Your Story is Our Story – Junior Years Student Perspective

YEAR THREE PERSPECTIVE

By Laila Pardo, Year 6.

During the last few weeks we have been working with Australian author, Dee White, learning how authors create their stories.

The Yarrawonga College P-12 Editorial Committee interviewed students in the junior years and asked them about their experiences during the Your Story is Our Story Project.

We have gone around to a few classes interviewing year 3 students about their experience working with Dee. 

The first question I asked was what have you learnt?

Ava said she learnt how to write a proper story, and Sam learnt how to put proper language into his writing piece. The others also said they have learnt how to use their punctuation in the right way. 

All the students I spoke to would have liked it to have Dee come in a lot more. Some of the people I spoke to have said that Dee White has made a huge impact on them. They said that they have started to like writing more than they used to. 

Dee really likes to come in and help us with our writing piece. 

Personally, I think it was pretty fun to have a great author to help us with our own writing piece.

The Editorial Committee hard at work on their stories

YEAR TWO PERSPECTIVE

By Grace Foran, Year 6

Last week I interviewed some year 2’s about working with author, Dee White.

Dee White has been working with students from Prep up to Year 8. While interviewing the year 2’s I learnt about how much they have been enjoying working with Dee!

A little bit about Dee: Dee White has written many books including, Letters to Leonardo, Beyond Belief and the year 2’s favourite Eddy Popcorn! Dee has been coming here for a few weeks and has been working with the students on story writing.

I interviewed six kids and found very positive feedback! Most of the kids said that they loved working with Dee and that their stories are coming along well. 

The Year 2’s are writing a realistic fiction story based on an event they experienced themselves. The kids have been making their own puppets and using them as characters for their stories. A few lucky kids even got to hold the Eddy Popcorn puppet! 

A lot of kids have been loving being creative and all the kids I interviewed only had positive things to say about Dee and her visits!

Stella and Hunter have both said that they have learnt more about creating their own characters. Taylah said that the sessions with Dee helped her get more ideas and Layken said Dee gave him lots of tips to write his story.

Overall the year 2’s found the experience enjoyable and are very proud of their stories.

YEAR THREE PERSPECTIVE

By Ava Cox, Year 6

During the last few weeks of term we have invited Dee White to help us improve our writing and write a realistic fiction piece with us. 

While she has been at our school, students have had the opportunity to write, edit and illustrate with Dee.

On Tuesday, week 8 some of the students from the Editorial Committee went over and interviewed some of the junior grades. My friend and I went over to the year three’s to interview them, here are some responses.

All of the girls I spoke to are enjoying writing very much and love it when Dee comes. Right now the year threes are learning to plan and write a realistic fiction story based on the character they put on a milk carton they made. On their milk cartons they have put some pictures of missing people or animals. 

Everyone I spoke to has started to enjoy writing more now that Dee has come to visit. 

We are all very grateful that Dee has come to work with us, we can’t thank her enough. It will be great to have a book full of stories and a school full of authors! 

YEAR ONE PERSPECTIVE

By Jackson White, Year 8

The year 1 students at Yarrawonga College were enthused about Dee White visiting them for the Your Story is Our Story project.

I got to interview of them last week and here are some of their responses. 

All of the year 1s found it amazing having Dee White, an Australian author, here at Yarrawonga College. And they all thought that writing their own stories was the best. 

Some students said that they love writing stories because they get to show their ideas. One said, ‘It’s fun to write about past experiences and what you did on the weekend.’

From stories based on a koala sleeping all day, to a magpie at the skatepark that crashes a lot, they all made funny fiction stories based on animals they can see or hear around them.

Some of the characters that came out of the students’ imaginations included Edie the Koala who loves to sleep, Kangy the kangaroo who loves to play in bushes, Ed the magpie who loves to skate, and Lizzy the koala who loves to play. 

They all can’t wait till they get their creative stories put into a book for each other to read.

Thanks to all the students from the Editorial Committee for their great pieces. It was so much fun working with you all.

Dee

Thanks to Creative Victoria and Creative Learning Partnerships for making this program possible.

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The Year 8 Perspective by Hadia Mirza and Grace Thackray

Yarrawonga College P-8 was privileged to experience four weeks with Dee White, an Australian author who has published more than 20 books. 

Dee has spent four weeks sharing tips on how she writes her stories and encouraging us with our writing.

The Your Story is Our Story project that brought Dee to our school was a one-off event that was supposed to happen in 2020 but due to covid-19 it could not go ahead. Luckily this year it took place.

Hadia and Grace

On 10 of June 2021, Hadia Mirza and Grace Thackray finally got the opportunity to interview some people about the Dee White project. We wanted to see what students thought of this new experience. Here are the responses of the year eight students. 

Most students rated this project highly, scoring it between 6-10 stars. Some students, if they could, would want to change the amount of time put towards the project and would love to work with Dee longer. Some people said that this project really affected their opinion on writing. In the Year Eight grade, students are writing all kinds of stories from drama to action. 

