Friday, 21 March 2014

Encouraging the Next Generation of Writers.

The 'books' created by Tully's classmates in year 1. 
I had a completely different topic planned for today, but after reading Ellie’s fabulous interview with Lena Nelson Dooley (see below), I gained some fresh inspiration. Something Lena said resonated with me. The quote is:

I grew up in a family where everyone wrote, not for publication, just wrote.’


This statement made me think long and hard about the encouragement we give our children to write. 

I also wrote as a child. It was always fiction - big vibrant stories about crazy characters and even crazier situations. But somewhere along my childhood I lost my passion for writing. Maybe this was because I was steered into drama (which I also loved), but my writing fell by the wayside. Thankfully the Lord reminded me of my talent and renewed my passion.

Over the last few years I have taken this passion into my son’s classrooms. I talk to the children about the elements incorporated in books and writing, then give each student a blank booklet for them to write their own stories. It is amazing what these children produce. Their imaginations and talents astound me.

My son, Tully loves storytelling, and still produces his own 'books'. Recently he came home from school quite irritated. His third grade class had been given the task of completing a narrative. All the students were excited by this prospect until they were told they could not construct a story of their own. It had to be the story set out for them by the teacher. I can completely understand why a teacher would ask them to do this, but I shared his disappointment knowing how much these children love to write their own stories. It actually saddened me a little, because it was a task that seemed to lack passion.

It is so important that we encourage our young people to write their own stories. Who knows what passions we could be igniting when we share our enthusiasm for writing with the next generation?

I will finish off with the following ‘magnificent’ piece of writing. I encouraged Tully to dictate a report on a camping trip. He initially resisted the task, but then enjoyed it so much that he went on and on.

Here it is, in his words:

Mt Britton.

When I went to Mt Britton I saw 3 little creeks, a dead rat, lots of signs, and a very funny one. It said: ‘The owner of this land is very unstable – Smile’.

Mt Britton is a historical gold mining town near Nebo. The only things that are left are pieces of glass, an old fig tree to camp under, and some pieces of mining machinery. There are also lots of signs telling people about the past, and what was in the town.

A man planted the fig tree when the first white baby was born in the town.

Some of the buildings that used to be there are: A school, Mackay Hotel, Finch Hatton’s House, bee keepers. There are some random post signs too.

I went for walks. I mined for gold, but I didn’t find any.

I would definitely go there again because we finally got a piece of land up there, and if I am really good for Christmas I will get my own quad bike.  

Rose Dee is the author of the three book 'Resolution' series, and co-author of the Greenfield Legacy. You can visit Rose at; 
http://rosedee.com/

23 comments:

  1. Thanks, Rose. Also thanks, Tully, for your excellent story! I grew up in Queensland but hadn't heard of Mt Britton, so now I know all about it! I like to email my two granddaughters aged ten and eight when I can, as at least that encourages them to write something back to me. But your blog was a good reminder to encourage them even more with their writing.

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  2. It is really important. And sometimes children do not want to put down their computer games to do it. That is why I sat with Tully and we did this together. He dictated and I typed. And he found that he enjoyed it immensely - even though it was a report and didn't incorporate any drawing.
    Also I have found that when I go into classrooms sometimes it is the worst behaved children that embrace the writing task the most. I wonder if this is because it is an outlet for their own personal creativity. These days our Queensland classes are so stringently planned that it takes away some of that individuality. It's a shame - but we can do things to help and encourage at home. :-)

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  3. So agree Rose. I have a grand daughter who has a wonderful talent for writing, and is already having her stories added to books that her school is having printed. It's so good to see the school encouraging young writers, and anything we can do to help is great.

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    1. How cool is it that the school will print your granddaughter's books! And children love to look at each other's creative work, so I am sure that the books would be a popular addition to the library's list.

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  4. What a cute piece of writing! I too encourage my kids with writing. My six year old has been doing phonics and just learning to read for a while so the other day we started free-writing. Now I can't stop her! It's inspirational to see her passion...and of course I love to go to my room and find her offerings on the bed, the latest a picture book stapled together.

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    1. If you have a look at the photos of the kid's books, you will see one on the left about stamps - that's mine when I was in primary school. I kept it all these years because I was so proud of it. You must keep the books your daughter is most proud of. You never know what encouragement it could be later on in her life. :-)

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  5. Writing from people that age is great. Very unrestrained and full of bold ideas. Good report from Tully. Glad to hear there was only one dead rat seen at Mt Britton :)

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    1. LOL - the rat made me laugh too, Paula. When he wanted to put that in I must have given him a look because I remember him telling me that it needed to be in there because it was 'cool'. I do not think so! It must be a 'boy' thing. :-)

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  6. That's great Rose and good on you Tully. I just started as a volunteer with the Pyjama Foundation this week (involves reading and doing learning activities with a foster child for an hour a week). A few years ago they got funding to put together a book with the children's stories, so I'm hoping there'll be some opportunities to do more of that. I've already dobbed myself in as a writer. So important to encourage kids to be creative.

