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Bernard Cohen's The Writing Workshop runs after-school, school holiday, online and in-school creative writing workshops and activities for children and young people. Published authors lead all our courses. (Click on the links for more information: after-school, school holiday, online and in-school.)

The Writing Workshop helps young writers build confidence,
take pride in work, develop creativity, improve literacy,
increase general braininess and have a lot of fun.

School holiday courses take place every school holidays at Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush Bay. September-October 2014 holidays: seven individual courses offered for young people from ages 5 to 15. Now Booking. Holiday workshop feedback.

After-school courses now run in Annandale, Haberfield, Leichhardt and Eastwood. Term 4, 2014 now booking. (Cammeray courses will return in 2015.)

Our online courses for ages 7-10 (new!) and 10 years and over welcome participants from anywhere in the world.

We offer in-school courses for Kindergarten to HSC throughout the Sydney metropolitan area and far beyond. Recent HSC creative writing course feedback.

High-quality, hands-on professional development courses for primary and secondary school teachers engage educators in the creative process and provide effective strategies and techniques within a quality teaching framework to motivate, develop and challenge young writers. Please follow this link for more information and recent course evaluations.

Enquiries: please phone 0468 543 933 or use this form.

Please join our email list to keep informed of the latest course information.

 

Statistics: TheWritingWorkshop's Ninth Year

Founded: May 2006. (Bernard Cohen ran the first workshop in a very small room at Annandale North Public School.) We ran our first holiday workshop at Sydney Olympic Park in October 2006.

Participants: Approximately 45,000 to date, aged from five years old to sitting Higher School Certificate candidates.

Website hits: Over 160,000.

Pieces read: We've read well over 250,000 pieces of imaginative writing by young people so far — surely this is a record!

Schools visited: We've worked in dozens of schools, libraries and community settings (as well as with home-schooled and other private groups) including in over twenty NSW DET Priority Schools*, in gifted and talented programs and in University of Western Sydney's Pathways to Dreaming (formerly Indigenous School Student Mentoring) Program. We love working in regional NSW and have worked at schools in Taree, Dubbo, Moree, and throughout the Hunter Valley and Central Coast.

Teacher Professional Development: We love working with teachers. We want to inspire you by sharing creative, imagination-based approaches to teaching writing across all genres. Expect immersive workshop settings - no lectures or Powerpoint involved. We've worked with hundreds of teachers throughout New South Wales and present professional development courses for infants, primary, high-school and specialist teachers. Our goal is to leave your school with strategies to make writing fun, exciting, engaging and valuable for students and teachers.

Venues: Our school holiday programs are at Kids in the Park (at Sydney Olympic Park), Sydney's largest school holiday program. We run regular after-school programs in Annandale, Haberfield, Leichhardt and Eastwood for years 1 to 12. Since 2013, we have presented co-curricular creative writing courses at Knox Grammar School. Online programs available for young people from seven years old.

Ratings: Parents, participants and teachers greatly approve. We rate consistently in the high 90s-100% for enjoyment, learning and satisfaction amongst participants. and three consecutive parent surveys rated us 100% for overall experience (conducted by Sydney Olympic Park Authority in 2012, 2013 and 2014).

Successes: Scroll up and down this page for news of prizes, scholarships and fabulous marks - but we're not a coaching college. We model creativity and imaginative processes. We never teach by rote and we think lecturing is nowhere near as useful as a hands-on workshop or a decent Socratic dialogue. We value it when parents say to us (as many, many have), "My child came home from your workshop and just kept writing." We want writing to be fun, relevant, empowering and useful.

Staff: All workshop leaders are published, professional writers - most have won prizes. Workshop leaders through 2013-14 have included Dr Bernard Cohen; Emily Maguire; Dr Ed Wright; Matt Buchanan; Brent Clough. We also run a peer leaders program for experienced participants in school year 9 and above - the aim is to provide useful and interesting work experience for our high school aged peer leaders and for them to ask as role models for our primary school participants.

We support: the Leukaemia Foundation (including via Bernard Cohen's annual headshave), the Children's Hospital at Westmead; and the Cambodian Children's Trust.

We sponsor: Sydney Youth Writing Competition; The Whitlam Institute's "What Matters?" writing competition; and school fundraisers at our after-school venues.

