Writing is a critical skill that is used in everyday life, and an important tool in developing deep thinking and communication skills, and helping students process what they are learning. Taking some time out of your day in the classroom and encouraging students to write is not only a great way to develop these skills, but it’s also a lot of fun! With this in mind, we created the Jacaranda Writing Competition.

This competition offers teachers and students the chance to have their work published in our new Year 7 Jacaranda textbook! Whether you’re interested in fiction, nonfiction, poetry or prose, the Jacaranda Writing Competition is a great way to inspire and encourage students of Years 7-12 to get writing.

To give teachers some ideas for how they can encourage writing in the classroom, we asked Leon Furze, an author of our upcoming Jacaranda English 7 title (featured to the right), to share some ways you can use the writing competition with your students.

About Leon:

Leon Furze has been a teacher of 7-12 English and VCE Literature and Media for over a decade. Working at Monivae College in Western Victoria, he has held a number of roles including Director of Studies, Head of English, and Year Level Coordinator.

Leon is also one of the authors for the brand-new upcoming Jacaranda English 7 title.

Before we get into the different ways you can use the writing competition in the classroom, the first step is getting students excited about writing, so we asked Leon for his advice. Here’s what he had to say:

“As a teacher myself, I’m often faced with a room full of blank faces (or more recently, a grid-view of glitchy, muted faces) when I start talking about writing. We follow a clear process of modelling, and once students see that writing is a skill like any other, and not some mystical dark art, they often get into it much more enthusiastically.

Remember: writing is a craft, and like any craft the parts can be broken down, taught, and remixed to suit the task. Whether it’s creative writing, nonfiction, or something which straddles both, all students can be shown a pathway through writing which will enable them to produce something they are proud of.”

So your students are excited and ready to start writing – what next? Here are Leon’s top three ideas for using the Jacaranda Writing Competition with your students:

Idea 1: Start the class with a round of quick writes

“Looking for ways to use the competition, but short on time in class? With all of the time spent away from school this term, it’s likely that you’ll be under the pump getting through your normal curriculum and back on track. Instead of using the Jacaranda Writing Competition for a whole lesson, consider using it at the start for a 10 minute quick-write. At the start of each lesson students could choose one of the writing forms – fiction, nonfiction, poetry – and write for a solid 10 minutes. These warm up exercises don’t need to be assessed, and offer students a ways to get their creative juices flowing before moving on to your usual curriculum activities.”

Idea 2: Start a writers’ club

“There are probably already students in your class who would love to write, but don’t know where to start. Or maybe you have students who already write but have no idea what to do with their writing. A writers’ club could be the answer, giving students the ability to talk about their work with their teachers and peers outside of the boundaries of the day-to-day classroom. Writers’ clubs can be organised during or after school, at lunch times, or even remotely. Whether your students have returned to school or not, a writers’ club offers the opportunity to connect with like-minded people and be creative.

An effective writers’ club should have a goal, and the Jacaranda Writing Competition could provide the perfect target. Get students (and teachers) to submit some of their draft work or ideas and share them around. Encourage giving and receiving feedback and guide the conversations towards a polished final product that is ready for submission. If you’re holding a writers’ club remotely, consider using online tools to collaborate on documents, with students and teachers commenting on and editing each other’s work.”

Idea 3: Align it to the curriculum

“Whether your students are onsite or still remote learning, the majority of their schoolwork will still be aligned to the curriculum. Consider weaving the Jacaranda Writing Competition into your curriculum to provide a real, tangible goal for students to aim towards. Students perform better when the work they are doing has some sort of connection to the real world and offering them the possibility of being published could be a fantastic way to engage them.

If you are currently studying a particular text, why not take the themes and ideas and use them as prompts for writing poetry? Or maybe your unit on persuasive language could benefit from a purposeful, real-world essay. With such as wide variety of forms eligible for the competition, students can produce a range of exciting texts. Consider how one of the following might work as an outcome for your current Year 7-12 units:

Bonus teacher idea: Do it yourself!

“Remember that this competition is not just open to students: teachers also have the opportunity to enter and to get published in the forthcoming Year 7 textbook. Consider having a competition within your faculty to encourage some collaboration, or perhaps have teachers at a certain year level work with one another to craft their own texts related to what they are currently teaching.

Modelling writing is also an extremely important part of the teaching process, and what better way to model writing than have teachers producing their own fiction and nonfiction, and sharing it with the students? When you take the students through the act of writing from start to finish, with all the ups, downs, and writer’s blocks along the way, they’ll come out of the other side with a much greater appreciation of the process.”

Thank you to Leon for taking the time to share your fantastic ideas on using the competition as a classroom activity. We hope you are inspired, and use some in your own classroom!

So what are you waiting for? Share this competition with your students and don’t forget to submit your own teacher entry here!

A new Jacaranda English 7 title is coming for 2021!

This brand-new WRITEABLE TEXTBOOK is suitable for all curricula and has been built from the ground up using feedback from Australian teachers of English.