The value of handwriting Research suggests handwriting increases brain activity, hones fine motor skills, and can predict a child's academic success in ways that keyboarding can't. That might be because putting ink to paper stimulates the Reticular Activating System, or the RAS. “The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you're actively focusing on that moment — something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront.”
Results In children who had practiced writing by hand, the neural activity was far more enhanced and "adult-like" than in those who had simply looked at letters or typed them out. "It seems there is something really important about manually manipulating and drawing out two-dimensional things we see all the time," says Karin Harman James, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Indiana University who led the study.
Writing, reflecting, storytelling, creating A second task: 5-minute journaling – Don’t lift your hand from the paper – Don’t edit – Don’t stop – Don’t question what you’re writing NO-ONE WILL HAVE TO SHARE SOMETHING THEY DON’T WANT TO
Something I feel I have learned Some thought-provoking incident or question A memory or image from the workshop
My ongoing project Exploring the role of creative writing (and the writer) in marine conservation education and animal protection
The idea and theory That having people create stories and narrative around marine conservation and marine animal protection will lead to improved learning and an increase in pro-environmental behaviour, such as reducing pollution, contributions to marine conservation activities “According to Uri Hasson from Princeton, “a story is the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience.”
Let’s write some poems [Line 1: Self and Earth] [Line 2: one thing from elements] [Line 3: one thing from animal kingdom] [Line 4: choose from elsewhere, plus any associations, memories, feelings that fit] [Line 5: self and/or sea]
Some humpback Lunes Word store The lune is also known as the American Haiku. It was first created by the poet Robert Kelly. He settled on a 13-syllable, self-contained poem that has: 5 syllables in the first line, 3 syllables in the second line 5 syllable in the final line trees never wander but still spread across open fields
Point to ponder and discuss On using narrative-based learning… “The study found that students do exhibit learning gains, that those gains are less than those produced by traditional instructional approaches, but that the motivational benefits of narrative-centered learning with regard to self-efficacy, presence, interest, and perception of control are substantial.” McQuiggan et al (2008), ‘Story-based Learning: The Impact of Narrative on Learning Experiences and Outcomes’, online
How you could include creative or reflective writing in your class 1.Five minute journaling activity is the prompt, but 3 ‘guides’ at instantiation, 1- minute and 3-minutes Lead to final selection in class near end of programme from journal themes for longer 20-minute narrative writing, 3 ‘guiding’ prompts at instantiation, 7- and 14-minutes into exercise Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg Towndrow, P. & Ling, T. A. (2008) Promoting Inquiry Through Science Reflective Journal Writing, Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 4(3), 279-283
How you could include creative or reflective writing in your class 2. Creative Writing Exercises Leave time at the end of your activity for exercise Lead reflective discussion on the practice – Lead with key learning factors Give relevant examples, e.g. poems or short stories – Read through, explore two arcs: » Plot arc (what happens) » Emotional arc (what changes) Give students the choice of form: – Poem, story, journal, newspaper story – Take one key issue they want to write about – Choose key elements » CHARACTER, STORY ROLLERCOASTER, POINT OF VIEW
Two Minute Brainstorm What could we do with Ocean Acidification?
Outcome? “Alex’s creative writing workshops have been a fantastic addition to the Your Seas outreach programme. The children we worked with have learnt a huge amount about turning their experiences into various styles of writing. The process of creating a piece of writing allowed the children to really think, very honestly, about what they have experienced on our whale and dolphin watching trips and connect to the experience in a much stronger way. I have no doubt the workshops have increased the impact of my work on these children. By asking the groups to write from the perspective of the animals, after spending time in their environment, helped all the children to make important links between their actions and the marine environment/animals. Most importantly the workshops are fun and lively and the children clearly loved it! Ripping up magazines, making story boards and even reading out their work; they embraced it all fully! It was brilliant to watch such young children engage so thoroughly in a writing task! I will be incorporating this workshop into all of my future project work with schools.”
Resources Sandford Lyne, River of Words St Mary’s College of California, Center for Environmental Literacy http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/center-for-environmental-literacy/river-of-words Columbia Teaching Creative Writing www.columbia.edu/cu/tat/pdfs/creative_writing.pdf The Periodic Table, Primo Levi ‘Dolphins’, Carol Ann Duffy Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg Towndrow, P. & Ling, T. A. (2008) Promoting Inquiry Through Science Reflective Journal Writing, Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 4(3), 279-283
Old men ought to be explorers, Here and there does not matter. We must be still and still moving Into another intensity. For a further union, a deeper communion Through the dark cold and the empty desolation, The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning. - TS Eliot, Four Quartets
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