Thanks for joining me at the virtual coffee house! It’s great to see you after such a long time. Grab your coffee and let’s get settled on the big yellow sofa in the corner near the fire. It’s chilly again tonight and the threat of rain is imminent, as always. Continue reading
Posted in If We Were Having Coffee, Weekly Trail
Tagged #bloggersbash2018, #mondayblogs, #MondayCoffee, blogging, books, exams, facts, feedback, inspiration, news, relationships, school, work
Every Friday afternoon, my Writer’s Club meet to share our latest work, new ideas and, of course, complete the flash fiction and haiku challenge of the day. All this is done in half an hour. But, one of the first questions I ask when a story is discussed or an idea is framed for peer discussion is: what’s the hook?
Books flow in abundance from adults willing to share their lives or create escapes for others to enjoy. The purpose of these writings, the hook, is vitally important for any child to grasp if they want to become good writers. I can correct their grammar and spelling or focus on punctuation till I’m blue in the face. Alas, it doesn’t make their stories any more interesting if they don’t have a hook, a purpose.
Through so many sites, companies, self-help books and other paraphernalia, we are taught the winning structure for getting our written word published – the how-to and what-not-to-do. In school, we focus more on getting the children to write legible sentences that fulfill the protocols set by government standards (which never stay the same). While some children sail through and grasp the concepts thrown at them with ease, others struggle and need a change of tack to get them to enjoy learning about grammatically correct sentences that mean absolutely nothing to them in the scheme of things. But, imagine if, just for a change, we focus on their enjoyment of the task. Imagine if we motivate them to find what’s missing from their work and to add it in all on their own.
That’s my purpose. I find the key to turn the engine to get the child motivated enough to find the missing link. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. That doesn’t mean I give up trying different ways, nor does it mean I ever think a child is a failure or incapable of improvement. It’s thinking outside the proverbial box of education and finding that spark to ignite the young minds to infuse their work with their personalities; to find the hook. I aim to enhance their skills as writers and become something that won’t tick all the boxes immediately, but will send them off with a confidence to learn more and achieve something greater than just a good grade: self belief.
So, the next time you enter a classroom or run your intervention groups, think of that exceptional child in the corner looking at you with his or her chin held in defiance to learning…and smile. You are the seer, the oracle. Give that child the key to unlock the knowledge trapped inside and set his or her mind free. After all, what’s the hook to this tale?
Posted in Weekly Trail, Wensfriesday
Tagged blogging, blogs, children, learning, literacy, school, support, teachers, teaching, writing
Hello! I am so happy to see you back here in the coffee house. It is great to see the decor has changed: the new paintwork and art lifts the atmosphere as does the new furniture. Dibs on the bright pink patchwork sofa near the bookshelves housing our resident authors’ books. If you’ve ordered your beverage, why not join me on the sofa. Tonight, we have the singers from This Is Jinsy entertaining us.
The first two weeks of studying have passed swiftly and I am thoroughly enjoying it. My love of history is growing with every assignment and meeting the other students and my tutor have secured my confidence in the course. What have you been up to over the time I’ve been away? I have been trying to keep up with bloggers and authors, dipping in and out of their blog pages and FB. If I haven’t managed to visit you or say hi, please forgive me. You are definitely not forgotten – I will get to you as soon as I can.
With us sailing swiftly towards November, my Writer’s Club at school is brimming with excitement. We have spent the month of October preparing for our exciting new novels and I am happy to say we have new children attempting the great feat of writing their own stories over the next month. Many are now veterans and are so helpful in prompting the younger ones (my youngest member is 7!) and have such a mature attitude to the writing process. Many have won prizes over the past year through different competitions run by the Young Writers. The challenge this year is going to be to reach 5000 words which is a lot to ask for any junior child. I have great confidence in them all and wish them the best of luck. Unfortunately, this year I will not be competing as it will be too much with assignments, work and the clubs. Don’t think I could push for more things to do. Plus, it will be my birthday month!
Are you planning on challenging yourself over the month of November? What genre story do you plan on writing? Does your mind stumble and you find yourself stuck with only one idea? Well, there have been so many good ideas floating around the net about how to write and Robyn Paterson has shared great formulas on crime fiction. The best advice I can offer, if you feel some trepidation, is to enjoy yourself. Pace yourself and try not to fall too far back on your word count each day. If you do, don’t worry. Find the time to make up the word count but don’t leave it to the last week or the last few days! Try to give yourself enough time to load your story and verify your word count at the end and hey presto – you’ll be a Nanowrimo champion!