News: Congratulations to Emily Maguire, colleague and workshop leader, who has been awarded a 2014 residency at the Nancy Keesing Writers' Studio in Paris. Well deserved! Bernard Cohen received a 2014 Australia Council New Work grant to write his next novel.

News: Bernard Cohen's novel, The Antibiography of Robert F. Menzies, was published by 4th Estate in October 2013. With multiple points-of-view and footnotes, the novel is already being adopted by 2014 HSC students as an English Extension 1 related text for Module A: Life Writing and Module C: Textual Dynamics. Want to know more? Contact us.

News: Congratulations to Lily Edelstein, whose essay "Girl Talk" was published in Jane Caro's Destroying the Joint anthology (UQP 2013). Lily was the only school student included in the anthology, which also has contributions from Wendy Harmer, Senator Penny Wong, Tara Moss and Emily Maguire. Lily completed year 12 in 2013, and attended The Writing Workshop since we started in 2006. More news from Lily: congratulations again on becoming a regular contributor to Birdee Magazine. We are thrilled.

News: Congratulations to Seren, Sabrina, Gabriel, MacKenzie and Rebecca, whose ghost stories were professionally recorded and featured in The Performance Space's "Nightime: Twilight" held very spookily at St Stephen's Cemetery on 15th September 2012. Seren's piece was extracted for ABC Radio National's Books and Writing program.

News: Congratulations to Diya Pacheco for attaining the 2011 NSW HSC Top Achievers list in English (Advanced), finishing 6th in the state! Diya attended a number of courses including our first ever holiday program in 2006 and an HSC Belonging unit of studies creative writing course. She writes:

A significant portion of my HSC English studies, particularly the creative writing components, were influenced by what I had learnt in your classes some time before... Having written an extended short story for my Ext 2 English Major Work, the solid grounding in creative technique I learned from you was imperative. I must thank you for this, because were it not for your invigorating and challenging lessons, I would never have reached the creative standard I did, and I certainly would not have achieved the marks I did.

 

 

 

September—October 2014 holidays creative writing workshops - NOW BOOKING

Participant comment: "The best day I have had this year." Oliver, aged 8.

Parent comment: "Happy child, happy Mummy!" (Survey response from parent of 6-year-old).

 

Our holiday workshops take place in the Field Studies Tower at the Education Centre Tower in Bicentennial Park, Homebush Bay (within Sydney Olympic Park) as part of Sydney's largest school holiday program, Kids in the Park. Free parking is available at the venue (Carpark P10f).

You will find school holiday creative writing workshops suitable for ages 6-15 and for all skill levels. We're proud of our record in switching previously reluctant children onto the pleasures of writing and in helping ambitious young writers fulfil their literary ambitions. Please join our email list to keep informed of the latest course information.

News: The Writing Workshop receives 100% satisfaction rating. According to the most recent survey conducted by Sydney Olympic Park Authority (July 2014), 100 per cent of respondents were satisfied overall with The Writing Workshop course their child attended in the July 2014 school holiday program at Sydney Olympic Park. Read comments from previous survey respondents.

News: Congratulations to Lauren, Sydney Youth Writing Competition Writer of the Year 2012.

News: Congratulations to Brendon on winning the years 5-6 section of the 2014 University of Western Sydney Whitlam Institute "What Matters?" essay competition. Brendon attended after-school workshops from kindergarten to year 4. Read his amazing piece here.

September—October 2014 Holiday Workshop Timetable and Summary

  • Tuesday 23rd September 10am - 3.30pm for 8-13 year olds. "Persuasion and Advocacy" creative writing workshop. $132. One place left - please phone or email to confirm availability. Click here to book. Scroll down for details.
  • NEW Wednesday 24th September 10am - 3.30pm One-day “Skilled Young Writers: style and character” creative writing workshop for 10-15 year olds. $132. Three places remaining. Click here to book. Scroll down for details.
  • Sunday 28th September 10am - 3.30pm "Write Your Own Book" workshop for 8-13 year olds. $132. Two places left - please phone or email to confirm availability. Click here to book. Scroll down for details.
  • Monday 29th September - Wednesday 1st October 10am - 12 noon each day for 6-9 year olds. "Kids in the Park" creative writing workshop. $160. BOOKED OUT.
  • Monday 29th September - Wednesday 1st October Additional workshop 3pm-5pm for 6-9 year-olds. Places available. Click here to book. Scroll down for details.
  • Monday 29th September - Wednesday 1st October 12.30pm - 2.30pm each day for 8-12 year olds. "Kids in the Park" creative writing workshop. $160. Places available. Click here to book. Scroll down for details.
  • NEW Thursday 2nd October 10am - 3.30pm. Full-day "Writing for Performance" creative writing workshop for 9-14 year olds. $132. Places available. Click here to book. Scroll down for details.
  • Friday 3rd October 10am - 1.00pm "Selective Schools Entrance and ACER Test Preparation Workshop" for current year 5 students. $99, or $75 when booked with another course this holidays. Places available. Click here to book. Scroll down for details.

