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Deeper Thinking About Notebook Work

This week I had the opportunity to interview author John Claude Bemis. This is is latest book:

The Prince Who Fell from the Sky by John Claude Bemis

I asked him about notebook work and his response led me to a deeper understanding of the importance of notebook work. John said:

I jot ideas down in the notebook, not because I’m worried I’ll forget them, but because there’s something about translating thoughts into writing that helps me deepen and develop my ideas.

It’s one of those things that I knew in my heart, but these simple words resonated in me, made me understand to the core the importance of notebook work. I think sometimes, in writing workshop, notebook work is reduced to a trite assignment. It can turn into a cute sketch or a catchy list. However, when I’m engaged in meaningful notebook work, it does exactly what John describes — it “translates my thoughts into writing that helps me deepen and develop my ideas.”

Over the next few days I’m going to pay particular attention to how my notebook work deepens and develops my ideas. As I reflect on this, I will strengthen my ability to teach students how to ensure their own notebook work is powerful and meaningful. Want to join me? Crack open your notebook and pay attention to your own process.

If you want a little more inspiration, check out more of the conversation with John, as well as a {Discover. Play. Build.} Challenge on Ruth Ayres Writes.

John Claude BemisJohn Claude Bemis is the author of The Clockwork Dark, a fantasy adventure trilogy that takes place in a mythical America. The first book, The Nine Pound Hammer (Random House), was described as “a steampunk collision of heroes, mermaids, pirates, and good old-fashioned Americana” by Booklist and was a New York Public Library Best Children’s Book 2009 for Reading and Sharing.  The trilogy continues with The Wolf Tree and The White City and has been described as “original and fresh” and “a unique way of creating fantasy.”  His new book The Prince Who Fell from the Sky was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month for May 2012.   John lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina with his wife and daughter.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

3 thoughts on “Deeper Thinking About Notebook Work Leave a comment

  1. My notebook is the receptical for all the ideas that pop into my mind at odd times. Often they’re insights about something that I need to clarify in my present project. It’s an ongoing way to make sure you don’t forget the important insights and inspriations.


  2. It is this kind of reflection that I fear we too easily dismiss as educators. So much to do, so little time, and this thing, this writing it down, gets pushed aside. Thank you for the reminder to pay more attention, write down those thoughts, and then revisit them.


  3. Yes oh yes! This ah-ha moment is coming to me so late in my teaching career but I am so thankful to you and Stacey for facilitating it. That is when I do the work of writing myself it informs my teaching in the most powerful way. Seems so obvious but missed and not modeled in the pre-packaged curriculum so widely inforced today. Also, I have been on the edge of this but haven’t had on site colleagues to spur my thinking. I think I am the only one who does Writer’s workshop at all so there you have it. So gratitude and more for all the sharing you do.


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