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There are many reasons to write.
You might write to remember (I’m a huge list-maker!) or to explain something (instructions on how to work the washing machine for my house-sitters). You might have a great story to share on your FaceBook page or the best “Dad Joke” to tell because you want your FB friends to have a giggle. When I write an article or when you write a parent newsletter, the purpose in mind is often to inform or educate your reader about a topic.
Too often we ‘schoolify’ the purposes for writing. By this, I mean the only purpose children have to write is to hand something into the teacher. Children might go through the motions of reproducing a Recount or an Information Report, but do they really understand the power that this writing can hold and recognise times when they would want to write in these genres?
Embracing a Writing Workshop approach where children make books (versus writing on single pages in one exercise book) can help them see the authentic purpose for writing. Picture books are made to be read – on our own, with others, to others and re-read over and over again. So, when we make books as writers, we make something that is innately designed to be read and enjoyed.
This eCourse explores one of the purposes for writing: to teach your reader. Traditionally, we might have called these Information Reports. Too often this was presented in a way that limited how and what children wrote about. Their ideas needed to fit in the ‘recipe’ of a Report and often they were given the topic to write about.
Well, the good news is – there IS another way!
The “Write to Teach Your Reader” eCourse is tailored to teachers of 5-8 year olds. You’ll certainly be able to modify many of the ideas for younger or older writers, but the examples are all from young writers in the Early Years of Primary Schools.
What will I learn?
Over the 5 Modules, you will learn ways to engage children in writing about their own rich topics rather than be given the same generic topic to write about. Once you’ve tried this, you’ll see how motivated your children are to write and you’ll never give them the same topic again! This is critically important, as the Bookmaking Approach seeks to help children see themselves as and think like writers. At their core, writers write about things they know and care about. We teach children how to generate ideas and topics rather than be dependent upon the teacher to provide one.
You’ll also learn how to bring an inquiry stance into your Writing Workshop by harnessing the power of mentor texts. You’ll discover specific organisational structures, features, graphics and word crafting that you can teach.
In a nutshell, the eCourse won’t give you everything you can teach in a Unit of Study about “Information Books”, but it will provide many mini-lesson and conference ideas and will also set you up to successfully discover more ideas from your own reading like a writer.
I hope you enjoy the eCourse - and making lots of Information Books together with your young writers!
What our Trial Group are saying about "Write to Teach Your Reader:
"The part about the curriculum being the outcome of instruction rather than the starting point really rang true for me and about how we can start with the children's curiosity and be responsive to them.
Your modelling on noticing like a writer/illustrator when reading Donald's book was fantastic. So many explicit examples in your course to really show people how it all works."
Amy, Foundation/Year 1 Teacher, rural South Australia
"The highlights for me were:
- Encouraging educators to craft their own text with the children and to implement as an example of the writing process.
- Using the children's texts as examples
- Including authentic grammar lessons within a bookmaking session.
- The reminder that we want our early learners to use a craft independently, not because they have been instructed to.
- The emphasis on including information texts in our workshops, not just story writing. It is so easy to forget to broaden horizons."
Bec, Foundation Teacher, Adelaide
Commonly Asked Questions
I’ve never done an online course before – what is it like?
I personally talk you though a series of slides that you’ll follow at your own pace on the screen. You have control over how slowly or quickly you work through each Module. The downloadable Reflection Guide supports your thinking with key points from each Module and guide questions and prompts so you can make connections along the way. In between Modules there are recommended foci for observing children learning as they play. The downloadable Make Connections Guide supports you in your observations and in preparing for your teaching.
How long does each Module take?
It is difficult to know this exactly, because everyone learns at their own pace and will take different amounts of time to journal and/or discuss with colleagues. However, a rough estimate is that each Module will take approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours. The Making Connections Guide will provide recommendations for you to explore in between Modules and these will take approximately an hour or so. It's very personal, so you may end up spending more or less time researching books for your own Stack of Mentors for example.
Do I need to do the Modules in order?