Can't make it this time but want us to keep you informed of future courses? Please click here to join our e-mailing list.

Enquiries: please phone 0468 543 933 or use this form.

 

Course Details September-October 2014

One-day "Persuasion and Advocacy" creative writing workshop for 8-13 year-olds, Tuesday 23rd September 2014 10am - 3.30pm. Do you want to spend your time arguing or would you rather really make your argument? We all know plenty of facts, but how do you use these effectively? And what about emotion? Writing is a powerful tool for advocating for a cause or persuading others to change their minds. This course will take you through the process of planning and writing something that will change minds. With award-winning poet and novelist Dr Ed Wright. $132. One place left - please phone or email to confirm availability. Click here for booking form (opens PDF in new window).

One-day "Skilled Young Writers: style and character" workshop for 10-15 year-olds, Wednesday 24th September, 10am - 3.30pm.Try out new ideas and techniques in a supportive and enjoyable setting. Stretching your metaphors, testing new poetic forms, and slowly, so very, very slowly adding to the excruciating suspense. This full day (bring your own picnic lunch) will build your skills and help you find new sources of inspiration. Held at the Education Centre, Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park. With award-winning poet and novelist Dr Ed Wright. $132 inc GST. Three places remaining. Click here to book.

One-day "Write Your Own Book" workshop for 8-13 year-olds, Sunday 28th September 2014 10am - 3.30pm. How to set, plan, build and finish your own extended story. Creating atmospheric settings, memorable characters and gripping plots. This full day (bring your own picnic lunch) will give you all the skills and inspiration you need to write your own book. Held at the Education Centre, Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park. With Dr Bernard Cohen. $132. Two places left - please phone or email to confirm availability. Click here to book (opens PDF in new window).

The Writing Workshop @ Kids in the Park holiday workshops for ages 6-9. Monday 29th September - Wednesday 1st October, 10am - 12 noon each day at the Education Centre, Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park. As part of the Kids in the Park program, our fun and popular regular creative writing workshops will take place. Create imaginary places, amazing characters and edge-of-your-seat events, and write superbly serious or fantastically funny stories and poems - all in your own brilliant literary style. $160 inc GST. BOOKED OUT.

Monday 29th September - Wednesday 1st October Additional workshop 3pm-5pm for 6-9 year-olds. Places available. Click here to book.

The Writing Workshop @ Kids in the Park holiday workshops for ages 8-12. As part of the Kids in the Park program, our fun and popular regular creative writing workshops will take place Monday 29th September - Wednesday 1st October, 12.30pm - 2.30pm each day at the Education Centre, Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park. (Note: age overlap with previous group is for your convenience and judgment.) Invent your own country, travel in time, invent wild new machines (and use them). Create world-changing events, and write superbly serious or fantastically funny stories and poems - all in your own brilliant literary style. $160 inc GST. Places available. Click here to book (opens PDF in new window).

One-day "Writing for Performance" workshop for 9-14 year-olds, Thursday 2nd October, 10am - 3.30pm. Get dramatic, theatrical, entertaining, gripping, emotional and emotive with a series of performance writing tasks built around character. Moving from impro to script. Storytelling. Holding an audience. Held at the Education Centre, Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park. $132 inc GST. Places available. Click here to book.

Selective High Schools Placement and Scholarship Tests preparation writing workshop for current year 5 students entering year 6 in 2015. Friday 3rd October, 10am - 1.00pm. This three-hour workshop complements other more broadly based workshops and is directed towards students entering year 6 in 2015 and intending to sit the NSW Selective High Schools Placement Test to be held early in 2015 or ACER scholarship tests. The workshop will cover skills for the test's creative writing component, including scenario development, planning and test practice. Includes materials. We recommend that children first learn to write well, and secondly how to direct their writing skills towards a twenty-minute test. Unlike our other courses, this workshop focuses on the second of these! $99 or $75 when booked with any other holiday workshop. Places available. Click here for booking form (opens PDF in new window).

