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Connect Your Thoughts in a Writer’s Notebook + Giveaways

Connect The Thoughts_FC_HiRes
Chronicle Books is giving away THREE copies of this journal (i.e., one copy to three different readers). Leave a comment on this post if you’d like to win a copy of Connect the Thoughts.

Last month, I was put on brain rest for two weeks in order to get better after having a concussion.  Brain rest in my world meant no driving, no news (print, online, or TV), no decision-making, and very little computer use.  (It was supposed to be no computer use, but I was able to negotiate two 15-minute computer sessions/day, when I was up to it, with my doctor.)  Thankfully, we were on vacation here at Two Writing Teachers.  However, I had to stop chronicling my daughter’s life on our family-only blog. It also meant I couldn’t work on any writing projects — at all — for two weeks.

If you read Franki Sibberson’s Nerdy Book Club post about her concussion, then you know how frustrating it is to stop something that fuels you as a person.  For Franki it was reading.  For me, it was writing.  I was unable to sit down on my computer, like I do every day,to  just write.  Every time I spent more than 15 minutes on the computer, my head hurt so much I had to lay down.  Therefore, I stopped trying to sneak-in writing sessions.

Then I remembered I could still write by using a writing implement and putting my thoughts down on paper! I needed some direction about what to write about since I wasn’t supposed to overtax my brain.  Therefore, I picked up Connect the Thoughts: A Journal (Chronicle Books, 2013), which is a geared towards kids six and up.  I thought it might be fun to play around with words and pictures in this fun little notebook.

When you open Connect the Thoughts, you discover it’s divided into ten categories: books, dreams, family, food, friends, ideas, movies, music, travel, and everything else.  It’s essentially a “time capsule” about someone’s life (Think: kid version of The Book of Myself.) Here’s how writers can use this journal:

This journal is for you to keep track of yourself — to connect all your thoughts in one place. It is set up so that you can connect your thoughts however you want. You can connect thoughts in writing. You can connect thoughts in sketches. You can connect thoughts in glue or spackle or glitter or highlighter or graphs (If you want.)

In other words: there’s no one way to use this journal.  While I found myself free writing on some pages, I found myself using the dots to draw lines and boxes on other pages.  I bopped around the categories using the lean prompts at the bottom of the pages to get me going.

Examples of some lean prompts from the family category include:

    • Your family traditions
    • The family member you most resemble | The family member you least look like
    • The good stories from your family’s past — the ones you wish you’d been around for

Examples of some lean prompts from the movies category include:

    • Genre your life would be as a movie | Title of your life as a movie
    • What you’d wear on the red carpet
    • Script and storyboard fo rthe scene “What happened this morning” | “tonight” | “right now”

Fun, right?  Here’s a peek at a few of the pages I completed while I was on brain rest:

Click on the image to enlarge.
From the BOOKS Category.
Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.
From the TRAVEL Category.
Click on the image to enlarge.

Now that life is back to normal, I can write on the computer again.  However, there was something wonderful about getting back to writing on paper, which I rarely do since I’ve digitized so much of my life.  (I’ve been thinking more how I can use digital and paper since the concussion and even more since I read Cathy Mere’s guest post, “Notebook Mayhem,” on Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Sharing Our Notebooks Blog.) Using  Connect the Thoughts reminded me I can and should write in both mediums every day.

Want to win a copy of this notebook for yourself or for one of your students?  Read the giveaway information below:

  • This giveaway is three copies of for a copy of Connect the Thoughts: A Journal .  Many thanks to Chronicle Books for sponsoring this giveaway.
  • To enter for a chance to win a copy of  Connect the Thoughts: A Journal each reader may leave one comment about the concept of this notebook or writing/drawing in the classroom in the comments section of this post.
  • All comments left on or before Saturday, September 7th, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. EST will be entered into a random drawing using a random number generator on Sunday, September 8th  I will announce the winner’s name at the bottom of this post by Tuesday, September 10th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Chronicle will ship the book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field.)

Comments are now closed.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on this post.  I used a random number generator and the Kathleen Armstrong, Holly Mueller, and Erik Wittmer’s commenter numbers were selected. Therefore, they’ll each win a copy of Connect the Thoughts.

Erik wrote:

I’m thinking that some of my fifth graders who get stuck and don’t know what to write about could use this fun book. I too have used the Smashbook before to provide some at home ways to keep their notebook fresh.

Glad to see that your back to writing and hope the concussion symptoms are gone.

Holly wrote:

I had a friend in high school who kept a sketch journal, and I was continually awed and inspired by it. I love the process of drawing along with writing, and with the popularity of graphic novels in my classroom, I can see a lot of kids choosing this kind of journaling and adding images to their writing. I love it!

Kathleen wrote:

My mind is spinning with ideas. I’ve started Slice of Life in my fifth grade this year and having a copy of this book in the classroom would help the “dormant” writers with ideas to jump start their writing. I’m really excited about the start of school this year, and this is my 40th year of teaching!

Finally, thank you again to Chronicle Books for sponsoring this giveaway.

Stacey Shubitz View All

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

60 thoughts on “Connect Your Thoughts in a Writer’s Notebook + Giveaways Leave a comment

  1. I would love to have a copy of the book in my 6th grade classroom. Karen’s idea of putting it in the writing center makes perfect sense. It inspires me to pull together other books I have like this one and find a spot so students can easily access them.

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  2. I love when notebooks contain doodles and drawings along with the writing. Kids love Amelia’s Notebooks, Doodlebug, and other books with characters that write and doodle. I’m sure they would be fond of this book too! Glad to hear you are feeling better after resting your brain.

