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Paragraphing in Notebooks

Today was the first day I checked my students’ Idea Notebooks, using the rubric I adapted from Buckner’s Book, since the school year began. The frequency with which the kids have been writing is amazing to me! One student even received a 4- on her notebook today and I gave her one of these to celebrate her accomplishment. (I’ve given special writer pencils in the past, but am moving to these tiny notepads this year.)

While reading each student’s notebook, I noticed something I often see at the start of the school year in the kids’ notebooks: one paragraph per page. That doesn’t mean the kids aren’t filling the page. Quite the contrary. They’re just not inserting new paragraphs into their notebooks when a new person speaks, a new person is introduced, the setting changes, etc. Hence, I found myself explicitly teaching that to these students today during a Mid-Workshop Interruption and by providing students with mentor notebook entries, of mine, where they could see the indentations where each new paragraph began.

Funny how kids know that you need new paragraphs any time you write on loose leaf paper, but somehow, that doesn’t transfer over to the notebook work unless it’s explicitly taught.

Stacey Shubitz View All

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

4 thoughts on “Paragraphing in Notebooks Leave a comment

  1. I so love Buckner’s book! I don’t know if you guys respond to questions, but I thought I would try….
    I have a student this year who has just gotten out of the newcomers program at our school (which means she has been in the country for over a year). Anyways, I’ve never had to teach students who struggle like my sweet Jennifer. She knows she has to make sentences so she does good with trying but she doesn’t understand the English language well enough to make sentences that make any sense. She is on a first grade reading level in 5th grade so I feel thankful for anything I get in writing. Any tips? I truly do not have much experience in guiding a 5th grader that needs this much help in writing. I feel confident in guiding her through reading, but I am just not sure how to guide her in writing. Any advice is wonderful.


  2. You have a great mini-lesson right there! I am amazed how this site perks up my mini-lessons. You model “tucking” in teaching points and “scattering” for all of us. I always appreciate it.


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