Parent comment: "Thank you for all the positive energy you put into the writing course. You really have a talent for engaging young writers. My son had a great time and it's great to see him write outside of the realms of his comfort zone. He has come home writing and already I can see some development in the area of characterisation and plot formation. He has asked to do another course which is fantastic. It was wonderful seeing so many children with a passion for writing in the same room."

 

Other Available Courses (not offered in Sept-Oct holidays)

Story-Making Fun workshop for 5-8 year-olds. Saturday 21st December, 10am - 1pm. For new young writers: this course includes plenty of individual and group creative writing work and time to illustrate your own stories. At the Field Studies Tower, Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park.

One-day "Tales of the Bizarre and Supernatural" workshop for 10-15 year-olds, Thursday 23rd January 2014, 10am - 3.30pm. Create tense and haunting stories of the bizarre and unknown. Learn how to describe the creepiest atmosphere and to give your characters (and readers) a real sense of dread. Surely now is not the time to step outside… but for some reason they always do. Not for the faint-hearted

One-day "Write Your Own Book: The Hundred-Year Mystery" workshop for 8-13 year-olds. (Not offered in September 2012.) Invent an event so powerful that its repercussion are still felt 100 years later - a crime, discovery or secret passed from generation to generation. This full day (bring your own picnic lunch) will give you all the skills and inspiration you need to set, plan and build a gripping mystery story. Held at the Education Centre, Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park.

One-day "Nearly True Story of My Life" creative writing workshop for 8-13 year-olds,Amaze your friends and family with your powers of stretching the truth into frightening or hilarious new shapes! Turn everyday events and schedules into something extraordinary. This workshop will help you transform your skills and habits (wonderful or woeful) into entertaining and nearly believable stories.

Rhetoric: The Art and Science of Imaginative Arguing for 10-15 year olds. Persuasion, argument and logic. Prove that the world is flat and that gravity is a figment of the imagination, or that humanity would be better off through electing you mayor. Fill your writing with dogmatic and reasonable characters. Ancient and modern methods of persuasion (words only!)

One-day "Future Fiction" creative writing workshop for 8-13 year-olds, Decide the future, not just for yourself but for all humanity, or the entire planet or galaxy! Will we have all travel in spaceships with our reliable robotic dogs? How will we communicate? What could there be when screens become redundant? Utopia? Dystopia? What makes stories of the future believable and engaging? (Hint: there's more to it than technology.)

"Poetry: Images and Forms" for 9-14 year olds.We love poetry! The course will present new ways of using metre, help you create lush, vivid imagery and introduce advanced poetic forms and techniques. Build your skills as well as your powers of observation.

One-day "Fantastic Beasts" creative writing workshop for 8-13 year-olds, Saturday 26th April, 10am - 3.30pm. Create your own fantastic creature and let it loose in a world of your own invention. Dragons, griffins, elves and all manner of imaginary living things. Invent the magic. This course is always very popular and great fun. Places available. Click here for booking form (opens PDF in new window).

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Term 4, 2014 After-School Workshops

Parent email, August 2013: "Thank you very much for helping S- (aged 9) write so much by his own this Tuesday, YOU ARE MAGIC!!! Stanley told me he loves your style of teaching."

Bookings are now open for Term 4, 2014 after-school creative writing workshops we offer workshops in Eastwood, Haberfield and Annandale for school years 1 to 6, booking forms below. (Evening workshops in Leichhardt for school years 7 to 12 -- please contact us as places are very limited.) Please note, Cammeray workshops are in recess until Term 1 2015.

Enquiries: please phone 0468 543 933 or use this form.

News: Congratulations to Emily from our Eastwood group on her 2014 ICAS high distinction.

News: Congratulations to Brendon on winning the years 5-6 section of the 2014 University of Western Sydney Whitlam Institute "What Matters?" essay competition. Brendon attended after-school workshops from kindergarten to year 4. Read his amazing piece here.

News: Congratulations to Fergus on the award of a scholarship to Sydney Grammar School, starting in 2015.

News: Congratulations to Lucinda, whose story "Daybreak" won the 11 years section of the 2013 Bill Coppell Young Writers Award.

News: Congratulations to Silvia, whose prose poem "Sometimes It Feels So Bright at Night" won the 14-15 years section of the 2012 Bill Coppell Poetry Prize.

