Heather Blakey in the Classrooms

Heather Blakey is a secondary school teacher at La Trobe Secondary College who specializes in teaching students to write. Heather's work at Keon Park in Grades 5 and 6 is an excellent example of the work that can be done to assist children to bridge the gap between primary and secondary school. Much is being said of late in education circles in regards to the learning of children in the "middle years" of schooling - there is a recognize concern for the degree of student 'engagement' in their studies at this time of their lives. Our students are being given the opportunity to experience working under the direction of a secondary teacher who is 'gifted' in the ability to motivate students to write. The work that we are seeing our students produce under Heather's and our classroom teacher's guidance is highly commendable.

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Heather Blakey can be reached at soulfoodcafe atdailywriting.net

Writing Passport Program

"One writer's treasure chest of writing tips and creativity boosters" The writing passport program is a treasure box for staff and students alike

9/2/2000

Dear Heather,

I would like to acknowledge and thank you once again for the input you have given to our writing program and the self esteem of our children at Haig Street Primary School during 1999.

Your involvement over the whole year and your obvious love and gift for teaching writing resulted in a much imroved program at our school. Most of your ideas and techniques have been followed by our own teachers. I am particularly keen to implement your process for linking writing to our Internet and computer facilities and will personally follow that up this year.

I know of children in our two grade5/6 classrooms who had little success with or enthusiasm for writing before your sessions. They can now produce work of which they are proud and have a changed attitude towards themselves as a result. The work of our more competent writers has also been taken to a new level.

Your regular sessions were looked forward to by all concerned and work produced was of a high standard. As principal I am naturally delighted by your input for the children involved, but also for the effect it has had on teaching strategies at Haig Steet Primary.

Once again thanks, Heather from all at Haig Street.

Yours faithfully

Carol Watt
Principal

The writing sessions have been conducted for half an hour weekly since the beginning of 1999.

At first the children would make the comment "I don't know what to write". It wasn't long before they were sitting at the table writing furiously, not wanting to stop when they were asked to put their pens down. Often there would be children who would quietly pick up their pen to write that last idea quickly down in their books.

The children have enjoyed the variety of topics which they have been exposed to. As each session begins with an introduction, creating the scene for their next piece of writing, it has been most rewarding to see those children who often struggled with getting words down on paper beginning to write without hesitation.

I feel that the strong emphasis that 'It doesn't matter what you write, it cannot be wrong' has allowed the childeren to feel free and easy with their writing. The importance of these sessions is getting words on paper and I can safely say that all children do this now with a lot of enthusiasm.

The capable students will always write and do not seem to have trouble getting their thoughts on paper and naturally these sessions have given them the opportunity to write some great pieces of work.

But it is the the struggling children, I have noticed, who get the greatest benefit. These children were always the ones who approached writing with a negative, defeated attitude most of the time. Now they write without thinking about not being able to do it and the most pleasing aspect is that they want to share their thoughts with everyone else. Before these sessions they would be the ones hiding, not wanting to share any written work at all.

A great benefit from these writing sessions has been experienced by all in Room 21. This includes me as well. As a teacher you often spend your time instructing and never really completing any writing pieces as such. I have thoroughly enjoyed these session as it has given me the opportunity to express myself freely. I feel that the children have gained by watching me participate. They often wanted to hear what I had written and it was great for them to see me writing and doing exactly the same as what they were expected to do.

I have nothing but high praise for these most beneficial sessions.

Grade Six Staff Member
Keon Park Primary School

 

I have been a part of Heather Blakey's writing program for eighteen months and in that time the children and myself have experienced a wide range of motivational techniques. Heather's love of writing and her ability to engage the children in these experiences has enabled many children to view themselves as writers, and have a desire to write. Many are no longer hesitant when beginning to write and are able to create detailed and varied pieces. They are thrilled at their own success and keen to share their responses with others

The breaking down of these barriers has enabled children to be in control of what and how they write.

All children look forward to Heather's visits and the new ideas she has to share. The children are also very keen to show what they have done or written since their last meeting


Grade Six Staff Member
Keon Park Primary School

22 June 1999

Dear Heather,

I wish to thank you for your wonderful efforts with grade five six children at this school over the past two years.

I must say, that when you first approached me, I wondered what motive you had, and what there was really in it for our children.

I now realise that your motive was one of love of seeing children use the English language in ways that creatively outstrip anything that they (or their teachers) thought possible.

The work that you have done has been enjoyed by the children and appreciated by the staff. You would be pleased to know that it is not unusual to see teachers using methods and ideas taken from your sessions. It has, as a result been useful professional development for the teaching staff, as well as enormously beneficial to the children.

You have a unique style that motivates people to want to involve themselves in their writing. Your commitment to your methods of teaching is commendable.

I have been most impressed with the work produced by the children.

I believe that you have a gift in how you are able to inspire. I thank you for sharing with Haig Street Primary School.

Yours faithfully

Don Crowe (Principal)