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Day 4: Thursday (Subscribers Only)

Zealous children’s writer Zoë Disher writes quirky and factual articles that bring a wealth of information to life for our readers. She reveals her secrets on how to condense large amounts of information into accessible, short, sharp, and bite-size articles.

Vox Pop Video Part One: Writing Nonfiction

Vox Pop Video Part Two: Finding Your Angle for Nonfiction

Vox Pop Video Part Three: Fiction vs Nonfiction

Top 3 Tips

Download to print Zoë's Top 3 Tips!

Read Zoë's work in The School Magazine's 'Explore' library page.

Student Activities

Activity 1. Introduce Zoë Disher to students by watching her Vox Pop Videos (there are three in total).

Activity 2. Display a collection of Zoë’s articles by typing her name into the search bar on the Explore page of the website. Stage 2 students will have a number of short ‘Will Wonders Never Cease’ articles to scroll through. Stage 3 students will have a number of longer articles to look at. Ask students to identify what the articles have in common. Students should recognise the fact that they all have subheadings, and most of them have a single standalone introduction known as a standfirst. Discuss the importance of subheadings and the purpose that they serve (makes text more accessible, breaks text into chunks, easier on the eye etc).

Important note: To access all of Zoe’s articles, you may like to use The School Magazine print hard copies—we have listed the following below as a guide to help you locate them.

Article Suggestions

Stage 2

  • Will Wonders Never Cease (Blast Off, Issues 1-10 2019 and Blast Off, Issues 1-8 2020)

Stage 3

  • How to Hatch Your Eggs (Orbit, Issue 4 2020 )
  • Spider Silk (Orbit, Issue 1 2020)
  • Vanishing Submarines (Touchdown, Issue 3 2020)

Activity 3. Arrange the students in pairs and provide them with access to a selection of Zoe’s articles (hard copy or digital). Students in Stage 2 should be directed to one of the short ‘Will Wonders Never Cease’ pieces, while Stage 3 students could work with one of the longer articles. Ask students to read through the article and highlight key words and phrases. Encourage them to be ‘selective’ as these highlighted words and phrases will form the basis on their free verse poem.

Activity 4. Explain to students that they are going to combine nonfiction with poetry by writing a free verse poem. This exercise is the text equivalent of a collage! In their established pairs, students choose from the words and phrases they highlighted in Activity 2 and begin rearranging them into 4-line stanzas. Depending on the ability of the students, some pairs may write one stanza, while others may write multiple stanzas. Remind students of the fact that ‘free verse’ poems do not rhyme. Here is an example of a free verse poem, using words and phrases from Zoe’s article ‘How to Hatch Your Eggs’:


Eggs, snug and warm

waiting to hatch

in a nest

the ultimate safe haven.


Mother bird gets suspicious

the cunning birds sit around

and predators wander past

looking for breakfast.


Support: For students who may find the free verse poem challenging, ask them to compile a list of commonly used words from their article. These words can be typed into Wordle (this needs to be downloaded on to your desktop) to create a visual collage.


More information

Zoë Disher writes fiction, nonfiction and sometimes even poetry. She has a background in science but couldn't resist the lure of writing for children because it is so much fun. She likes animals in general and invertebrates in particular. And dogs, of course.

You can find out more about Zoë Disher and her writing on her website.


Student Gallery

You can view our Student Gallery displaying the work of students who participated in the festival.

Schools are encouraged to contribute to the gallery display. Teachers should submit selected work their students have created as a result of our literary festival to the email [email protected] with the subject line ‘TSMLitFest–SCHOOL NAME—Student Gallery.

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