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    1. It is Nola. In years past I have done reading groups with Tully's classes as well - Here's a little tip I have learnt and must pass on to you; this works especially well with smaller children - Take a Prop. Take something physical that the book is about. Most of the time you will find you have instant attention to the story. For example, I have so many books about Australian animals, so I would take a stuffed toy (or many stuffed toys if I had them), and we would go around and do reading, whoever had the toy was the one reading the story, or I would ask them something about the book, or get them to tell me a fact they knew about the animal. You can even give them the prop and ask them to tell you their own story about it. It provides another fun component to the story.
      It's a great thing that you are doing. Children love to be read to and unfortunately some just don't get that attention at home.

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    2. Thanks Rose. That's a great tip. The library near me has a bunch of animal hand puppets, so I'll check out what they have. The girl I'm reading to is in Prep, so not really up to reading herself yet, but that's a great idea for keeping attention. It's meant to be a long-term relationship, so hopefully I'll be able to stay with her through primary school.

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  7. Rose, lovely post! Thanks for sharing Tully's story and it's great that you're involved in his school :)

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    1. Thanks Narelle. Tully is happy because he has been published - online that is ;-)

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  8. Great post, Rose, and I just loved Tully's report! Yes, the school curriculum is much more stringent these days, but on the other hand, at least children are now being taught point of view, something I'd never heard of (or noticed) until I started writing myself. Love seeing kids being creative :)

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    1. Yes, I noticed that, Andrea. Students are being taught so much more about the technical aspects of writing - which is a great thing, and an important addition to the curriculum. But I do wonder if the scales have swung too much towards theory. Tully told me yesterday that in Art they couldn't draw what they wanted, they all had to draw the same thing (a peacock), and it had to be done the way the teacher told them. He usually loves art, but he was so disinterested in this task. There has to be a way to give these children the freedom of their own expression while still completing the standards set by the education experts.

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    2. Unfortunately there isn't a lot of time for freedom of expression. Teachers are stressed trying to fit in all the information they must give. It's one of the reasons I am now an ex-teacher :)

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  9. Great post, Rose. I love what you do in Tully's classrooms. What a privilege. :)

    I have all the old school journals my kids wrote every Monday morning in primary school. We love to read them for that priceless snapshot of childhood they've outgrown, but still retain in their own words.

    Many thanks to their teachers for including journal writing and creative writing in those tender years.

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    1. I just explained to Catherine that the 'stamps' book in the photo above is actually mine. I did it when I was in Primary School and kept it all these years. I could never throw it away because I had been so proud of it at the time. It's so good that you have these journals from your children. You will all cherish them more and more as they grow. xo

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  10. Our grandchildren have great opportunities, more so than we oldies ever had, to write. Isn't it great to collect and keep their scribble, art work and stories. Our four eldest grandchildren were all excited to share in the children's part of the 'Festival of Golden Words' here in Beaconsfield last week. Thanks Rose for taking us through the classroom to the children and some reflections on our pen and paper works of art our parents kept.

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    1. Hi Ray, isn't it great to have an event like your festival that includes children and their work. I also thought that the Young Adult prize category in previous CALEB Awards was a great addition. It's so good to see that our young writers have opportunities to share.

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  11. Oh I hope Tully was good and got or will get that quad bike! We had a few teachers that encouraged writing. One told mum I wrote great stories when he could read them. My writing was always bad. I think it has been lost in many ways.

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    1. Oh, Jenny - I am also challenged with handwriting. And I am very lucky I did a word processing course in High School, because that is where I learnt keyboard skills.

      Tully did get the quad bike - not a brand new one, but a good second hand (and limited powered) one that he can learn on safely. But I think my husband and our family friend (who fixed up the motor on the bike) have had the most fun on it so far. Seeing grown men doing laps up and down the driveway on a kid's quad bike is pretty funny. :-)

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  12. I love that piece of writing. And you're so right--it's important we give them the courage to write whatever they want. I think English classes can stifle creativity. Encouraging them to just write out what they're thinking without worrying about it being perfect is a great way to get them to learn to love to write.

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