What Matters? A Writing Competition for students in NSW and ACT schools in years 5-12


Each year the Whitlam Institute at the University of Western Sydney runs the annual What Matters? writing competition for students in NSW and ACT schools in years 5 to 12. Students are encouraged to write about issues that that are important to them including poverty; equality; the environment; disability; human rights; animal cruelty; bullying; the importance of family and community; tolerance – the list goes on.

The competition for 2015 has just opened, and closes on Wednesday 6 May.

For more details please see:

Encouraging our students to write

We love to celebrate the words our students write at Canterbury Girls’ Secondary College. As teachers, you know how fabulous it is when a student crafts a piece of writing that makes you laugh out loud, subtly hints at a greater truth about life, lingers in your mind because of its eloquence, or powerfully evokes your senses because of a masterful grafting of words and sentences. =>

Colouring fun with the plant and animal alphabet

Learn the alphabet while you colour, with the beautifully intricate Animal and Plant Alphabet.

Here is a sample – the Letter A.

Click on the picture to go to the alphabet

Teen Blogging a Good Thing, Study Suggests

A new pilot study is supportive of teenage blogging, as the vast majority of study subjects used the blogs to nurture relationships with their peers and build a sense of community.

In the investigation, Ohio State University researchers studied 100 teen bloggers from around the United States.

The finding that the blogs were used in a positive manner, rather than to admit misbehavior, was a welcome discovery.

This preliminary study suggests that blogging could be used therapeutically to help troubled teens express themselves in positive ways, said Dawn Anderson-Butcher, associate professor of social work at Ohio State.

Read more …

Teaching writing? Try social networking tools …

An interesting article from Angela Pascopella and Will Richardson : The New Writing Pedagogy
Using social networking tools to keep up with student interests.

Here is practical proof of the advantages of using web 2.0 or social networking tools in teaching writing…

A fifth-grade class at the Saugus (Calif.) Union School District is working on a writing assignment using social networking. The district is leading an ambitious plan to rethink writing instructions and pedagogy in the schools.
Cory was a special education sixth-grader at the Saugus (Calif.) Union School District when he wrote an entry on his blog page entitled “The Spied Enemies: A War Journal.” This make-believe story opens with the words “I am Johnny Willow, a hero to some people. I will tell you my story about my adventures in World War II.”

Cory, who posted the story in the fall of 2007, states how Willow hears Japanese planes flying over Pearl Harbor and then dropping bombs, specifically on the USS Arizona. “I saw everything start to become blurry. I woke up in front of the captain. He said, ‘You are lucky to be alive.’”

Because Cory was in a class that used social networking tools for writing—specifically Elgg, an open source media platform—other students, teachers, family members and even the general public were able to comment on his story. For example, an “army colonel,” who did not give a name, said about chapter 1, “Your words have painted a very vivid picture. You did an excellent job of illustrating the terror of war. Keep up the good work.”

Cory is now an eighth-grader and no longer in special education classes, says Jim Klein, the district’s director of information services and technology, who helped push the idea of using social networking for writing in the district’s schools about five years ago. Klein attributes Cory’s transformation to the story he wrote and the positive comments he received. “Suddenly, Cory is not an outcast,” Klein says, noting the positive feedback Cory received and the self-confidence that resulted. “It changed his perspective on life. And he has friends now.”

Read the whole article here …

Children who use technology are ‘better writers’

Children who blog, text or use social networking websites are more confident about their writing skills, according to the National Literacy Trust.

A survey of 3,001 children aged nine to 16 found that 24% had their own blog and 82% sent text messages at least once a month.     read more …

Storystarter for kids

This website provides 729 creative ideas and writer prompts for junior writers.  All of the story starters are randomly created.   This idea generator can be used for short stories, novels, plays, scripts, or just for fun.