This project not only helped people develop their writing skills but also other talents they could put into creating a story. Students look forward to having better writing skills at the end of this project. 

Dee said, “I have loved working on the project. It’s great to see how enthusiastic you all are.” 

She also said how much she loved the students’ ideas. 

We are all so lucky to have had this experience. Thanks to all the students who contributed to our research, and thanks to Dee for helping us. 

Hadia and Grace

Writing is Tough by Daniel O’Connor – Year 6

As part of the Your Story is Our Story project, some students wrote about their experiences working with me in the classroom to help them create their stories. This piece is by Daniel in Year 6.

Writing is tough – even writing funny books, skinny books, picture books, thick books, serious books, kid’s books. Yet lots and lots of people say that when they have time they’ll write a book.

They usually aren’t so fortunate as to have author, Dee White to help them get their stories to publication.

Over the past 4 weeks, students including myself have been given the holy chance to not only work with an excellent author but actually get the opportunity to have our stories published in a full length book combining all of the year sixes and many other grade’s narratives into an illustrated book properly published and everything a kids dream right? I mean… it was always mine at least.

Writing a book usually means the agony of waiting, waiting, waiting for a publisher. Publishers take forever to look at the book. If you’re a new author waiting a year to get a response is nothing, that is if they even look at it. Then it’s often rejected. If you’re a published author it is quicker, easier, but it doesn’t mean guaranteed acceptance of publication.

When looking for a publisher, Dee suggests that you look at other books with the topic you’re writing about then see who published it or supported the idea, and try to get in contact with them. That is exactly what Dee White did with (for example) her best-selling novel: Beyond Belief which is honestly my favourite, closely followed by Eddy Popcorn (Guide to Parent Training & Guide to Teacher Taming.)

Dee is a very calm, relaxed, inspirational and supportive author, who has supported me through many narrative changes, edits etc and for once I’m not dried out of ideas after her lessons. Each lesson gets me more and more ideas.

 I think my favourite part of her visit(s) is teaching me how to come up with my own ideas. For a realistic example, when I was formerly asked to write, I usually would write a story word for word based on a movie or with slight adjustments, but with Dee I feel more confident and self love for my own ideas and much more. Even after her visits are finally up I still have 2 slim books to teach me a lot about original content, narratives and how to make ideas. I always used to struggle to add more to my brainstorm sheet which I keep in my writing folder but ever since Dee’s 1ST VISIT I have added more than 10!

On the behalf of year 6 and all the other grades we would like to thank you Dee White for all you have done for us and how inspiring and supportive you are to our ideas I think more than the whole year 6 can say: We want you as a permanent writing teacher for real. Thank you again Dee you have no idea what you have really done for us.

Author in residence Day 18 – Your Story is Our Story

So exciting to spend time in Year 4 today.

Many of them have finished the first drafts of their amazing stories inspired by their ‘Missing’ milk carton characters.

We took a photo with the Year 4 students to go in the back of their anthology

Such great imaginations. Their characters went missing on kayaks, from cars and in all sorts of locations and circumstances.

They had some very creative solutions to help their characters find their way home.

We also talked about how hard story endings are to write, and how to make them interesting and satisfying for readers.

Discussing story endings

Many students were using their thesaurus to find more interesting words to use in their stories.

Some of them have been illustrating their stories as they write them.

I worked with my final group of Year 8 students on the Your Story is Our Story project.

With Year 8’s we also looked at creative ways to end stories and went through steps that authors use when revising their stories.

After school, enthusiastic young readers and writers came to pay for pre-ordered books and get them signed.

Dee

Thanks to Creative Victoria and Creative Learning Partnerships for making this program possible.

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Author in residence Day 17 – Your Story is Our Story

Today I met with a very enthusiastic and talented extension group of Year 5 writers to talk about the life of an author, the publishing industry and writing in general.

Students also worked on a piece for the upcoming Write Around the Murray writing competition open to students in Years 3-12. More details can be found here

I worked with Year 7 and 8 students on story endings and self-editing, and how to work through those times in your story when you’re not sure what to write next.

We talked about mini plotting a scene to help you work out what to write, and also different ways to overcome writer’s block.

We also discussed the design and formatting of the anthologies where students will have their work published.

It’s so inspiring to see students being creative and getting immersed in their stories.

Dee

Thanks to Creative Victoria and Creative Learning Partnerships for making this program possible.

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Author in residence Day 16 – Your Story is Our Story

Day 16 started with the Year 3 students, and Eddy and I were feeling a bit sad to be spending our second last day at the P-4 campus.

Students had some fabulous story beginnings, and we talked about the essential elements of a great story.

I can’t wait to read their stories.


I had three sessions with students in Years 7 and 8 and we talked about how difficult endings are to write and shared some tips on how to think of a great finish to a story.

We also talked about the revision process and how long it can take a book to get published from the original idea to see the book on shelves.

