Tag Archives: writing

The dangers of rumours and gossip and how the art of slow and being well informed can save the day

The dangers of rumours and gossip and how the art of slow and being well informed can save the day

By Gary Moore, Principal, Rutherford College
First published in the Rutherford College newsletter March 22, 2017

The purpose of this article is to reinforce the value of checking information/ gossip using the triple filter test as a process.

So much negativity can be avoided if firstly we verify the facts and whether the information is true, and then whether it is either good or useful before passing it on verbally or digitally. I also believe this includes taking the time to pause and reflect before liking something on Facebook. The desire for a speedy response can start a negative chain reaction.

What’s Important Now is for us to learn the art of slow, an ability to calm down and check things out properly before maybe wrongly assuming you have all the information. At Rutherford we don’t ‘assume’, we slow down and apply the triple filter test.

Please keep the philosophy of the triple filter test in mind the next time you either hear, or are about to repeat a rumour.

Socrates. (469 – 399BC) the great Greek philosopher came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students? “Wait a moment,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”
“Triple filter?” “That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my student let’s take a moment to filter what you’re going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”
No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and … ” “All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter ofGoodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?”
“No, on the contrary…” “So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, even though you’re not certain it’s true?”
Socrates continued. “You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter – the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?”
“No, not really…” “Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?”

We can all develop this type of wisdom.

Writing Warriors Writer of the Week – Week 8

Week 8’s Writer of the Week is Thomas.

The story of Blake the dog

Once there lived a dog named Blake. Blake the dog. He lived with a happy family. He had his mum and dad there with him.

But when he started to get happy with this wonderful family everything started to change. The family decided to sell the cute fluffy puppy.

Blake was hoping that nobody would want to buy the dog. But later that day a family came in the door with a flier of Blake. They wanted to buy him.

Blake now belonged to a new family. They took Blake away from his beloved former family.

He was at his new home. There was another dog named Frank. Frank was an old looking dog.

“Don’t think they’re nice,” said Frank, “just because they have kids. You get food every week and it’s not a lot of food so welcome home, friend. And also there is a cat named Whiskers that lives here. It’s not a very nice cat.”

After hours and hours of talking about the bad things that can happen to Blake, he decided this wasn’t a good family to live with so he made a run for it.

He sprinted as hard as he could but his fastest wasn’t good enough. He couldn’t fit into the hole in the ground that ran under the fence.

He managed to jump over the fence.

The sun was a blazing sphere in the sky. So it was a good day to be looking for his family – he was off. It felt like he had been doing the Olympic games. He got tired after about fifteen minutes.

Just when he was about to give up, he saw his family cross the road so he barked as loudly as he could. The family noticed that a dog barked at them but the family thought that it only looked like Blake.

They were going to the coffee shop so he followed the family. When Blake got to the shop and when the family saw him they said

“there’s that dog again it just looked like Blake.”

He tried barking and barking. It still didn’t work so he tried doing a cute roll over move. It still didn’t work.

Later that night, one of the family members noticed his collar and it said ‘Blake’.

They were amazed that he was standing in front of them! They were as happy as a couple getting married. The decided to take Blake home and the first thing he saw was his parents and his brother. They were all happy to see each other. Blake’s life had changed.

He sat in front of the fire every night for half an hour. He got twice as much food as he had at that bad family. He soon forgot about the bad family that he used to live with. It was a good thing.

So Blake got back with his family and lived happily ever after.

The end.

Writing Warriors Writer of the Week – Week 7

For Week 7, our Writer of the Week was Alex for her story “Sore”.

Sore

It was a calm night in a magical forest. Even if you didn’t believe in magical creatures, if you looked close enough you would be able to see the little creatures hiding away from you.

Let me tell you a story about a little elf who lived in a very queer forest, with very queer people that lived in the strange place. The little elf was called Fletcher. He had a small pointed hat, a tiny pair of pants and coal black shoes that would be so miniature they would fit a little girls smallest dolls feet.

On the day of the crowning of the new queen, everyone in the kingdom came to the castle. They cheered and laughed as the queen came out and greeted the people.

Now as for the little elf, he was the queen’s servant. The people in the kingdom thought it would be a dream to be the queen’s servant but Fletcher knew that it was horrible working for the spoilt, bratty queen, Pompadour.

The evilest of evil, the most devious person in the world, she may have looked nice and pretty on the outside but she was an evil annoying witch on the inside.

Fletcher was a very nice elf and didn’t deserve to be treated the way he was being treated.

Fletcher was the complete opposite compared to Queen Pompadour.

One day Fletcher was getting the queens dinner,

Queen Pompadour yelled at poor Fletcher.

“Get me my soup, NOW!” she demanded.

“Coming, your majesty. The soup is a bit late.”

“I realise that, you knuckle head,” screamed the Queen.

