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Video 1: Interview: Part 1

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Interviewer: So Chris, how do you inspire children to write?

Christopher Cheng: Inspiring, I think it's something to do with me just telling them some of my story.

And I often read little bits like I did today.

I read a snippet of one of my stories to show them that, you know, this came from nothing.

Telling them, this came from nothing, I created this story.

Then I come up with, as we did today, we came up with lots of different ideas.

Sometimes it's hard to get them to really start so sometimes I just get them to throw me a whole lot of ideas and we sort of pick one

that we're all really comfortable with and then we start playing with that and they can see that, 'Okay, we've gone from nothing, we've created a story together.

Ah, I can probably do that too.'

Interviewer: And do you encourage them to use themselves in their narrative?

Christopher: Again, that depends on the age group.

Some of the younger kids certainly love writing themselves into a story: it's me, me, me, me, me.

And sometimes that's a bit of a problem because you want to get away from that.

So you just try to get them again to pick something, tell it as a story, pick something that you saw happening.

What happened at the bus stop today?

What happened when you were driving past in a car?

What did you see?

So they tell that story, the story that they're seeing.

So I get them to pull away from the 'me, me', and just tell another story.

Sometimes though, you know, kids have got great stories and they love writing themselves into the stories.

That's fine too and, I mean, I certainly think one of the things I don't always talk about and I certainly didn't today but I often tell them

that I write myself into just about every fictional story I write.

There's something of me in everything.

There's nothing wrong with it.

You've just got to go and find it.

Interviewer: Would you suggest that they use the first person or third person in their narrative?

Christopher: Again you know it's what type of story are you going to tell?

I mean for some kids, really for some kids, it is much easier to tell, you know, a first-person narrative, to just put it out there and just tell them that story.

Other times some kids sort of have this wildly vivid imagination and start off, way off in the distance and then bring themselves back into it anyway.

So I don't really push either of them unless it is something like, quite often I am working with the teacher and it is something that the teacher wants to focus on.

If they want to focus on the first-person narrative then I'll come up with some ideas, we'll work around some ideas, if they want to do the

third-person narrative we'll do exactly the same thing.

So really, I mean, certainly for me, I try and tailor in with what the teachers want to do anyway.


Video 2: Interview: Part 2

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Interviewer: So Chris, what techniques would you suggest to use with the children to enable them to introduce their characters and

then develop their characterisation throughout their narrative?

Christopher Cheng: For kids it's a case of coming up with a character.

What's your character about?

Give me a description of the character.

So it's got a blue wing or blue hair.

It's got wings, it's got this and they come up with a really good solid description.

Before any of the kids are writing I really try and make sure they've got the character in their heads so they know what they're writing about.

Tell me what the character does.

Sometimes we'll focus on just doing a character description and that could be a whole time that I would spend with them doing a solid

character description, coming up with all the things about the character.

What does it look like?

How does it move?

Where does it live?

What sounds does it make?

What does it smell like?

That's one of course they love doing, they love doing smells.

So what does it smell like?

How does it behave?

What other things?

What are some crazy things you can tell me about your character?

What are some things that nobody else knows about your character?

Quite often it will be a case of putting up a whole list of things about the character first and then that solidifies the character in the children's head.

So once they've got it solidified then it's a case of, okay, now what can your character do in your story.

Because they've got then the story plot and they have worked out the outline, what they want to do.

And then it's really, really once they they've got the character well embedded in their head - and that's exactly what I do when I am writing.

Interviewer: And do you model narrative structure for the students?

Christopher: Yeah, quite often.

One of the things I'm finding, certainly in the last couple of years, is a lot of classes want to talk about narrative, so we talk about it.

How do I write?

What do I do?

And I tell them about my planning board I have at home.

I tell them about my notebooks.

I tell them about scaffolds and how, you know, they can scaffold, I can scaffold too.

I do it in a different format.

How I do mind maps.

How I just spread out over a whole planning board everything that goes on in my story.

It doesn't mean it stays that way and it never does.

Things change all the way through but it's the basis of it.

The story is well and truly planned.

So I've got the characters well developed in my head.

I do the same thing with them in the classes and then, as a writer, I have the plan well developed.

And then I tell them, okay, let's develop a plan.

Let's get the plan down so you know what you are writing about.

After everything else is done then you go into the writing.


Video 3: Interview: Part 3

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How do you excite children about reading?

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Interviewer: And so, what are your suggestions or how do you really excite children about reading?

Christopher Cheng: I love using voices so I'll grab a book and say, certainly, I would give a book and say, you could read it like this

in a monotone voice, just read it like that, like some people do.

But then I'll throw in really exciting voices and make the story come alive.

I think that's what you've got to do when you're reading aloud.

You make the story come alive and let the kids see how it's not just words on a page.

You can make it really exciting.

You can make that story live by what you do with your voices when you're telling a story.

And it's so much fun.

I get such a buzz out of it.

It's really funny too with different kids.

Some kids have teachers or have parents that are used to reading stories with them.

They say, 'But that's not how the voice goes, it goes like this.'

And so they'll put their own voice in it.

Those kids are excited about reading.

Interviewer: Alright, well thanks very much Chris for your time today and for your work with the children.

Christopher: Thank you, I had a lot of fun.