Elbow to elbow partner talk

DSCN2085One of the features of 21st century classrooms that teachers are being encouraged to create is collaborative classrooms where students feel comfortable to share ideas and provide each other with feedback. Elbow to elbow partner talk is a great practice which encourages students to share their thinking or offer feedback in a small group situation. Last week I used this technique to allow students to share their writing with a partner and then offer ideas to make their partner’s work even better. The results from this five minute talk time were amazing. Most students added something else to their writing and a less able student with a blank page was able to complete the writing task with his very supportive partner’s assistance. A win -win for me, the teacher, and for the quality of the student work that was completed.

Is it grammar, poetry or art?


Who would have thought that a cup of coffee in the Botanic Gardens in Sydney on the weekend would lead to a lesson plan. The bamboo spoon that came with the coffee was just too nice to leave behind and as we chatted an idea emerged. Teach students the grammatical pattern, noun, verb, adverb (or adjective, noun, verb, adverb). Ask students to think of words all starting with the same letter and write them on the spoon handle. Now we have a grammatical pattern and alliteration. Next ask students to draw the image on the bowl of the spoon.

When we figure out how to put a hole in each spoon and connect them with fishing line to a rod then we will have an art installation as well! I would write more but I need to go and buy a pack of bamboo spoons.


Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 3.40.17 PM   One of the great things about holidays is coffee and conversation with friends. And, let’s face it, if the friends are teachers then talk invariably turns to work! I was excited by a young teacher’s remark yesterday. She plans to introduce WOW sessions to her writing program in year 5. WOW stands for Working On Writing. She will introduce short writing sessions, either open ended or writing to a prompt. I like the idea of encouraging creative and effective communication in a short burst. It reminded me of a great workshop I attended with the author Libby Gleeson who had all the attendees writing during the day. The two topics I remember best were writing about something significant that happened when you were 10 and writing for ten minutes without using words with the letter ‘e’ in them. The second topic was challenging but it was amazing what people wrote! I will look forward to my next coffee date to hear how Grade 5 are enjoying WOW.