Fletcher had had enough of that demanding slug they called a queen.

He sprinted to the kitchen and grasped a bottle of poison. He poured it into her soup and brought the soup back to the table.

This wasn’t an ordinary poison. It was a poison that didn’t make her die. It made her throw up slugs. And this is what happened. The Queen threw up slugs.

After that, the Queen was outraged and felt like killing Fletcher. She knew that he had poisoned her soup.

But she never got a chance to get her revenge because the next day she fell into a volcano (while she was having a tour).

Writing Warriors Writer of the Week

Congratulations to Hannah Gavin. Hannah was voted WoW (writer of the week) for the year 6 ‘Writing Warriors’. This is her winning piece.

 

The best of friends

Two little princesses lived in a giant castle with the King and Queen. They were called Lucy and Lilly.

One day they were in their bedroom playing with their toys. They heard a rattling noise in the wardrobe so they went to have a look.

Suddenly something tapped Lucy on the shoulder. Lucy turned around and screamed at the top of her voice and almost fainted.

Lilly, the slightly dumb one said: “What are you looking at?”

“Can you not see it?” asked Lucy in a surprised voice.

Then Lilly saw the gigantic being which appeared to be half eagle and half lion. She thought it was breath-taking!

She bought it to her bedroom and wanted to do some research to find out what exactly this creature was. She decided to look in her biggest mythical creature’s book to see if she could find this creature. She found it in the book and discovered that it was a griffin.

She took the griffin – her new best friend – to show the King and Queen. When the King and Queen saw the griffin they smiled with concerned looks on their faces.

“Hello, mummy,” said Lilly. “Look at my new friend. I called him Sammy,” she said in an excited voice.

“WOW, how splendid,” the King spoke but there was confusion in his voice.

Then Lucy woke up. She had fainted. She saw the griffin standing above her and Lilly was at her side.

“Do you like my new friend?” asked Lilly.

“Yes,” said Lucy.

They went to go and play with the griffin upstairs. By the time night had fallen, the griffin started to disappear.

When the griffin finally disappeared, it was like he had never been there at all.

Blog: Better writing practice

By Phillip Simpson, April 2012

Writing, both the practise and assessment of it, is highly subjective. What one teacher considers good writing may not be considered as such by another. In terms of assessment, it is often hard to get consistency from two teachers on one piece of writing.

An important consideration is that nobody is born knowing how to write. Everyone has to work at building and growing their writing ability. A colleague once said that she didn’t enjoy writing at school because she knew she wasn’t going to be a writer. I didn’t know I was going to be a writer when I was that age either! It didn’t stop me from enjoying the writing process. And in fact, like most things – I enjoy writing more now that I have become better at it. It is human nature to enjoy things more if you are better at them.

I come from a background of both a teacher and a writer. As such, I do hold a few beliefs that won’t be shared by others in my industry. In other words, whilst this pedagogy may work for some children, it won’t work for all. But then again, what does?

Practise makes perfect

I was never explicitly taught how to be a writer. I don’t remember learning it at school and I didn’t go on any courses. I read some of my earlier work and I confess – I cringe a little. Something inside me dies just a tiny bit. But I’ve got better. You know why? Because I write a lot and I read a lot. In my case (and this won’t work for everyone), I have become better because of practice. It certainly didn’t happen overnight. I’ve been writing seriously for over ten years and during those ten years, I’ve read a lot of books and I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words. Basically, becoming a good (or better) writer takes time. Like anything – you need to work at it and practise. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nothing good comes easy.

I can’t stress practise enough. Whether it be playing tiddlywinks or driving racing cars, you need to practice. The more a child reads, the more than are exposed to good writing and a wider range of words. The more language they are exposed to, the better they are able to correctly write their own sentences. Read every day. Write every day. Practise, practise, practise!

Reading makes you a better writer (but not always)

“Good readers will become good writers!” is a mantra frequently heard but like most statements, is sweeping in its generalisation.

The statement simply isn’t always true. Sure, some good readers can become good writers, but good readers will not automatically and inevitably become good writers.

This statement can be dangerous when used as a basis for a teaching pedagogy. Encouraging children to read as much as possible as well as giving them opportunities to write creatively is fantastic but … if it’s your only form of writing pedagogy, not all children will be successful. Sure, some will but certainly not all.

In my classroom, I have a number of good readers. Out of those good readers, probably half are good writers. Why not all though? This is the question that needs to be answered. I’ll get to that.

I’ve been an avid reader since I was a youngster and the predominant reason for this is cultural capital and a ‘monkey see, monkey do’ attitude. By cultural capital, I mean I was always exposed to a great deal of literature at home. My father collected books and they were stacked in piles all over the place (they still are). You couldn’t move without tripping over a book so it was inevitable that I would pick one up and start reading it at some point. That book led to lots more. I also saw Mum and Dad reading. A lot. Let’s face it – children are easily influenced by what they see.

