Writing Teachers Newcastle – maintaining a community of practice


The second meeting for Writing Teachers Newcastle was held in the Curriculum Resource Centre of the Huxley Library at the University of Newcastle. Inspired by and post on the ETA facebook page asking which books inspired our childhood reading, and drawing on the library setting, I created an activity to develop our own bookshelf.

before: bare bookshelf awaiting titles

With blank book spines and markers in hand, we roamed the stacks and noted interesting titles that captured our attention and imagination.

wandering the stacks

Returning to our workspace, we lined up the spines on our imaginary shelf and spoke of our choices. The ambiguity was beguiling. We then took a handful of post-its and wrote a sentence on each that expressed a reading moment or memory, without identifying a specific title. We then had an opportunity to place each post-it near a book, or anywhere on the shelf.

after: our shelf of inspiration

After a brief discussion and few giggles, we chose two of three titles and tales, we began with words – listing then sharing – then settled down for a solid thirty minutes of writing. This focus on shaping a specific piece of writing contrasts with the emphasis on free writing utilised in the inaugural meetings.

I was disappointed with my first choice and draft – It Was Like a Fever that lead into an inevitable literal interpretation of illness, and so began a deliberately lighter piece working from the title The Pursuit of Wonder  and memory

three brothers ran away from home to live in the woods … introduced the idea that family & society was something to escape from

Although this piece felt to me to be simplistic and somewhat cliche, I was heartened by the comments from the group. Connections to Stand by Me and Stranger Things, together with the notion of three clearly different characters who could clearly lead into a deeper exploration of personality had me thinking of working further on this opening.

This very productive meeting has begun developing personal connections through the generosity of sharing our understanding of writing by actively participating in an individual process.

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