Yes. The Modules are designed to build on each other and need to be followed in order. However, you can always return to a previous Module if you want to review anything.
How long will the whole eCourse take?
Again, this is hard to know as your personal schedule will determine how often you can engage with the online materials. I recommend that you give yourself a week in between each Module so you can consolidate your thinking and also have time for the Making Connections suggestions. For this reason, the Modules are ‘dripped’ out to you once a week. But don’t worry if reports are due or your children get sick and you don’t get to a Module one week. You will have six months to access it so you have the time to devote to your learning.
Do I get Professional Development credit for the hours of professional learning?
At the completion of Module 5, a certificate of participation for 10 hours will be supplied to you. (This is based on 1 hour per Module and an estimated 5 hours for the Making Connections recommendations.)
How does it work if I want my Team to participate together?
We all know we learn so much more when we have the chance to talk about our thinking and listen to others’ ideas.
We have found it to be more effective for each participant to have a separate log-in (to work through the Modules independently and then you can meet as a group to discuss). To support your team to learn together, we offer a Team Discount for groups more than 3 from the same site.
Email Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org with the names of your team members and she will send you a discount code.
You qualify for the team discount if there is more than 4 participants from the same site/team.
But what if I don’t have a team to learn with?
Don’t worry! You will still get a lot from the eCourse if you need to learn on your own. I’ve designed Reflection Guides to support you to journal about your thinking. In fact, even if you’re learning with a team it is a good idea to journal your ideas. The Make Connections Guides will also support you to make connections to your context. And…one of the reasons I decided to use Thinkific as the hosting site for my eCourses is each eCourse has a Discussions capacity. So if you like to feel connected to some others who are learning through the eCourse at the same time as you, you can post ideas or questions in the Discussions and build some online connections. I check in on the Discussions from time to time also.
What technology do I need?
All you need is a computer with speakers and access to a reliable internet service. The course modules have been thoroughly tested across multiple devices and browsers and are all functioning correctly, but occasionally some users run into issues. These are usually related to specific computers, internet browsers, internet connections or school security firewalls.
To avoid the frustration of being blocked by your site’s security firewall (which unfortunately we can't control), we recommend that prior to beginning the eCourse, you contact your school’s ICT/Network manager about removing any security block on the eCourse or Thinkific site.
We also find that GoogleChrome is a more reliable browser for the Thinkific platform so you might like to use this from the start.
How much does it cost?
Full access to the 5 Modules is AU$225.00 per person, including admin fees and GST (Australia). This works out to be less than AU$25 per hour for professional learning that you can do in your own time, at your own pace.
What do I get for this Registration Fee?
- Access to all 5 Modules
- Reflection Guide for each Module
- Making Connections Guide for 5 Modules
Lisa is an educator who sees herself as an ‘every-day researcher’, fascinated with childhood and learning. After a number of years teaching and leading primary schools in Australia, she consulted in and around New York for ten years. Her highly regarded consultancy business is now based in Adelaide, South Australia. Lisa’s interests include early childhood education and care, imbedding and contextualizing the principles of the Reggio Emilia educational project within learning environments, play, literacy learning, inquiry learning and strengthening children’s connections to nature. She is passionate about pedagogies that see children as capable and competent learners who are skilled in researching life and making connections. Her favourite work is side-by-side with children and educators in their learning settings.
Lisa has presented at a number of national and international conferences, including REAIE Landscapes of Imagination Conference (Melbourne, 2016), International Reading Association Annual Convention (Chicago, 2006), Australian Literacy Educators Association Annual Conference (Darwin, 2006), National Staff Developers Association New York State Conference (Rochester, 2006) and National Association for the Education of Young Children Annual Convention (Atlanta, 2006). Each year she is invited to present keynote addresses and facilitate workshops at regional and international conferences. Lisa writes a quarterly newsletter and is presently working on ideas for her second book.Her first book was published by Redleaf Press and is titled “Are You Listening? Fostering Conversations that Help Young Children Learn”.