Elaine Forrestal

New Workshops

Elaine Forrestal conducting a writing workshop with Year 9 students.

It’s NAPLAN time again and writing workshops are all the go.

While I’m sure NAPLAN has its uses, I think the expectation that students will write any sort of narrative in twenty minutes, without the opportunity to re-draft, is ridiculous. Nevertheless, while NAPLAN is a fact of life, we need to give our students their best chance of doing well. The usual strategy is to give them practise at writing narrative. But they also need to go into the test with a firm idea in their head about which of their many stories they will spend that precious twenty minutes writing. They need to have the basic plot worked out, and to already be familiar with their characters – who does what? when? and why? They also need to be aware of the most common destroyers of good narrative. Too many characters, too much irrelevant detail and, while a few adjectives are a good thing, too many of them are poisonous. They can kill off a good narrative faster than almost anything else.

I always feel distressed when I think about how much importance is attached to such an unrealistic test. But that’s the reality we have to live with, so i am busily developing two new workshop outlines to add to the list in ‘Pages’ on this site.

Keep watching this space.