Gilberthorpe school

Gilberthorpe school

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Murray Gadd comes to town!!!

For those that have not met Murray Gadd yet, please do!  A top man with expertise within Literacy that is highly sought after all around the world.  This year alone he will venture between Waiheke Island- where he is based, Sweden, Scotland and of course Hornby!!! ( And many more I am sure)

Murray brings such a wealth of knowledge and understanding which allows us all to benefit.  For me personally, this is the second time to work with Murray and I am very thankful that I have the opportunity.  Staff came away from the session buzzing, which is no mean feat on your first day back for the year!

You will be wondering why working with him is so powerful, so I'll try and outline that in a few bullet points :-)

His experience :
He has worked in almost every role within education and was responsible for developing the writing exemplars which are used nationally.  He also developed the effective literacy practice book which is widely used by educators across the country.  Through all of this, he is able to break down what really makes a difference when helping to teach students how to write.

Expert advice... some of Murray's messages :

  • Make sure everyone has something to say
  • Have a clear and authentic audience
  • Effective teachers are aware of the writing stages that the students will go through. Planning to crafting etc...
  • We need to have good content knowledge in order to teach others
  • We must understand what students should be able to demonstrate and achieve as developing writers
Students in Year 1-3 are learning to write, Year 4-8 are writing to learn.  This is echoed in reading.

  • Effective teachers have high expectations of their writers
  • Students need to be given the opportunity to write freely and for extended periods, own topics of their own choosing as appropriate
  • Instructional writing needs to happen 4 or 5 days a week and can be integrated
  • The instructional programme should include a range of teaching approaches, for us, giving students experiences is right at the top of the list (Writers MUST have something to say!!!)
  • Write for a purpose.  I loved Murray talking PIES- not steak and cheese :-) This referred to the dimensions of Persuade, Inform, Entertain and for Self, imagine students being able to identify which piece of the "PIE" they are biting off today!
Do we make sure that at all times students are aware of the purpose, the audience and why we have chosen that type of text???

  • Let's look for authentic and purposeful writing topics
  • Students must get a chance to write on student selected topics as well as teacher selected topics
  • Have fun with it -  Talk about ... your first birthday party, the naughtiest thing you have ever done, a person or place that is special etc...
  • Get outside, walk around, talk about what you see, prior to writing about it!
  • Motivate your writers through story telling, discussions, you tube clips etc...
  • Talk with the students so they know what they need to do, in order to be successful at the task
  • Differentiate lessons through writing groups
  • Ensure instructional lessons are focused and direct
  • Make the links between reading and writing explicit, after all, everything written is for someone to read...
  • Quality writing floats on a sea of talk- Make sure an oral language programme is in place
  • Use available resources wisely
  • Be passionate!!!  Make it fun!!!  We have the world at our fingertips.

Some great adages provided by Murray

‘You’ll never be a writer unless you have something to say’.

‘No student ever got excited by a learning goal or a genre.  What excites them is the topic and the task’.

‘A good writer re-reads, reflects and re-crafts.  In doing this, they think continually about the reader’.

‘We need to continually ask ourselves: Who needs what teaching, when and how?’

Murray himself also comes into our schools, models and allows others to watch best practice in action, something often missing as part of the PLD component.  He then returns later in the year to watch our staff in action, offering feedback to the staff to support their teaching.  Watch this space!

Writing is the area that our students struggle the most with, I am excited to see what the teachers achieve with our students over the course of this year!


  1. You captured Murray's enthusiasm and passion for his topic in this post. He was very inspiring! He set a great example of how if the teacher is passionate about their subject, it builds motivation and excitement with the learner. I'm looking forward to his next visit! :)

  2. This session was so valuable and refreshing especially around just motivating students to write instead of getting caught up in learning intentions etc. The timing of this session was also great as we head into a new year. For us in the Senior Hub, we have some adjustments t our programme to make which is exciting and motivating. I am really looking forward to seeing how our Writing grows this year and beyond.

  3. The day with Murray Gadd was amazing and I certainly did come away from it buzzing and looking forward to developing our writing programme. I especially look forward to building on this throughout the year and continuing to work with Murray Gadd and to seeing him teach writing at a junior level, especially for the youngest writers.

    I loved his focus on getting children motivated to write and the different ways to get them interested in writing getting them passionate about ideas. It certainly got me thinking about how we can get our writers to be passionate so they stop thinking about their spelling and other things that can create barriers for them in the writing process. I also loved his system for juniors of knowing words, looking words (words they can find in a word bank etc.), and hearing words (words they don't know) I would like to see how this would work with our students.

    1. I agree with the whole vibe of the way this is going. I hope the language time will be a fun time and the children take more responsibility with their learning.

  4. I worked with Murray at Riccarton a few years back and he always has something that gets you thinking a wee bit differently.
    I have definitely reflected on how to teach writing in the most important way and also how to include student choice and audience into the process of writing.
    I am really looking forward to watching him model with the students. Can't wait to get into it!

  5. Really enjoyed this day. I am looking forward to implementing knowing words, looking words, and hearing words. Just so ah ha moment.

  6. I really enjoyed this day also. Very inspired and I am looking forward to working with him this year and how our writing programme is developed.

    There were lots of things that Murray said that stood out to me. Some of these were:
    300 High frequency words they make 75% of any text
    Students in Year 1-3 are learning to write and in Years 4-8 they are writing to learn.
    26 letters in alphabet that make 44 sounds - the 44 sounds are represented by 1200 different letter combinations. 1200 letter combinations are needed in our heads to be able to write well . Knowing the right letter combinations for that particular word is difficult
    There are 1/2/3 types of words
    Knowing words
    Looking words
    Hearing words
    I am looking forward to implementing this into the writing programme in the junior hub.
    Hold an enthusiasm for writing if you can’t show this… it won’t rub off on the kids!

    I am excited to have the opportunity tomorrow to observe Murray taking a writing lesson with New Entrants/ Year 1 students watch this space….