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!