Come Away With Me – A Writing Retreat

21 Sep

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Everywhere I go this week, I’m greeted by trees bursting into blossom! Welcome to Spring! A wonderful time to reflect on the progress of the year so far and to harness our energy for the term ahead. Next week, I’m heading to Bali where I’ll attend The Writer’s Festival and take time out to nurture my body, mind and spirit. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime to devote myself to my writing – the very same passion that drives my teaching and my business as a whole. Twenty five years ago, I launched my gap year in Indonesia and started my daily writing practice – one habit I’m so grateful to have continued over the years. I invite you to journey with me as I attend an Ayurveda Retreat, participate in lots of writing workshops and even try a silent meditation program. (Most people I know laugh when I mention the silent retreat….) I’ll be updating on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and on this blog so if you dream of escaping the world for a while, I’d love the chance to share my adventure with you! And if you have any tips, yummy restaurants, not to miss sights – please share those too!

 

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Playing With Metaphors and Similies

15 Sep

Welcome to Monday’s Muse! Every Monday morning of the school term in 2014, Write Away With Me posts an open ended writing and/or storytelling activity that you can try with your class or your children at home.

This writing activity explores how a few well chosen words can create metaphors, similes and vivid imagery. Life is our muse, our inspiration. What imagery could we use to describe life and living? Below is a slideshow presentation brought to you from by Senior group at Parkdale – 2013. Writing like this, always makes my heart sing. This might just be the perfect way to end a writing term. There is much scope for creative thinking, writing and philosophical discussion here. I used SlideShare to create and share this powerpoint. It’s easy to use and share with others – classmates, parents and the wider school community. Enjoy!

After 25 years teaching experience, from Early Childhood to VCE, Beth Cregan combined her passion for books, writing and storytelling to launch ‘Write Away With Me’. Now in its fourth year, Write Away With Me offers a wide range of original and creative storytelling and writing workshops across Victoria. Our high energy workshops cover a wide range of writing styles/genres and a flexible approach, means it’s possible to tailor the experience to match the needs of your students and your school. Interested in booking a workshop for your class? Check out the range of storytelling and writing workshops today! Workshops for secondary classes and Professional Development programs are also popular

I Love Lists: Part 2

08 Sep

If you have been following Monday’s Muse, you’ll know I love lists! I have used Alan Ahlberg’s list poem, ‘Things I Have Been Doing Lately’ to insire many a writing workshop. (You can see the poem and read my earlier post here.) This term at The Writer’s Club, we’re exploring personal writing with a focus on developing a daily writing practice. Personal writing gives us a chance to to celebrate our unique style and writer’s voice so I thought I’d share last week’s workshop with you.

As part of our journalling experience, I have introduced a range of writing activities that capture a moment in time, so ‘Things I Have Been Doing Lately’ seemed the perfect starting point. We read the poem together. It has just the right amount of humour and truth to capture the life of a typical nine year old. How could we use words to do the same? Capture our life, right here and now? The results were wonderful. What I love most about this sort of poetry is the opportunity it provides to play with humour which can be a difficuly writing skill to master.

Hudson kindly let me share his poem on the blog. We loved it.

Things I have Been Doing Lately

Writing this poem.

Picking up my pen.

Opening my pen lid.

Picking up my pen lid again.

Moving my arm.

Raising my eyebrow.

Swinging on my chair.

Back and forth.

Side to side.

Looking at the time.

Day dreaming.

Spinning my pen.

Thinking about what I had to eat last night.

Tapping my note pad.

Flicking the pages.

Do I have A.D.D.?

 

After an opportunity to share our poems, I gave out sentence strips and each club member created a title for a new list poem. We collated them on the noticeboard- such a great collection of writing possibilities such as:

  • Things That Make Me Happy
  • 15 Things I Want For Dinner
  • Things I’m Good At
  • Things That Make Me Different
  • 10 Things I Couldn’t Care Less About
  • Things I Love Doing On The Weekend

I’ll give each writer a  copy of the list titles for their journals. I would have loved the opportunity to have students choose a random title and use it to inspire a piece of writing but we ran clear out of time. This might be possible in your classroom. Things I Love Doing On The Weekend may be an alternative to your usual Monday morning recount.

Happy writing!

Beth Cregan

 

 

 

Tell Me A Story!

31 Aug

 

Welcome to Monday’s Muse! Every Monday morning of the school term in 2014, Write Away With Me posts an open ended writing and/or storytelling activity that you can try with your class or your children at home.

