From Jean Bennett

A reflective moment – writing, learning and life

Watching my Yr 4 grand-daughter, Sophie, compete in high jump on Athletics Day reminded me how many opportunities for writing there are with outdoor activities such as sports, school camps, water safety, wetlands and rocky shores excursions.

My daughter, who is a J1 teacher, was there to see Sophie’s first efforts but had to return to her class as the bar was raised higher and higher. So I texted to let her know each successful jump and how many competitors were left. My daughter used the mounting excitement to involve her class in a ‘breaking news’ exercise.


Online newspapers give a similar on-the-spot feel to events and offer a variety of ways to include students in commentary and writing activities. Here in the Bay of Plenty students have been researching and writing about the grounding of the ship Rena on the Astrolabe reef, the hazardous salvage work, the effects on marine life and local industries, and a host of related topics. Many young people have taken part in hands-on cleaning oil from the beaches and gained personal reward through making a positive difference to their environment.

By the way, Sophie came second! Her brother, Sam, had his Intermediate Athletics on the same day and achieved well too – he took part in every activity even though it wasn’t compulsory. Guess who often tells them to keep a journal.

Jean's new book is available on our website, where it can be previewed using our online viewer.

Jean Bennett is a highly successful author who has written 28 fiction and non-fiction books for young people, plus short stories, poetry, and journalism for adult readers. She enjoys tutoring writing workshops and helping students to develop their writing skills. Jean is a qualified librarian and adult educator. Her previous roles include information literacy lecturer and Newspapers-in-Education coordinator.
In her newly published teacher resource Write Well: Enjoyable, effective writing and research activities, Jean keenly seeks to garner ‘light-bulb’ moments and nurture ‘word wizardry’ in even the most reluctant of young writers (from aged 9 onwards).

In 2003, Jean was awarded the Storylines/Betty Gilderdale Award for outstanding services to New Zealand children's literature. The Storylines Betty Gilderdale Award honours Betty Gilderdale, a lifelong advocate and supporter of children’s literature who is widely acknowledged for her academic research and the promotion of quality literature for children. The Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand aims to promote public awareness of the importance of reading and literature for all children; ensure children in New Zealand have access to high quality literature; and support writers and illustrators of literature for children in New Zealand.

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