and put the actual text into it.

5. Form

6. Frames

7. Cohesion

8. Energy

9. Words

10. Clutter