After a recent storytelling workshop, a young teacher stopped me and asked, “How do you get the kids to listen to you like that? You had them … mesmerised.” Now let’s face it, children these days can be a tough audience to impress. They’re accustomed to a continuous stream of instant high tech infotainment. At any one time, they’ll be listening to an ipod, watching T.V and/or playing on their ipad. Sometimes all at once. But the latest research shows that this constant multitasking makes it difficult for children to focus their attention on a single outcome. (No kidding!) And all too often, children are passive participants in these activities, so the opportunity to think creatively and activate their imagination may be limited.

So why then, is something as simple as storytelling, so engaging?

The teacher who described the effect of storytelling as ‘memerising’ was pretty close to the truth. A great story simultaneously engages the child’s physical, mental and sensory channels. When a child in your class is immersed in a story, they are not only interpreting complex information, they are visualising it, they are feeling it. And if the immersion is deep enough, they can momentarily lose track of time and ‘travel’ to a different space. Their eyes open wide. They start to imitate the teller’s facial expressions. Their breathing slows a little. They hang on every word. The storyteller also experiences this change of energy. The story itself may be fictional but the storytelling experience shared by both the teller and the listeners, is very real. And just a little bit magical…

So if a child is actively listening and I have their undivided attention, storytelling can become a powerful teaching tool?

Yes definitely – there’s only one condition really. For all this valuable learning to take place, the listener must feel connected to the teller. In a busy classroom, I think we sometimes underestimate the importance of giving the children our full attention but storytelling demands this of us. It snaps us right back to the present moment. Before Ibegin telling a story, I gather the children around me so I see each of their faces, especially their eyes. I tell them about an invisible string the reaches from their eyes to mine and that the story travels along this string to them and their feelings travel back to me. This exchange is exactly why storytelling builds trust and creates community. Sharing stories connects us to each other. And to think that all this can take place in your classroom or home with no costly resources or special high tech gadgets. No gimmicks at all really. Just you, the kids and a story. Okay, want to get started?

Here are three quick storytelling possibilities you can try today:

• Children love to hear stories about their teachers and parents. Think back to what it was like to be the same age as the students you teach. Tell them what life was like for you. How have things changed? What games did you play? Who were your friends? What pets did you have? Did you know any funny characters? Let them ask questions. Your personal stories will creep out of the crevices of your memory and come to life right before your eyes.

• Find an extended joke that has a beginning, middle and an end so it’s easy to remember. You’ll have them not only listening but laughing along with you. On second thoughts, better find a couple of jokes – guaranteed they will want an encore.

• Re- tell a favourite fairy tale, folk tale or a fable. These stories live in our memory and can be easily adapted and extended to suit your audience.

Interested in reading more? Check out these blog posts and our Pinterest boards relating to storytelling!

After 25 years teaching experience, from Early Childhood to VCE, Beth Cregan combined her passion for books, writing and storytelling to launch ‘Write Away With Me’. Now in its fourth year, Write Away With Me offers a wide range of original and creative storytelling and writing workshops across Victoria. Our high energy workshops cover a wide range of writing styles/genres and a flexible approach, means it’s possible to tailor the experience to match the needs of your students and your school. Interested in booking a workshop for your class? Check out the range of storytelling and writing workshops today! Workshops for secondary classes and Professional Development programs are also popular.

Random Advice

24 Aug

 

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Welcome to Monday’s Muse! Every Monday morning of the school term in 2014, Write Away With Me posts an open ended writing and/or storytelling activity that you can try with your class or your children at home.

Our imagination is an incredible thinking tool. It allows us to build mental images and reach well beyond both real and sensual boundaries. So are you ready for a little creative thinking this morning? In this activity, you’re encouraging flexible thinking as your students look for interesting similarities between a range of inanimate objects and their own lives.

First step is to read through Advice From A Tree (above) and discuss how this advice  relates to both trees and humans. You may need to highlight some of the language. For example, what does it mean ‘to go out on a limb?’ How might this relate to both trees and humans?

Next, brainstorm a list of possible objects that could be used for this writing activity. Some good possibilities include objects such as doors, windows, basketball or even a key.

Once students have selected their object, encourage them to focus initially on one or two pieces of advice. To be most effective, the advice needs to ring true for both the object and humans which requires students to play with images, words, and phrases.

I love this sort of writing activity. Don’t expect the activity to be finished straight away. It may require a little tweeking and refining over the week as ideas slowly surface and come to life.

Happy writing!

Beth Cregan

After 25 years teaching experience, from Early Childhood to VCE, Beth Cregan combined her passion for books, writing and storytelling to launch ‘Write Away With Me’. Now in its fourth year, Write Away With Me offers a wide range of original and creative storytelling and writing workshops across Victoria. Our high energy workshops cover a wide range of writing styles/genres and a flexible approach, means it’s possible to tailor the experience to match the needs of your students and your school. Interested in booking a workshop for your class? Check out the range of storytelling and writing workshops today! Workshops for secondary classes and Professional Development programs are also popular.