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One notebook or many?

Last week I blogged about a Recipe for Conferring Success.
I’ve done some more thinking about it in recent days and am left pondering the following questions for myself as a teacher of writing:
1. One notebook or many?
a. How many notebooks should teachers of writing keep to use in conferences and strategy lessons with students?
2. How much do we really need in our toolkits for each unit of study we teach?

I started thinking, a few days ago, that I should have a different writer’s notebook for each unit of study I teach since I am always cross-referencing different notebooks when I confer with my students about their writing. I have to remember when I wrote a particular piece so that I can find that notebook and share that particular entry with a student. This becomes cumbersome. However, when I thought about all of the units of study I teach in Writing Workshop each year (upwards of seven), I realized that having seven notebooks, even if they were divided up by genre, might be even more confusing! Hence, I think I came up with a solution.

Insert drumroll here…

I’m going to purchase a large Miquelruis Notebook, as well as some self-adhesive/write-on tabs. Then, I’m going to recopy my entries for each unit of study I teach, in the order that I teach them, into my new writer’s notebook. This is going to take time since I don’t want to paste-in my photocopied entries from other writer’s notebooks since that won’t look authentic. That being said, I’m going to divide up my notebook into sections and include all of the notebook work I’ve done to help me develop a piece (to the point where I drafted outside of my writer’s notebook) so that I can help my students to see my process when I confer with them. Here are my sections:
1. small moment stories (grown out of single notebook entries)
2. personal narrative
3. personal essay
4. persuasive writing
5. fiction
6. literary essay
7. poetry
8. memoir

This is going to be a monumental undertaking. But hey, school doesn’t start until September 4th!

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.

I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

12 thoughts on “One notebook or many? Leave a comment

  1. In regards to the artifacts… I would leave them in your original notebook and possibly just creat a color coded sticky that tells you this is a great artifact and writing piece- OR- create a table of contents on the inside for quick references….


  2. Wow, that would be a lot of recopying. What would you do about the artifacts? Say like a mini-golf score card — would you put the original in the “teaching notebook” or leave it in the first one? Let me know as your thoughts evolve — this is good food for though! 🙂


  3. Yeah, I was going to recopy. Too much, right? I just wanted to make it authentic. Perhaps in the midst of making it authentic, I’m making it inauthentic by doing this. Hmmm…


  4. My first thought? I can’t believe you don’t start school until September 4th!

    Second thought — your comment about doing this each year . . . You don’t mean recopy entries each year, right? Do you mean you’ll set up your notebook with these sections each year & begin catching ideas according to the unit?

    I’ve used tabs in one of my notebooks & it worked pretty well. I’m enough of a free spirit, though, that I like the jumble that comes with just putting thoughts down on the next clean page. I use lots of stickie notes to mark entries to use with students or as reminders of good stuff to write about.

    I also make copies of my notebook entries that I know are goldmines for teaching & put the copy into my unit folder. However, I find I don’t use them much in my conferring, because I use my current notebook in most conferences. I’m more apt to use the past notebook entries for focus lessons, though, which is why I keep them.

    I’m going to write a post about the notebooks I keep. I’ve been thinking a lot about notebooks lately. Like you I have numerous ones, for many different purposes!

    What a great conversation! I hope it keeps going.


  5. Hi- this is jen from teacherslife….

    LOVE IT- I like the idea that each year is started out fresh. After a year or two, you can then go back and use various pieces from the past if needed. What is your opinion on students using the stickies to divide their notebook? I had two or three girls who did this last year and it worked for them.


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