Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tips From an Author

Sometimes I think I kind of know how to teach writing, and then there are those moments when I'm reminded of how much I don't know about teaching writing. One of those latter moments occurred last week when Gary Hogg, a published author of children's books, visited my school. He shared his expertise during an assembly, writing workshop session with my class, and a family night event. During his 45-minute writing workshop session with my class, I actually saw what my top few writers could actually do. Ahh man. Time to step up my game.

Here are some quotes and thoughts I wrote down and immediately added to my writing workshop mini-lessons.

  • Details make you sound smart. Details make you sound like an author.

  • 10 pt details vs. 50 pt details - Don't use easy words.

  • "Big" is an easy word. “Enormous” makes you sound like an author.

  • When you feel shy say, “I can be brave.”

  • Don’t write “One day” or “One time” - What day was it? What time of day was it?

  • Put names on everything. What kind of dog, car, flower, etc. Don't just say "mom." Instead say "my mom Nancy."
  • Use colors but don’t say light or dark. That's too easy.

  • Use size words but don't say small or big. Use smarter words.

  • The most important part of writing is revising.

  • Revising makes you sound smarter.

  • Pretend your story is a video game. Pick up your controller. Go back to the first sentence. When you revise, you go to level two.

  • Details make your writing sound like this (raise arm high in the air, touch fingers to thumb several times, and say "ding, ding, ding, ding, ding"). Easy words make your writing sound like this (lower arm, open up fingers in the hand, and say "wah-wah).

I've seen Gary Hogg three times now. He does an excellent job of sharing his love of books, writing, and storytelling with students, teachers, and parents. I'd highly recommend a visit, and kids love his books. (I especially enjoy Spencer's Adventures.)

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  1. So many take aways from your author visit that I can use in my own room! I especially love using better word choices make you sound like an author and revising makes you sound like an author. Sounds like a great visit!

    1. Lori, it was a great visit for teachers and students. We needed a little pick-me up like that. :)

  2. Wish I could have an author teach my Writers Workshop time! Thanks for sharing those little nuggets of wisdom.

    1. Elizabeth, I was ready to let him permanently take over! I learned so much from him in 45 minutes.

  3. Tammy,
    I am going to write down everything in the list you just said! I think my favorite is enormous makes you sound like an author. I love the kid language too. Thanks for sharing! Happy Friday! Melissa

    1. Melissa, he really has a nice way of connecting with young authors and helping them think differently. It was fun to watch.

  4. Those are great tips! I'm saving, too:)

    1. Barb, glad you found them to be helpful as well!