Saturday Sayings

I’m joining Tammy, my new bloggy friend from Forever In First, in her Saturday Sayings!

The quote in the image above comes from Katie Wood Ray’s Wondrous Words. I found this book a few years ago and just devoured it. In my mind, this particular quote sums up the entirety of Katie’s book and the essence of the writing craft.

We live in a world where sometimes we think we shouldn’t “copy” someone else’s work. But how else do we really learn? When I sit down at my piano, I sometimes listen to a piano CD and try to imitate the rhythm, cadence and emotion.  When I sew, I look at pictures and patterns for inspiration. Why should writing be any different?

Years ago, when I was in 2nd or 3rd year university, one of my profs told us to visit the curriculum library and to borrow a folder of A+ papers that his previous students had submitted to him. He told us to go over them carefully and learn from them. So that’s exactly what I did. And back then I was NOT a very good writer. I had no idea where to begin or how to organize my thoughts. I found one essay I really liked (it was short and succinct) and I modelled my own essay after that one. You guessed it — I received an A and my paper was put into my prof’s writing folder.

Reading and writing is so inter-connected, that it’s impossible to learn/appreciate one, without the other. When I started to think this way about writing, it really helped to improve my writing instruction. I have to sadly admit that I’ve fallen out of the habit, but a few years ago, when reading exemplar texts to my class, we would stop and think about what made that particular book a really good one. Did we notice a pattern? Wondrous language? Repetition? Alliteration? Whatever it is we noticed, I encouraged my students to emulate the writing style.

That was the year I taught a split Grade 1 / 2 class and wow! some of my Grade 2s really took off with their writing. They wrote engaging stories following the patterns of classics such as The Important Book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and The Napping House.

One of the reasons I asked Tammy if I could join her in her “Saturday Sayings” was because I knew it would force encourage me to reread some excellent teaching resources I have.

I am publicly recommitting — beginning Monday —  to encouraging my students to think about and to closely examine the texts they love with a “writer’s eye”.  I want my students to be thinking, “How can I make my writing sound a bit more like this author’s writing?”

Yes, I know it’s the end of the year and my students are young, but it’s never too late or too early.

Happy reading and writing!


17 thoughts on “Saturday Sayings”

  1. Barb, thank you so much for joining me today. I knew I was going to love your thoughts. Anyway, I think we can all do more of just what you're talking about here. I know I sure can. By the way, I've read Katie Wood Ray, but I've never read Wondrous Words. I should add that to my pile I'm guessing?❀ TammyForever in First

  2. WOW- have I told you that you have excellent writing skills (Oh yes I think I did :), but saying it again !!Audrey

  3. that is so true. I find my students seem to make so much more progress when we sit down and really take apart the style of writing. When beginning a new writing genre, I take a week to look at good examples of the style of writing. First we do it as a whole class (modelling), record the things we notice (layout, punctuation, types of words, etc and why the author would do that – purpose for the audience) and then I repeat with another example. We then use a venn diagram to compare the two, using what we find they have in common we use as a hypothesis (rubric) of what we think that type of writing should have. Then I split them into groups, give them 3 more examples and they use those examples to test their hypothesis. It really sets them up to be successful writers, and it gives us a reference to refer to when setting next steps together.I have a copy of the checklists etc that I use for instructional writing on my blog Seeds of Learning

  4. That's great! I love the saying. And now that I'm your newest follower (thanks for stopping by my blog…it led me to yours!) I look forward to reading more! 🙂 Maureen <a href

  5. I LOVE Katie she is my idol. I think I now have all my books. One of my favorites from her is a quote from hearing her speak last summer. She said we should all “stand on the shoulders” of other authors. I used it A LOT in my writing workshop this year. My greatest moments in class were when one of my kiddos came up to me to share their writing and would say “look Mrs. Klinger I stood on the shoulders of so and so. I even heard one little kiddo share a story with another and that smart little kiddo liked the story so much she said-That's a great idea I'm going to stand on your shoulders today!!!! HOORAY for Katie Ray!!!!!


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