Students worked enthusiastically on their stories and we also discussed how it’s okay to write new story beginning if you’re not happy with the one you have, and how the beginning of a story can change depending on what happens in the middle and end.

Years 3-8 Writer’s Club met at lunchtime. Students shared some great stories with the group and we talked about the Write Around the Murray writing competition open to students in Years 3-12. More details can be found here.

An inspiring and productive start to my final week working with students at Yarrawonga College P-12.

Dee

Thanks to Creative Victoria and Creative Learning Partnerships for making this program possible.

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Author in residence Day 14 – Your Story is Our Story

The day started with a year 6 extension group of very keen and talented writers. We talked about overcoming writer’s block and they worked on pieces for the Write Around the Murray short story and poetry awards.

Then we created a puppet super story with Prep students.

Afterwards they did story telling in pairs, using their puppets to tell each other what their story was about. The aim was to help them get their story straight in their heads before attempting to write it.

Preps had lots of fun with this activity and their stories were amazing.

Next session was with Year 1 students. We worked on making stories better. We looked at the group story that was written last session and looked at ways to improve vocabulary, add more action to theirs stories and use correct grammar and punctuation.

The students worked on revising and developing the stories they had already written.

In Year 4 we focussed on ‘Show don’t tell’ and adding character’s actions, feelings and body language to make dialogue more active and interesting. We used examples from Eddy Popcorn’s Guide to Teacher Taming.

Last session of the day was working with the final group of Year 8 students on story beginnings with tips on where and how to start their stories. Students came up with some compelling starts to their stories, and I can’t wait to read more.

Loved spending time with these inspiring students and working with them on their stories.

Dee

Thanks to Creative Victoria and Creative Learning Partnerships for making this program possible.

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Author in residence Day 13 – Your Story is Our Story

Today I worked with Year 7 and 8 students and we worked on story beginnings and how to hook the reader in.

We talked about how to help the reader connect with your character and make them care about them.

We also looked at using character’s action in their setting and raising questions for the reader to make them want to read on.

Students story ideas have been so creative and original and they were keen to begin their stories.

To help them work out where to start, we discussed ten different ways that students could open their stories.

  1. With a question
  2. With an image
  3. Using something unexpected.
  4. WIth action – showing characters doing something interesting
  5. Appealing to reader’s curiosity
  6. Presenting something unique about the character
  7. Showing the character doing something they are good at
  8. A character’s vulnerability
  9. Strong character voice
  10. Revealing the character’s goal

We used books to show how published authors including Nova Weetman, Penny Tangey and Felice Arena start their stories.

Year 7 and 8 students made great progress with their stories today.

Our Editorial and Marketing Committee also met. Members had interviewed students from other year levels about their experiences of the Your Story is Our Story project. They’ll be reporting on their findings soon.

Another busy, fun day at Yarrawonga College.

Dee

Thanks to Creative Victoria and Creative Learning Partnerships for making this program possible.

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Author in residence Day 12 – Your Story is Our Story

Year 3 students have done an amazing job making milk cartons with information about the ‘missing’ characters in their stories. In the 1980s, advertisements on milk cartons were used to help locate missing children so the cartons are based on this concept.

Constructing the cartons has been part of their geometry studies and they’ve used their creativity to create fantastic designs and characters on their milk cartons.

Today we talked about how they could put their ‘missing characters’ into their stories.

Students in Years 7 and 8 had developed their characters and settings and today’s session was about identifying their character’s main story problems and planning their stories.

We also looked at story beginnings.

At lunch time I held a Writer’s Workshop for students in Years 3-8 and some very talented and dedicated writers came along and we talked about starting a regular writer’s group for them moving forward.

One of the enthusiastic writers at today’s Writer’s Workshop read out his intriguing story set in WW11

I’m so inspired by the amazing story ideas and characters that students have developed across all Year levels at Yarrawonga College P-12.

Dee

Thanks to Creative Victoria and Creative Learning Partnerships for making this program possible.

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Author in residence Day 11 – Your Story is Our Story

Students in Years 5 and 6 have developed some amazing characters for their stories and today we worked on getting those characters into trouble to create lots of action in their stories.

Students identified their character’s worst fear and brainstormed ideas about how to bring that fear into their stories to create conflict. We also worked on giving characters a problem that gets worse and worse through the course of the story.

Year 4 students had lots of questions for me about Eddy and how I created him and we worked on creating a whole new Eddy adventure where Chewy rabbit gets lost. They had many fabulous scenarios for what might have happened to him.

Students had also created fabulous milk cartons for their missing characters and they had some great ideas about why their characters might have gone missing and what happens next in their story.

In the last session, I worked with a talented group of writers and illustrators who have volunteered to be the editorial committee to design and produce the anthologies for years 4-8 as well as other publicity materials.

Some members of our editorial and marketing committee hard at work.

The day finished with a staff PD for Years 3 and 4 which involved how to engage reluctant and able writers.

Another fabulous day.

Dee

Thanks to Creative Victoria and Creative Learning Partnerships for making this program possible.