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Top tips for captivating students with great literacy activities

Feb 1, 2018 | Author Chat

You need to get inside students’ heads to create learning activities that captivate them, says top-selling Journal Journeys author Marie Langley.

With nearly 90 titles to her name, Marie is one of Essential Resources’ most successful and prolific authors.

Many of her titles are part of the Journal Journeys series—best-selling educational resources that link hands-on learning activities to the content of the Ministry of Education’s long-running Junior Journals and School Journals series.

Marie began writing educational support materials for Essential Resources in 2003, soon after the company was established.

It’s a unique creative challenge to tease out practical learning activities that build students’ cross-curricular skills and strengthen their abilities to think for themselves. It starts with getting your head in the right space, Marie says.

“I read the journal I’m working on, absorbing the level and approach it takes, and try to get in sync with that. Journal Journeys is about making sure there is a good cross-section of activities with wide appeal across many interests and abilities.”

While the activities Marie creates centre on literacy skills, they also cover a wide range of other skills across the curriculum and cater to diverse learning styles.

Most of her ideas come from subjects she is personally connected to—such as the natural environment, biking and music. Above all, it’s the creative aspect she enjoys, whether that involves generating an initial idea for an activity or taking it further to extend students’ thinking and learning.

She prefers open-ended questions over ‘right or wrong ‘answers too.

“I like the opportunity for kids to be extended or to get involved at their own level. It’s about encouraging thinking, expanding knowledge and getting kids interested in the world around them. That’s what inspires me.”

This year Essential Resources is celebrating 15 years of publishing resources that support the work of teachers and schools. View or purchase Marie’s latest Journal Journeys books to follow up on learning from the 2017 Junior and School Journals.

About Marie: Marie Langley’s experience in education includes 19 years’ teaching in secondary and area (Years 1 to 13) schools, during which she spent 10 years as head of an English department and seven years as a deputy principal. Her published works include a thesis for a Master of Teaching and Learning degree, magazine articles, short stories, poetry, picture books, a junior novel and numerous educational resource texts. She currently lives and works in Golden Bay in the top north-west corner of the South Island of New Zealand. When she’s not writing at home, you may find Marie helping to run the family’s cycle shop in the main street of Takaka.


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