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Writing Territories - Gathering Ideas

Page history last edited by Janet Chow 13 years, 2 months ago

Getting Started


Writing Territories (from Nancie Atwell - Lessons that Change Writers) can be anything in our lives that include a wealth of story ideas.  This can range from family, events, achievements, wishes & dreams, passionate ideas, places, fears, or songs. Things that are real (meaning they come alive) hold more possibilities for richer writing than those one time stories. These starting points can be added to the list throughout the year.



(Use a 'visual anchor' that students will have access like a wiki page, google docs page, large chart paper...) 

Model a list of your own writing territories. Invite students to include them on their list if it rings a bell as part of their repertoire as a writer or something they may wish to try.  As you verbalize and record your brainstorm, be sure to expand your telling of some details in each of the bullets. 


For example, 

  My Writing Territories
  • new technologies - how they impact on learning
  • the heron that swoops into our pond to gobble up our fish - beautiful but the poor fish!
  • summer addiction to old movies 
  • my family's antics
  • painting with watercolour or on pottery - swirls, interconnection of colours
  • traveling to far off places 
  • my new little garden - still not sure what are plants and what are weeds
  • coffee - anytime, anywhere
  • cruises and whitewater rafting  
  • searching for the perfect pen
  • friendships
  • connection to my camera and photography
  • hobbies - this changes with each month or a new experience


Once you've finished showing, writing and telling, have students continue adding to their lists for 10 minutes. Concentrate on ideas for topics and go for quantity. 

Partner up with 2 other writers.  Do a walk and talk or a 'gossip' (get out of your desks). Take turns sharing your lists.  If you're inspired by an idea that you heard, add to your list.  If someone knows you well and reminds you of an event that you forgot, add that if you liked it. (This is the reason you are sharing - to expand your list.)

Now you have a variety of things to write about - much better than having to look at a blank page every time and trying to come up with something on the spot. 


From time to time, have students add their list of Writing Territories so you always have a fresh supply.  The ideas will change as the year progresses. 



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