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Notebooks: What Kind? Division of Sections?

Ro asked:

I’m thinking about my launching unit for W.W and writer’s notebooks. Do you have kids section off their notebooks for minilessons/charts or do you leave it up to them? Last year I didn’t have students do this for writing but I did have them do it for reading. I’m interested to hear your ideas.

I’ve been thinking about the division of the kids’ notebooks, as well, lately. Last year I received a grant through DonorsChoose to bring real writer’s notebooks (e.g., Moleskine) to my kids since I found, out of some action research I did in graduate school, that kids tend to write more when they use the tools real writers use. Quite frankly, I would never heed my teacher’s advice if s/he said, “If you want to live like a writer, then take your notebook with you everywhere you go,” if I had to cart a 5-subject notebook around with me as my writer’s notebook.

Alas, I have about 30 Moleskine Notebooks left this year, not enough to meet the needs to my kids who often go through three – six writer’s notebooks in one year. However, Moleskine Notebooks are EXPENSIVE, something I’m not able to keep replenishing for my students this year. Hence, I think I’m going to have the kids keep two notebooks:

  • An Idea Notebook, which they’ll use to live like writers and for at-home, nightly entries.
  • A Five-Subject Writer’s Notebook, which they’ll use in school for collecting, nurturing, and for notes (aka: mini-charts).

    I do not think this is a perfect solution, but it’s what I’ve come up with — for now.

    Getting back to the question about dividing-up a five-subject notebook: I provided teachers with various ideas about dividing-up five-subject notebooks, based off of Aimee Buckner‘s Book, in a presentation I gave in NYC two years ago. Click here to view the presentation. However, the suggestions I provided in the PPT remove student choice from the picture, which is not good. Therefore, you might want to have a conversation with your students, early in the year, about the writing process and note-taking. Elicit from them the ways THEY think their notebooks should be divided, guiding them towards what you hope the sections will look like. Doing this might provide you with ideas about a new way to make notebooks work for YOUR students, which is, after all, what it’s all about.

    I’ll end this post with something Ruth said, which I believe is truly at the heart of all the work with do with the young writers we teach:

  • Stacey Shubitz View All

    Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

    7 thoughts on “Notebooks: What Kind? Division of Sections? Leave a comment

    1. I love your blog! Keep up the good work! I admire you for teaching journaling to kids. I started writing at the age of 10 when my mother gave me my first journal to help me cope with my grandmother’s suicide…

      Happy writing!
      Diana Raab


    2. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!


    3. I read your blog all the time and I love how much detail you have about what you plan on doing in your classroom. I read your blog and compare your thinking to mine and it’s almost as good as having an in-person colleague to bounce ideas off of. I’m envious of your attendance at Columbia Teacher Summer Writing Institutes. It is my dream to attend one summer soon!

      One question that is not completely related-how much time do you spend approximately each day on your blog?


    4. My class last year really responded to having a special little notebook that was just for ideas and another special book that was for writing. They loved the notebooks! I bought them each 4 or 5 throughout the year. No grant money for me, so I bought them at the dollar store. They were pretty excited and I got off cheap!


    5. This is great advice!! I look forward to hearing how using 2 notebooks works in your class…keep us updated! I’m still going back and forth about which way to go, I’ll let you know when I’ve finally made my decision!

      Thanks a bunch for all of your help & support! 🙂


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