News: Congratulations to Thomas in year 5, whose book "Harry the Huntsman Spider" was published by Willoughby City Council in its Wildlife Story Books series, July 2012.

News: Congratulations to Ella and Julia whose short stories won 1st and 2nd places at the 2011 International Grammar School Arts Day.

 

Mondays at Eastwood Public School. Commences 13th October 2014. Years K-2 from 3.15 to 4.10 pm; years 3-4 from 4.15 to 5.10 pm; years 5-6 from 5.15 to 6.10 pm. Please contact us for further details or click here to download a booking form.

Monday evening course for school years 9-12, Leichhardt 7.00pm-8.30pm. Commences 13th October 2014. By application only when places available.

Tuesdays at Haberfield Public School. Commences 7th October 2014. Years K-2 from 3.15 to 4.10 pm; years 3-4 from 4.15 to 5.10 pm; years 5-6 from 5.15 to 6.10pm. Download a booking form.

Tuesday evening course for school years 7-9, Leichhardt 7.00pm-8.30pm. Commences 7th October 2014. By application only when places available.

Thursdays at Annandale North Public School, Johnston St, Annandale. Commences 9th October 2014. Years K-2 from 3.05 to 4 pm; years 3-4 from 4.05-5 pm; years 5-6 from 5.05 to 6 pm. Click here to book. Or please contact us for further details.

 

News: Congratulations to all those who received (and kindly let us know about their brilliant results) in the 2012 and 2013 ICAS Writing tests, including two in a row (2011 and 2012) High Distinctions for Mia in year 4.

News: Congratulations to Tara, shortlisted for the 2011 Tim Winton Award for Young Writers, presented annually in Western Australia. Tara attended our online workshop in 2010 and her Mum writes, "Tara LOVES to write and it is a fact that your course's approach definitely showed her (and her sister Brooke) a completely different way to plan, what to include and how to have a little more fun with their writing."

News: Congratulations to Frankie, aged 14, whose poem "The Bird and the Beast" was exhibited at the 2010 “Not Violent, Not Silent” Art Exhibition of the  White Ribbon Foundation.

 

Parent email:

"Jade (aged 13) has really, really been enjoying your class. Thanks for putting on such a stimulating course that progresses through the term toward Jade and the other children feeling they are achieving great things with what they love to do (and do best). Although the journey is always what keeps the cogs in motion, it's the end product often that 'glows' as the big reward for the time and effort spent. Jade has definitely felt a sense of pride and achievement in what you have guided her toward and taught her." JS, April 2009

Enquiries: please phone 0468 543 933 or use this form.

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Online Workshops

News: We're delighted to offer a new Children's Online Writing Workshop for young people aged 7-10. Comprising 8 writing tasks (and second drafts) over 6 months, you will invent your own story world, populate it with unique and interesting characters and make brilliant events occur. This course complements our ongoing course for ages 10 and over. which has attracted young writers from all over the world. To enrol, click here (opens PDF in new window). For further enquiries, please use this form.

Online Creative Writing Workshops for ages 10 and up. Can't make it to current venues for any reason? The Writing Workshop's internet creative writing workshop for young people aged 10 and up takes place anywhere in the world through our password-protected blog interface. The workshops involve regular writing exercises and mentor feedback, as well as the chance to read and discuss your work with your peers (all comments are moderated). Click here for an enrolment form (new window, pdf). Use this form to ask for more information.

News: Congratulations to Tara shortlisted for the 2011 Tim Winton Award for Young Writers, presented annually in Western Australia. Tara attended our online workshop in 2010 and her Mum writes, "Tara LOVES to write and it is a fact that your course's approach definitely showed her (and her sister Brooke) a completely different way to plan, what to include and how to have a little more fun with their writing.I know that what Tara and Brooke learnt from [course leader Emily Maguire] was of great value as both have been doing extremely well in creative writing."

Haiku
by Frankie, aged 12

Perfect conditions,
The road sprayed with light, winds calm,
Birds twitter in the trees.

Snowflakes on my tongue,
The road cold, filled with deep snow,
Animals hide, sleeping.

Leaves stare at the sky,
The road, dead leaves underfoot,
Jump and make them fly.

Flowers bloom, bright colours,
The road, sweet aromas fly,
Rejoice, new year comes.

