An innovative writing programme is giving Hukanui School students the tools and skills to have a go at writing. And while the programme's purpose isn't to boost literacy levels, that's been a positive spin-off from the initiative.
Write On is the brainchild of teacher Tracey Hopkins. Three years ago, she could see there were some students who needed to believe they could be writers, "that they could have fun with writing".
"I wanted to provide an environment for the students where they can just write, where it doesn't matter about spelling or grammar - we can work on that later. I wanted to inspire a love of writing in them, to give them the freedom to experiment with their writing."
So Tracey started Write On, which is held in 90-minute blocks every Monday in term two and three. Teachers nominate students in their classes who they think would benefit from participating in Write On.
The class is taken by bubbly Talia Nelson, a Hamilton author who has self-published two children's books with a third at illustration stage. Talia is also a qualified early childhood educator.
"I take their lead so I develop games and activities according to what they are interested in," said Talia.
When Hamilton News visited Write On, Talia had the students working on a word game. On the whiteboard was the word 'nelipot' and a class of boys was thinking creatively to figure out what the word meant.
Answers ranged from "the name of a helicopter" to "a water bucket". The answer was someone who walks without shoes. Talia grins when she recalls asking a class what they thought 'carpology' meant. One child thought it might be "when a car apologises to another car for crashing into it". Creative thinking indeed, says Talia.
It was obvious the children were enjoying the class. Talia sets a relaxed, fun tone for the lesson.
Some children are lying on the floor while others are in recliner chairs. But all are hanging on Talia's every word and are participating enthusiastically.
Year 6 student Kavana Lay summed up how he and his fellow students feel about the class: "We are learning and having heaps of fun at the same time".
At the beginning of the term, Talia says, they didn't want to read their writing to the rest of the class, preferring Talia to read it for them. Now, they jump at the chance.
"Write On is about giving them the foundation on which to build their writing skills, it's giving them the confidence to have a go."
And while she's not surprised at what the students have written - she knows they are capable - she's proud when she sees how they can write so emotively and insightfully.
The programme isn't funded by the Ministry of Education. Tracey has to find sponsorship to run Write On each year and needs to secure funding for 2013.
People interested in sponsoring Write On can email Tracey email@example.com or phone the school on 855-6037.