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How Teachers Are Using the Prompt App and the Writing Prompts

The #TeachMeet2018 had a special guest, author and educationist Penelope Leach, who spoke about her new book The Accidental Teacher, which explores the power of writing in the classroom, and How to Develop a Classroom Writing Centre, which shares her tried and tested methods for getting the most out of your school’s writing centre.

Penelope Leach’s New Book

Published in April 2018, The Accidental Teacher is Leach’s follow up to The Language of Life, her 2017 bestseller about language learning and teachers who use writing to inspire their students.

We were lucky enough to be invited to an advance reading of the book, and asked Leach a few questions about it. Here’s what she said:

What Inspired You to Write This Book?

Many teachers will tell you that they always wanted to write a book, but didn’t find the time. My experience was the complete opposite; I found the time and didn’t want to write a book. It is because I love language and teaching, and especially using writing in the classroom that I wrote this book. I wanted to create a resource teachers could turn to, as writing is something we always need, whether we’re teaching a child or an adult.

What Will Make This Book Different From Other Books On The Market?

There are many great tips and tricks for teachers wanting to write a book. However, most of the tips and tricks come with a time commitment, which teachers, in my opinion, shouldn’t have to make. That is why I decided to create a book full of activities that teachers could do with their students, without needing to be writers themselves.

What really sets this book apart from others is that it is filled with stories from my own experience as a teacher. I wrote The Accidental Teacher because I want to support and inspire teachers just like me who want to bring the power of writing into their classroom. If you’re a teacher who feels like they don’t have time to write, this is the book for you.

Bringing The Power Of Writing Into The Classroom

In The Accidental Teacher, Leach talks about how important it is to find the ‘right’ tool for the job. In the same way, a carpenter doesn’t use a drill to fix a hole in a piece of wood, nor does a baker use a mixer to mix dough. Both rely on the tool they choose, and find it suited to the task at hand.

One of the things Leach stresses is how different types of writing require different techniques, and how one size never fits all when it comes to the language teachers use. In The Language of Life, Leach shared how important it is to discover a style that feels comfortable to you as a writer, and that can suit your audience. However, she also warned that if you choose a style that is too formal, students may think you’re being arrogant. They may even think you don’t know how to write in the first place!

For the most part, students respond well to teachers who know how to write, and who use it as a tool to make connections with the texts they teach. In order to inspire your students, you may need to take a look at how you communicate, and where you find the ‘hooks’ that grab your reader’s attention. It is never easy to write something that someone else has already written, especially if you’re not a professional writer, but it’s important to keep in mind that this is what makes your work unique and powerful. Leach reminds us that one of the best things that can happen to a writer is when a reader connects with a small part of themselves, and feels that it is their own story being told, because the authors understand something about them that they didn’t know themselves.

The Importance Of The Writing Process

When you write something, you’re not always sure how readers will react to it. This is why it’s important to go through a writing process, and revise your work many times, before you feel comfortable presenting it to the world. This goes for both non-fiction and fiction, and it’s important to remember that the best work is often the result of a lot of trial and error. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. However, this doesn’t mean that the result isn’t going to be good.

Bringing The Power Of The Internet Into The Classroom

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that the way we communicate has changed in recent years, and more and more students are accessing information online. This makes it much easier for students to find examples of good writing, and for teachers to find resources that can be utilised in the classroom. Although this is sometimes a good thing, it can also be a bad thing. Just as you wouldn’t want a carpenter using a drill to fix a piece of furniture, connecting students and teachers with valuable information online can lead to problems. Just like any other tool, the Internet has both advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to remember this when using it in the classroom.

Leach gives some sage advice on how to navigate the pitfalls of the Internet, and how to ensure that you’re not revealing any personal information that could put your job or your family in danger. In her opinion, teachers should never be the ones administering detention for students who get caught up in online fights or become entangled in cyberbullying. We can always take steps to ensure our safety online, but we can never fully protect ourselves from hackers and identity thieves, and this is what makes writing on the Internet such a dangerous activity.

Bringing The Power Of Twitter Into The Classroom

In addition to the written word, social media tools are frequently used in language learning, especially in the classroom. Many teachers will turn to Twitter to get ideas for their lessons, or to find someone who can provide an instant language boost to them and their class. Just as important, is the ability to connect with other teachers, and to find allies who can help you put your own teaching hat on, while also donning their educational ‘coat’.

One of the things that makes Twitter so useful for language teachers is the fact that it can be used for so many different purposes, and can be accessed by so many different people with so many different interests. If you can think of a topic, you can probably find someone on Twitter who has written about it, or who is currently studying it. You can use Twitter to follow important people in your field, to find teachers who can help you put your own spin on language learning, and to gain inspiration for your own work. However, like with any other social media tool, it’s important to remember that while Twitter may be a great way to find quick inspiration, it can also be a place where bullies and trolls hide. You must use your best judgement to make sure you’re utilizing Twitter in a productive way, and not let your guard down around your personal information.

The Power Of Blogging

Blogs are similar to Twitter in that they can be used for so many different things. They’re frequently used as extensions of websites, but some blogs are written entirely for ‘likes’ and ‘comments’. For whatever reason, people like reading blogs, and they often use them to find interesting articles to read. Some people even use blogs as a way to keep a personal diary, while others use them to share quick updates or advice for friends and family.

Since blogs can be used for so many different things, and can be accessed by so many different people, they’re frequently used in language learning. If you’re a teacher who wants to write about your experiences in the classroom, or who wants to develop a blog to use as a tool for self-reflection and professional development, there are a number of options out there. Just remember to find a style that works well for you as a writer, and make sure that your materials are of good quality.