(from TheWritingWorkshop Online, July 2009)

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School programs (Incursions)

Enquiries: please phone 0468 543 933 or use this form.

TWW offers schools high-quality workshops and courses ranging from a single session to term-length residencies. Our senior high school workshops address creative writing elements of the NSW HSC English curriculum, with particular focus on recent markers' comments. We also offer high-quality in-service and planning days for teachers.

School organisers please click here for more information on school programs, or contact us by clicking here.

Previous school days and workshop series include Wahroonga Public School, Homebush Boys High School (including teacher professional development day), Sydney Secondary College, Al Zahra College, Glenmore Rd Public School, Rosebank College, Emanuel School, Newtown North Public School (in-service for all staff + year 5 workshop), King David School (Melbourne), Queenwood School for Girls (HSC "Belonging" unit of study workshops), Forest Lodge Public School (in-service for all staff), Bourke Street Public School (In-service for all staff + Term 2, 2009), St Joseph's Primary School (Taree), Athelstane Public School (in-service for all staff + Term 2, 2009), Malek Fahd Islamic School (HSC workshop: "Belonging"), Matraville Sports High, Penrith Anglican College Enrichment Day (PACED), the Whitlam Institute (UWS) "What Matters!" school workshops, Gardeners Road Public School, St Joseph's Primary School (Denman), Glebe Public School (Years 2-6 - click for information and writing), Marrickville Intensive English Centre, La Perouse Public School, Marrickville Public School, St Peters Public School, Summer Hill Public School. Castle Cove Public School, St Fiacre's School, Croydon Park PS kindergarten groups, Annandale North PS (K-3), Marrickville West Public School, Pittwater High, MET Meadowbank (HSC workshop: "Belonging") and Tempe High (Year 8).

We welcome bookings from other organisations, and love working in libraries. Recent library workshops for teenagers include Blacktown, Leichhardt and Pittwater Public Libraries.

News: Authors in Priority Schools programs: The Writing Workshop offers in-school programs tailored to priority and disadvantaged schools. Our programs boost literacy and enjoyment of writing. Read about the pilot program, set up by the Australian Society of Authors, Federal Department of Education, Science and Technology and NSW Department of Education and Training.

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In-Service Courses for Primary and Secondary School Teachers

The Writing Workshop now offers planning days, in-service courses for teachers of all school levels from K to 12, as well as modelled lessons. We will run courses in your school any time including on pupil-free and professional development days.

Our in-service courses focus on planning term-length creative writing programs. These are practical days requiring teachers to access and apply their own creative skills. No PowerPoint. Courses cover education for creativity and creative writing within a quality teaching framework. You can expect to walk away with new ideas and approaches for engaging and inspiring students, and teaching and thinking about writing.

Enquiries: please phone 0468 543 933 or use this form.

Feedback from Teacher Professional Development Courses

  • A fantastic approach to teaching something quite difficult – narrative. Thank you for your enthusiasm – very refreshing. I really enjoyed the writing tasks myself.
  • I liked the workshop because of the concepts behind it: encouraging children to develop solid ideas before attempting writing. The examples and exercises were good and are easily transferred to the classroom.
  • Good to put ourselves “in the children’s shoes”
  • You gave me another approach on how to teach creative writing. I can’t wait to try it out with my class this year. I’m always looking for a fresh approach and to try new things – and you have given me that today.
  • I liked the ideas presented in a new format. I will use it with my planning and programming and for my own development of writing creatively. It was challenging and engaging.
  • Great ideas about character development and love the newspaper article (exercise). Relaxed and informative – a great way to get creative juices flowing.
  • I found the course useful – most useful was the experience of being expected to be creative to order, which is a daunting task! I like the template and will find it useful in planning the term’s work.
  • Excellent ideas for story writing. I particularly liked the character analysis and writing about the event from the points of view of the characters – one of the hardest parts of writing for children. The idea of the land was inspiring as well.
  • Really enjoyed the hands-on approach – helps you to put yourself in their shoes! It was great to model how to build character especially, as I find this is what kids find the hardest to do.
  • New ideas for the classroom. Great presentation – Great breaking down of the narrative to smaller parts.
  • Useful ideas re providing a stimulus/starting point for students.
  • Great building blocks to develop narratives.
  • I liked the detailed breakdown of narrative elements as a way of developing writing.
  • Liked the emphasis on creativity without bogging students down with difficulties.
    I found the practical ideas for activities really interesting and useful. It was good to be put on the spot to remember what it is we ask kids to do all the time. I like the idea of making writing a long-term project, broken up by a variety of different interesting tasks. Thank you!
  • Writing guide (for term) very useful. Writing tasks were valuable – I was nervous at first.
  • Great ideas to take back to school.
  • Thank you for a great workshop. Loved working on developing characters and will take with me some new and excellent ideas for creative writing.
  • Note: These comments are from Staff Planning Day for Newtown North and Forest Lodge Public Schools (all teaching staff from both schools).