Make it fun

I read for fun. I love reading because it transports me to another place, another reality. My wife likes me to read more contemporary fiction but I often don’t see the point. Reading for me is an escape from reality. Another world that envelopes me. And reading should be fun for children. It shouldn’t be a chore. Let them read whatever they like, as long as they enjoy it. It’s about joy so when teaching, don’t overanalyse it to death – it does have a tendency to take away some of the enjoyment. You want children to lose themselves in a book.

Saying that, while enjoying it though, a good reader should question why. Why do they enjoy it? Was it the sentence structure? The story itself? The characters? What we learn as readers, we use as writers. It’s an eclectic process. You’ll take stuff you like from this author and that, mix it together to create your own style.

But you need to enjoy your writing. A child who doesn’t enjoy writing will probably not develop as a great writer because of their reluctance to write. A naturally talented athlete may not perform to their potential simply because they don’t practise – they don’t work at it. Therefore, you need to make sure that what the children are writing is fun.

Reading and writing needs to become a habit. It has to done every day and (for children and the reading aspect at least) from a wide range of reading material.

Exposing them to good source material

Get children to read great writers (or storytellers). Writers that aren’t necessarily literary giants but are just good storytellers. That will make them enjoy the reading process even more and hopefully try and emulate this or that writer.

As a writer, I often feel myself being influenced by what I am reading. This is great for children. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. I couldn’t ask for anything more than for children to try and copy Roald Dahl’s style for instance. And writing is so subjective. A great writer to me may not be a great writer to other people. Just because one writer is using lots of complex sentences, metaphors and other aspects of more advanced writing – doesn’t necessarily mean they are a better writer.

To be a good writer, a child (or an adult for that matter) needs to be able to communicate ideas using the correct language patterns. They need to be able to understand sentence structures and to be able to pick the correct genre. An understanding of both surface and deeper features is also needed. Creativity is fantastic but not always readily available.

There is an old adage – you can’t get something out of nothing. Children require inspiration which is why much of their writing has to be based on personal experience. They simply can’t produce thoughts or concepts that they haven’t experienced in some way (now this can also be through something they’ve seen on TV or read in a book). Even the most unique, creative and extraordinary ideas can only exist as a combination of previously learned bits of information.

If, as teachers, what we need to do is give children an experience with appropriately sophisticated language patterns, then wouldn’t exposing them to great examples of relevant literature be the best way. Reading should give them the right skills then? Right?

Sometimes, but not always. Many children who become early readers – independent readers – often do not store the correct language patterns in their brains.

Good readers will often skip words, phrases and even complete sections of books that might hold them back. Therefore, these bits they skip are not going to be stored for use in their writing.

So, what should they do which will allow them to store the correct language patterns in their brains? Listening (reading to) and memorization.

Reading to

I tell parents all the time that they should read to their kids. Yes – even if those kids are reading independently and confidently. By not reading aloud to them, we deprive them of the chance to hear reliably correct language patterns and they never get an opportunity to listen to language patterns above their own level.

We want to challenge and expand their vocabulary and understanding. We want to give them an opportunity to discuss words and their meanings. By not reading to them, they miss practicing being a good audience (good listener) and just enjoy that happy warm feeling I always associate with being read to (by a good reader at least). What about opportunities to ask questions about what they’d read?

Children who have been read to with correct and sophisticated language patterns for many years, are much more likely to develop competence in written (and verbal) communication skills.

Memorization

Memorization seals language patterns into a brain. Andrew Pudewa (Classical Teacher, Winter 2005) argues that there is no greater tool. He goes on to say that memorizing and reciting poetry gives the brain the perfect opportunity to seal these language patterns in. Of course they have to be the right poems with reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns. Rote memorization may not be in vogue but it has its place in education. It certainly served previous generations (for hundreds and even thousands of years) who don’t seem to suffer from illiteracy as much as the current generation seems to.

Memorization, Pudewa argues, is a powerful way to teach, to learn, to develop skills, and to preserve knowledge. Memorizing and reciting helps fuse neurons into permanent language storage patterns which can then be applied into writing. Relevant poets can also help stretch our vocabulary and our language patterns. “A child with a rich repertoire of memorized poetry will inevitably demonstrate superior linguistic skills, both written and spoken, because of those patterns which are so deeply ingrained in the brain,” says Pudewa.

Some (not all) children even love to recite poems. Creativity and language are given wings to be called upon at will. I know people who can still recite poems learnt twenty, thirty or fourty years earlier.

Conclusion

So not all good readers will be good writers and not every method listed here will help every child. But used together – they are potentially quite powerful. Be innovative. Remember that good writing is subjective. Don’t be afraid to try out different things. I don’t believe there’s any right or wrong way in teaching. Just do whatever works to turn the kids on to writing.