Slice of Life: Writing Tips

March 20, 2010

I heard Denise Brennan-Nelson speak today at the Michigan Reading Conference.  She is the author of Willow and My Daddy Likes to Say, plus several others.  Denise spoke  about what writers do to help them write.  Keeping a journal or notebook helps with gathering ideas.  She showed an old journal; it was her husband’s maternal grandmother.  She considers it the best book she has read.  The memories shared are priceless.  Denise has her family keep a gratitude journal.  With children, she encourages them to write down one good thing from each day.  I thought this was a great idea.  I think I’m going to try a family journal with my family.  I want to remember the specialness that molds us.  With the economic difficulties on our family, this journaling will be a good reminder for us.  We have much to be thankful for!

Denise Brennan-Nelson also encourages children to ask questions.  She said that questioning is probably the best way to begin writing.  Children often ask questions when they are young.  We need to teach them to embrace the questions and use them as ideas to write about.  I know we teach questioning while reading.  We need to teach questioning with observing.  Denise will ask children to go look for three new things before the next morning.  By noticing, we begin to observe our world more.  I know Ralph Fletcher has shared that ideas can pop out during a walk.  If I have my own classroom next year, I want to have an observation window in my classroom.  Georgia Heard shared the observation window idea as a poetry exercise.

Using our imaginations is the other pointer that Denise stated that helps with writing.  She said that due to technology, our children do not always engage their imaginations as much.  Denise started her presentation by sharing that everyone has a story to tell.  Write from your heart about what you know and throw in some imagination.  A story blooms.  I love it.

Denise began and ended her session by saying, “Thinking long, at the end of the school year, what do you want your students to accomplish?”

To write with clarity, from their hearts.