Professional Development afternoon at Moree Christian School, involving teachers from that school, Moree East Public School and Moree Secondary College. Eleven feedback forms were returned, and here they are.

Athelstane Public School Planning Day for all school teaching staff, K-6 plus IM. Participant comments:

"Great ideas to make children's creative ideas flow.""I found the workshop very valuable. It was great to learn in more depth how to really plan a story, how to develop character and keep a narrative going and facilitate this in students' writing. The practical activities were excellent... This sort of teaching is much more practical and helpful than other courses that simply teach a macrostructure or checklist to include in a narrative. Thanks." "Very engaging - hands on... Lots of useful ideas and tips for writing with children."

"A very informative day. Presented in a clear, simple and practical manner."

November 2008 Gifted and Talented Creative Writing Planning Day at Penrith Anglican College and invited nearby schools. Participant comments:

"I found the ideas to be very helpful. I am keen to try them in the class ASAP. Bernard is passionate about writing and made me feel that I would succeed as a teacher. Bernard is an excellent facilitator."

"I've taken some new ideas to share with my colleagues. Presentation was relaxed and informative. It was great that you didn't use PowerPoint and you talked to us."

"Well presented, interesting writing strategies I can see myself incorporating into my classroom writing program next year. You have inspired me to write!"

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Old news

News: Congratulations to Samuel whose short stories were awarded 1st AND 2nd prizes in the 2010 Sydney Youth Writing Competition. Congratulations to other participants (including Angelique) whose stories and poems were also highly rated and included in the SYWC anthology Thunder and Lime.

News: Congratulations to Erin and Ben, gold and bronze award-winners respectively in the 2010 Write-On Competition conducted by the NSW Board of Studies.

News: Congratulations to poet Silvia, aged 12, for an excellent third in the 2010 Gold Coast Writers' Association Children's Writing Competition (from many entries) and to Ella, 14, whose Vietnam War short story won the 2010 Junior Writing category at her school.

In Term 1, 2010, all groups wrote about ancient times. Here is 8-year-old Livinia's description of life as a slave in Ancient Egypt. In term 2, school years 3-9 created new lands and fascinating narrators. From Term 2, here is 13-year-old Ella's official analysis of her land from the point-of-view of a professional CD stacker.

News: Congratulations to Lily Edelstein, 2009 winner of Burwood Girls High's inaugural Young Writer's Award. Lily, in year 8, has attended The Writing Workshop since 2006.

News: Congratulations to Rosie, aged 9, winner of the 7-9 year-old division of the 2009 Leichhardt Library children's writing competition.

News: Welcome to Vogel Award winner and television scriptwriter Jennifer Kremmer. Jennie will run in-school courses on the central coast and Newcastle area. She began at Raymond Terrace Public School in term 3. Jennifer has 20 years' experience teaching creative writing at university level.

News: Congratulations to workshop leader Catherine Therese, whose book (for adults) The Weight of Silence: A Memoir (Hachette Australia) was shortlisted for the State Library of NSW's National Biography Award. Catherine is also a stand-out stand-in for The Writing Workshop.

News: Congratulations to Darcy, aged 8, March 2009 Kids' Editor of Burke's Backyard magazine.

News: Congratulations to Willem Proos, runner-up in the 2008 Sun-Herald's "The Ultimate Story" competition. Kay (Willem's Mum) writes: "Willem had a great time at your course and learnt a lot." The competition attracted over 1000 entries.

Parent email, July 2010: "Thanks for much, the kids loved your course! As always! H__ was disappointed that we will be in Spain next school holidays and so miss out on your next holiday course!! It is a credit to your skill that you can keep all the kids (of such varied ages) so interested and enthusiastic that they would prefer your course to an overseas holiday!!"

