Author: Amy Cotton

Creative writing can be confrontational and therefore scary to both students and teachers alike. We all have imaginations, but the fear of being judged for the way we express ourselves can stifle expression.

Often students will complain that they don’t know what to write, or that teachers don’t understand what they write. Sometimes they’ll state they don’t know how to start.

The truth is that fluency as a creative writer takes constant work and practice. Some of the best writers in the world will take years to write a single novel, but we expect students to create whole stories in 40 mins. So, given that we can’t change the assessment of creative writing, what can we do to help our students?

Create safe zones for writing

Allow students time to write without the fear of their work being read, or worse, assessed. Writing sheer nonsense on a page is better than writing nothing at all in these circumstances, so even if they are stuck, encourage the student to write. They might want to write the same word over and over – that’s okay. Let them get bored with that and write something else out of frustration. Frustration is a good motivator for artistic expression (although not the only motivator!)

 

Take it back to basics

Before we ask them to write a story, let’s focus on getting the foundations right. Centring whole lessons on establishing a setting or developing characterisation allows students to work together to develop imagery. For instance, use a photograph of a setting or person and ask them to describe it. What you’re looking for is to elicit responses of increasingly complexity. For example, if the photo is of a man ask what does he smell like? Why does he smell like that? Do people notice the scent? Eventually the students will begin to disagree with each others’ ideas – that’s great. Now get them to justify why their idea shows more about the character. And when the students are adding meaning and justifying that meaning, step back to allow that discussion to self-perpetuate. At that point, the class is using literary techniques to justify what they are creating.

 

Make use of genres

Encourage students to explore the tropes of genres and use them in their storytelling. They might use them as expected, or subvert the genre for their creative purpose. Genres are often avoided by teachers, but they are a great way to explore literary techniques and common imagery. There’s no reason why students can’t tap into a genre to add depth to their creative writing.

 

Question why the story exists

Students can ask the following questions as they develop their stories:

·         What does the protagonist want?

·         What is the protagonist’s dilemma?

·         What is happening right now in the story that is urgent?

·         What happens if the protagonist does or doesn’t get what s/he wants?

Does plot matter?

It depends on the exercise. If you’re conducting just a writing exercise, plot may not be important. Eg, if you’re just working on building settings.

However, for a short story that is going to be assessed, plots will help. The hero’s journey is the most well known narrative structure, but sometimes can’t be replicated well in a student’s story. They might choose to do just a portion of the hero’s journey, or a simplified version such as:

·         Introduction to character

·         Introduction to dilemma

·         Reason for character’s impetus to doing anything at all

·         Conflict (what impediments must the character struggle through to fix the dilemma?)

·         Resolution – success or failure?

·         Coda – was there something to be learned?

 

Practice, practice, practice

The most important element is, again, practice. Articulating the imagination takes constant work and editing, and sometimes you have to be willing to just throw work out.

I ask hesitant creative writers to try 5 mins a day. They can do it on their phones, but they have to just write about something they saw, felt, heard, smelt or experienced. If they didn’t experience it in real life, I’m encouraging of what they experienced in their imaginations – just write it down! It won’t be perfect, and it doesn’t need to be, but the more they write, the more fluency they will achieve, and the more they can borrow and edit from their previous work when they need to write something new.

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Author: Amy Cotton

One of the most common workplace injuries for teachers is of the vocal folds. Teachers constantly engage in public speaking for prolonged periods of time in adverse conditions and without audio enhancement. A teacher who loses their voice permanently will find on-going employment difficult to find, however, we rarely engage in preventative activities or training to support our voices.

Fortunately there are many things that teachers can do to care for this voices in an ongoing capacity.

Warm ups

Try to do at least 5 minutes of warm up vocal exercises before any prolonged period of using your voice. These don’t need to be done in a 5 minute chunk – you can do 30 seconds and then another 30 seconds until you’ve warmed up your voice sufficiently. Mainly, you’re looking for exercises that vibrate, flex and stretch your vocal folds and get them ready for a big day of talking.

u  The hum

u  hummmmmmm – ahhhhhhh – hummmmmmmm’ – repeatedly (breath!)

u  Bring the volume up and down

u  You should feel a buzz in your fingers (when placed on your skull)

u  The yawn

u  Being to yawn then pause

u  Feel the openness of your throat

u  Let the yawn go (without finishing it)

u  The silent giggle

u  Breath in and out quietly whilst giggling

u  Whilst giggle and breathing, say gently things like vowels, days of the week, numbers

u  This will relax and open your throat.

