Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Day Three of the Summer Institute

Day Three of the Summer Institute 

Today was a blend of poetry, description and play.

We began in the gorgeous NUI Maynooth Library where we spoke, listened, read and wrote.  Patricia worked with us on narrative, computer games, film and especially poetry.   Today we were all poets - a shift (and a chance to transfer) from being screenwriters yesterday.  We explored where teachers and learners meet and how imagination contributes to that encounter - echoing John Mac Kenna's emphasis on imagination on Day 1. Patricia spoke about text books as the 'hard shoulder' and how they can be both a help and a hinderance.  What kept re-emerging was the need for courage - the Irish word misneach lingered in my mind - and the need to be brave as educators (and for educators to be brave).  

After noon Josephine spoke about the empowering force that education can be.  Controversially (?) Josephine banned imagination!  We were shocked ... but we tried our best to be co-operative :-)  In this session we were looking at descriptive writing and trying to write what we saw - what we actually saw - rather than our story of what we saw: our interpretation of what we saw.  We realised how hard it is to watch carefully, to see details and to record those accurately - Deirdre noted the 'rising panic' she felt in completing the activity.  Mary remarked that even with very limited practice she could see that she was moving from interpretation to description.  Josephine reminded us that we should keep trialling observation - at home, at work, in cafes - where we try to see first without interpretation.  Linking with the literature, Greta urged that Donald Murray says 'Writing is seeing'.  

After lunch we returned to play where Niamh Fortune (and her onboard small fortune) evidenced the powerful link between play and writing - including impromptu writing.  Niamh, in an wonderfully enthusiastic presentation, drew out some key points about writing in primary school which we could see could have applicability across a range of education levels.  They included, the ideas of audience and purpose,  language development, the connections between speaking and writing, the usefulness of  scaffolding and modelling, how tools can inspire us to write, how we can move from images/picture to writing.  So much of what Niamh mentioned summarised the ideas that have been floating around the Institute since Monday.  As such, Niamh's contribution was a timely recap on where we have got to so far.   

Back to the Phoenix tomorrow and some time for writing groups.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Day Two of the Summer Institute

Second day of the Summer Institute brought two demos from our colleagues Louise and Ferdia.  

Louise used a great Roddy Doyle story to explore voice.  She guided the class with some principles around how she supports writing in her setting which included the ideas of: process and craft; modelling; scaffolding; engagement; reading; and that small things matter.

Ferdia set us up first as cinema-goers (virtual popcorn only!) watching a clip from As Good As It Gets and subsequently as screenplay writers.  The visual - pictures as stories - was foregrounded as was the need to for every word to matter.

We move venue to the Library tomorrow for Day 3.

Participant expectations for the week - summary doc

Summer Writing Institute 2014

Day 1 - Expectations – some themes

Feeling/Acting/Connecting differently - seeking:

  • ·      Inspiration
  • ·      To become more ‘open’ and to wonder
  • ·      To enjoy the week – to find/rediscover the joy in writing
  • ·      To become more confident
  • ·      To make new connections with people and ideas
  • ·      To meet, talk and share with others – to contribute
  • ·      To contribute
  • ·      To be enthused/To enthuse!
  • ·      To explore my voice and releasing it
  • ·      To break the rules of creative practice with more daring
  • ·      To rekindle my ‘unkempt’ side – to let loose

Greater awareness and exploration of:

  • ·      How to teach writing in a way that is creative, engaging and supportive
  • ·      Other contexts including how the National Writing Project might translate in another context
  • ·      The challenges that we and students face in writing

Participant writing:

  • ·      Exploring how my experience as a writer can inform my teaching
  • ·      Experience being part of a community of writers
  • ·      To become more confident as a writer

Practical expectations:

  • ·      New techniques and new ideas
  • ·      Time to prepare
  • ·      To help others where I can.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Day One of the Summer Institute

We have just completed Day 1 of our first summer institute.  It was wonderful to finally meet everyone that we have been emailing over and back for the past few weeks and to spend a day writing and talking about writing.

Today we used, amongst other devices, memories of food, our names, and a box of buttons as prompts for writing.  The variety in processes and writing was intriguing and the room was humming with reactions and frequently resounding with laughter.

John MacKenna worked with us at the last session of the day and led debate around some assumptions about what contributes to good writing.  He also emphasized the need for perseverance, courage and imagination.

Looking forward to meeting up as a group again tomorrow!  

Friday, 25 July 2014

Summer Writing Institute

Our First Summer Writing Institute will begin on Monday 28th July.  

Watch here for posts from the week and follow us on Twitter on @NUIMWriting #maywi2014

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Home again, home again ...

Happy to be be back in sunny Maynooth after a wonderful conference in Germany where we connected with fantastic colleagues and conversed about our work.  We even got to nip in to Poland.

Looking forward to the first NUI Maynooth Summer Institute next.  We will be posted comments here everyday so do tip in and see what is happening.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

NUI Maynooth Writing Centre in Germany

NUI Maynooth Writing Centre in Germany

We are delighted to be presenting research from our work in the Writing Centre at the European Writing Centres Association (EWCA 2014).  This afternoon we will talk about the Centre as a learning centre and how examining transfer can help us to enhance how we work with students.