Congratulations to Holly (year 5) and Nicholas (kindergarten) from TWW who won junior and senior sections respectively of the Annandale North Short Story competition. Claudia and Laine also won prizes, and Ella was highly commended. Congratulations to Alex from Drummoyne PS who won a school award for his story writing. Read Holly's truly remarkable story here.

 

News: In 2008, The Writing Workshop further contributed to "Priority Schools". Bernard Cohen was once again visiting author at four "priority schools" under the NSW Education Department's Priority Schools Program. The schools were Alexandria Park Community School, Matraville Sports High School, Gardeners Road Public School and Athelstane Public School. Priority Schools are defined by high levels of community welfare dependence and need. In 2007, Bernard presented term-length workshop series at Marrickville Intensive English Centre, Marrickville PS, Glebe PS and St Peters PS.

News: Bernard was keynote speaker at the Primary Principals Association (Port Jackson & Bondi areas) Annual Conference in mid-June. The conference theme was "Magic Happens".

News: Writers Talk, a resource developed by the NSW Department of Education's Centre for Learning Innovation for the Sydney Writers Festival, features an interview with Bernard Cohen — and Bernard's masterclass with year 8 at Tempe High School, in which students transformed the school library into a museum. Other interview subjects include Deborah Abela, Ursula Dubosarsky and Emily Rodda.

More parent emails:

"I thought I might just drop you this note to really say thank you, and to let you know what a great job we think you do. "It is rare in our kids' overly full and ordered lives to get real opportunity to be lateral and creative in their writing. It suits our daughter down to the ground, and makes her feel special and validated. At the beginning of the term kids always wants to do lots of out-of-school activities, however this is the only one which independently motivates her every week."Kids have such great imaginations. Sometimes I think school unlearns some of this. We are fortunate to have an outlet to boost it back up again." — KC

"After attending your writing workshop last October, my daughter Olivia (now year 2) can't wait to come back to the workshop to work on one of her favourite areas - writing."

"Nick and Jorgie were buzzing after their first class on Thursday and are looking forward to next week. Jim and I were really impressed with their first writing task. Nick said he received loads of constructive criticism which is great, thank you."
More feedback from children and parents.

What the papers say about TWW: "The kids flood into the classroom, bubbling with excitement and comments about previous workshops and stories they've written, and Cohen gets straight down to business…" Read the Sydney Morning Herald article on TWW (SMH, 16/9/2006, opens new browser window - pdf/Acrobat format).

What the children write: click here. Or to download an A4 pdf (Acrobat format) of four collective poems, click here (opens in new browser window).

 

 

What do participants think of Bernard's workshops? This is what they've said.

Click here for The Writing Workshop's approach to learning creative writing: why we do what we do.

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According to the NSW Department of Education website, "Priority Schools Programs support government schools serving the highest densities of low socio-economic status families in New South Wales. The programs are underpinned by principles of equity and are part of the NSW government's commitment to social inclusion." For more information, here is the Priority Schools Program website.

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creative writing workshop
reading out loud at journeys bookstore
young writer at kids in the park holiday programcreative writing workshop for children

 

Bernard Cohen

Dr Bernard Cohen is a novelist and picture book writer and director of The Writing Workshop. Bernard's writing has been published around the world. His awards include the 1997 Vogel Prize, 2001 Arts Council of England Writer's Award, 1997 University of Technology Alumnus of the Year Award, and a unique three inclusions in the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Novelists.

Bernard's fifth novel for adults, The Antibiography of Robert F. Menzies, was published by 4th Estate in October 2013. Amongst Bernard's recent publications (for grown-ups): "The Chinese Meal, Uneaten" (short story) in Asia Literary Review Autumn 2011; "War against the Ungulates" (short story) first published in Heat 17 and included in Best Australian Stories 2008; "Hunter is Writing" (feature) in Australian Author 39/3; "Storm" (poem) published in FourW Nineteen. His latest publication for children is a Korean edition of the picture book Paul Needs Specs (published by Woongjin Booxen 2011). In 2013, Bernard was awarded a Doctorate of Creative Arts from University of Technology, Sydney. He is the recipient of a 2014 New Work grant Australia Council for the Arts.

Bernard has over 25 years experience conducting writing workshops for young people, and founded The Writing Workshop in 2006. For more information, please contact The Writing Workshop.

 

Bernard Cohen - author photo by Wong Kan Tai
 
 
 

 


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This page was last updated 17/9/2014

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