Now, let’s sit back and enjoy the last song of the evening before we have to return to our normal lives. Thanks for joining me and I’ll catch up with you soon.
Posted in If We Were Having Coffee, Weekly Trail
Tagged #MondayCoffee, #mondaycoffeeshare, #youngwriters, blogging, books, changes, competitions, exams, fun, humour, inspiration, learning, life, music, NaNoWriMo, relationships, school, work
I’m so glad I have an opportunity to write to you after a manic November. As successful as it was, the pace made me question whether I would make it to the end. I did though and am pleased to announce that a high number of the children taking part in the NaNoWriMo Challenge for 2016 met their word targets and surpassed them considerably. Students that participated last year took it upon themselves to really challenge their abilities and their stories have shown what one year’s education can do for them. The plans were stronger and more efficient, their writing was of a higher standard and I’m pleased to say they are actually looking at their edits and correcting them, compared to the tears and tantrums I had to deal with this time last year.
For the younger students, it was a baptism by fire! Some thought it was just another fairy story without a strong middle or a relevant end. After making them sit down and read their stories out to their friends at Library Club, they soon realised that a storyteller has to have much more than pretty pink dresses and matching pink sparkly shoes to make his or her story interesting. It was a fantastic way for them to work on their stories too, as one child found out that her story had a huge gap and mixed characters, a flaw her audience refused to accept. After looking at me with woeful eyes, I suggested she ask her friends to help her fill in the gaps and they gladly skipped off to work the story map again and find a solution to the problem. Hopefully, this will give them the tools to use in class to finish their work in the same way. Check your work, edit out the mistakes and check it again, just in case. They’ll probably detest the sight of me by the end of January next year as I am determined to make them have more responsibility over the stories they submit for the Children’s Anthology.
My youngest writers surprised me. Their determination to finish and be a part of the process was amazing and I’m incredibly proud of them. Once all the stories are edited and checked again for improvements, I will be busy putting them together into the anthology which will be available for the parents to purchase and of course, I will keep a book or two in our school library for the children to read.
The proudest moment I had out of this whole process was when I read a story written by a year 5 student and was blown away by the style and structure of the story. It was a typical zombie story but the style was similar to the horror genre on the market at the moment. I started to get the feeling that maybe, just maybe, she had copied that style and even the storyline. So, I decided to question said writer about how she managed to get such a good script written and who was her inspiration. She shocked me by telling me it came from a story she had read in the Children’s Anthology I created from last year’s writers! Of course, I wracked my brain trying to think of who had written a decent tale of zombies to inspire another writer to such an extent. The real surprise was when she pointed out it was a story written by my daughter called Live or Die! That pretty much made my day. She is currently looking over her story and working ways of improving the end part which wasn’t as strong as the start, but still very good.
From aliens, to many many visits to Candy Land, from princesses with Gobbins under bridges to foxes and witches, the children have created their own special worlds where readers can lose themselves and go on a magical ride, thanks to their hard work and perseverance.
A special thank you to all the parents who take an interest in their children’s writing – you don’t know what a huge impact you are making on your children just by listening to their stories or sparing a moment to help them overcome the monsters and find solutions to how the princess will find her shoes again. These children will have more confidence because of your time and energy in helping them, so thank you.
Making waves into oceans
Setting dreams into motion.
It’s the middle of the week and I have a hunkering for a midweek treat. Our heatwave is causing a ruckus with eating habits and I’m burning more energy running around classrooms than I normally do. Not that I’m complaining – it’s nice to have warm hands for a change as I’m usually the poster girl for Frosty.
Warm rays are drying my slightly damp hair and the sounds of children playing interrupt the droning noise of traffic. My son is learning to play netball and has a knack for clap-catch. Still, the appeal of a sweet treat drowns out everything else.
Some exciting things will be developing over the next few weeks which will require more hard work and dedication. I love a challenge, especially when it involves motivating children to find their inner writing talents. NaNoWriMo is a go too which means I might not have time for my own challenge; it’s hard enough finding time to finish my books.
Right, enough chatter. I’m off to find some fudge, chocolate or hidden stash of nougat! Enjoy your Wensfriesday.
It has been so long since we’ve had a coffee. Sorry we aren’t at our usual coffee shop – work has been mad and my projects have overtaken all my spare time. So, without too much pomp and ceremony, I’d like to welcome you to my bat cave!! Continue reading
Posted in If We Were Having Coffee, Weekly Trail
Tagged blogging, blogs, building, children, coffee, crafts, flowers, friends, garden, happiness, Monday coffee, school, theatre