 

TLN Podcasts has a good episode on voice care that you can download and listen to for free. Look for episode 10 on this podcast listing: https://www.tln.org.au/Podcast

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Author: Laura Greaves

I am a motivated, dedicated teacher who has taught in various educational settings, lived with families of students who have additional needs in a consultancy role and worked with and continue to learn from teachers of all levels of experience.

What do you believe Inclusion means? (In an educational environment) 
Inclusive classroom practices come in many shapes and forms. I am sure there are aspects of every classroom, everywhere, that are both inclusive and exclusive, as there are such situations in everyday life.
Developing and learning strategies that can be modified and implemented to suit different learners IS being inclusive.
Although I am presenting on the topic of Inclusion, I will never pretend I am more of an expert on any topic. I am sure we can all remember times when, due to time restrictions, life pressures or simply not having enough information about a student has meant the teaching that was presented to the student/s hasn’t been the most inclusive. It is important to remember that before we walked, most of us crawled. Running a truly inclusive classroom comes with information and time to practice.

In order for us to get inclusive practice right, it is essential that we understand what it means, and what the perimeters are around our teaching practice regarding Inclusion. Then, with a solid understanding of Inclusion, we can be sure the strategies, learning tasks and even teaching styles we are using are on point.
There are plenty of great articles out there that go through Inclusion and highlight some key strategies. My advice? Start with the DET policies and documents around Inclusion so that you can be sure you are on the right track legally and respectfully.
http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/studentmanagement/Pages/studentengagementguidance.aspx

So, what is the next step in your inclusive journey?
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Author: Kate Chinner

 Physical Activity is important for everyone but particularly students in our schools. The Department is aiming for students to be doing an hour of physical activity a day in schools by 2025.

 

The benefits of physical activity for senior students include:

·         Promoting healthy growth and development

·         helping to establish connections between different parts of the brain

·         improving concentration and thinking skills

·         Improving balance, coordination, and strength

·         Relieving stress and promoting relaxation

·         providing opportunities to develop social skills and make friends

Even though students are already quite active, we play an important role in ensuring they get an adequate amount during the day. You can incorporate physical activities in between lessons, movement to or from specialists or a few minutes once students achieve a class reward, which is a great incentive to work for you during the day.

Some ideas for physical activity in the senior classroom include

Outside games

·         capture the flags

·         Running races

·         Kick ball

·         Sports games Basketball, netball and soccer

Inside Games

·         Silent ball

·         Rolls soft dice- each side is different action

Incorporate in learning

·         Act out stories

·         Time students running and graph the results

·         Let students stand up to work / move around room

·         Read standing up or some activity each page or 5 minutes. 

 

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Author: Kate Chinner

 

 Physical Activity is important for everyone but particularly students in our schools. The Department is aiming for students to be doing an hour of physical activity a day in schools by 2025.

 

The benefits of physical activity for junior students include:

·         Promoting healthy growth and development

·         Building strong bones and muscles

·         Improving balance, coordination, and strength

·         Assisting with the development of gross motor and fine motor skills

·         Improving confidence and self-esteem.

Even though students are already quite active, we play an important role in ensuring they get an an adequate amount during the day. You can incorporate physical activities in between lessons, movement to or from specialists or a few minutes once students achieve a class reward, which is a great incentive to work for you during the day.

Some ideas for physical activity in junior classroom include

Outside games

·         Duck duck goose,

·         Hide and seek

·         What is the time Mr Wolf

·         Octopus

Inside Games

·         Musical statues

·         Teach students a dance or song with actions

·         Silent ball

Incorporate in learning

·         Treasure hunt (find letters, numbers, shapes, or colours)

·         Act out stories
·        Play maths games with movement

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