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  3. I had a friend in high school who kept a sketch journal, and I was continually awed and inspired by it. I love the process of drawing along with writing, and with the popularity of graphic novels in my classroom, I can see a lot of kids choosing this kind of journaling and adding images to their writing. I love it!

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  4. For so many years, I used pen and paper almost exclusively for writing with the exception of professional reports. Now I have transition to paperless and find it difficult to produce on paper. I do not want to lose that experience all together.

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  5. My mind is spinning with ideas. I’ve started Slice of Life in my fifth grade this year and having a copy of this book in the classroom would help the “dormant” writers with ideas to jump start their writing. I’m really excited about the start of school this year, and this is my 40th year of teaching!

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  6. Love it! I often look at journals with this quick-prompt type of concept, thinking that I would write more if I didn’t have to think about what to write, but I have never felt like I could splurge to spend the money on one. Plus, because I am also always trying to be more aware of the “little moments” in life to turn into writing pieces, I feared that this might make me a “lazy writer.” Rather, what I have found, as life constantly speeds up, I have just become so inconsistent with my writing time that I think I would rather follow a quick-n-easy (and fun) prompt, than not write at all! Right?! 🙂 j.

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  7. I love the idea of this notebook! I think I could use it on Friday mornings for an “outside of writing workshop” writing time. I was already planning on having that on Friday mornings, but this book would be a great help for ideas. I love that it gives the freedom to write or draw, as some of my students find it easier to communicate their thoughts in pictures rather than words. I think it would a great “time capsule” idea for the year. Fill it up while there in my class and keep it at home as a reminder of their 5th grade selves. Wonderful resource! Thank you!

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  8. It would be a great book to keep in a writing center if you only had one copy. As those above have said, it’s a great source of ideas if you are stuck! Of course, I’d have my own one to write in, because there’s nothing better than sharing your heart and soul with your writers. Teachers that write with their students and use it as modeling seem to produce much stronger writers and those willing to take risks!

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  9. I like the idea of the structure yet also an open format. Drawing/doodling is also important to get the writing process going for some.

    I love the sample of the prompts – nice and open ended yet still providing structure to help those who may still be struggling when told to “just write.”

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  10. I’ve always wanted to start a journal but those empty pages are intimidating to me. However this sounds like a fun approach. BTW, glad to hear you are better. It reminds me of the time I was pregnant with triplets (two years after having twins). I couldn’t read anything without getting a dizzy headache.

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  11. My daughter would LOVE to use this! I am a 3rd grade writing teacher and have started using a notebook for each student (either spiral or marble composition book). I wish my school system could afford to purchase a copy for all of my students!

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  12. I have my students write in their actual notebooks for their 5 minute Sacred Writing Time (Corbett Harrison), then during their own writing they choose which medium to write in according to where they are in their thinking. During either they’re allowed to use pictures, graphs or anything else that gets their point across. They love being able to write whatever pops into their head during the SWT, which also helps them with choosing topics later.

    Glad you’re feeling better!!

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  13. I think this would be a wonderful way to get children into real writing. They could keep the journals and then look back on them, kind of like looking at photo albums 🙂

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  14. I have really fallen in love with reading. But honestly, I’m still trying to fa in love with writing. Keeping a journal and leaving time for writing by hand is so helpful. Now I just have to put it into my schedule and not feel guilty about taking time away from teaching to write!

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  15. So thrilled you’re doing better – please take care of yourself.
    The book idea is a fabulous way to connect to the inner self of images. I’m connecting to so many possibilities with this – even ways to capture the images/text and upload it to digital so that it can live in both places. Even shared thoughts between generations.

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  16. I love that the sketch is important in notebooks…of course I would always prefer words over sketch…student’s, at least to start with love sketch. I also still love the feel of an ink pen in my hands. The short ideas to write about make it so adult and student friendly. xo

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  17. Brain rest — wow! only sounds “fun” in theory, but I’m sure that would drive me crazy also. Glad you picked up this book though. It seems to have a lot of “non-threatening” writing ideas that any kid could approach. It also makes me think of lots of good read-alouds that could accompany some of the prompts. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Loved all the connect-a-dot books as a kid. And kids need to use graphics to activate the right side of their brains! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  19. Glad to hear that you’re feeling better. I love keeping a writer’s notebook, but have been stuck for ideas, especially when all I can think of is negative thoughts. Would love to be more positive!

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  20. I am glad you have recovered! This week when I passed out writing notebooks one of the students said she really needed a sketching notebook too (of course I obliged). I am glad there are resources that encourage this connection.

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  21. My entire teaching career has been in Title I schools. Some come with a lot of baggage. And a lot keep things bottled up and it begins to affect their behavior. To help them I encourage all of my students to write in a journal (a spiral notebook that I provide them). And I promise that whatever they write will be between them and me. I think having them write out their feelings helps them deal with things that they’re not able to change. And when we sit down to talk about something they’ve written we try to come up with alternate ways to deal with their feelings, or what they could do better the next time. I need to take my own advise and start writing in a journal. I think it’ll be a relaxing exercise for me.

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  22. So glad your concussion has healed. I’d love to have this resource for those days when I’m just stuck and don’t know what to write! It looks like it could also be a good resource for classroom notebooks.

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  23. Aside from being a part-time public school teacher, I also home school
    my 5th grade daughter. This book would be a wonderful way to join my daughter when she writes and commit to my own writing journey.
    Isabel

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  24. What a fun way to connect the dots in your life! I would love to use this one day with my girls. And I know plenty of students who could be successful with this resource too! Thanks for the opportunity to check out the journal.

    So glad that you are back to writing Stacey! I can’t even imagine . . .

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  25. This looks so fun. I have been pen paling with an 8 year old. This started as a school project for her and we decided to continue it. I have noticed without the prompting from class and a teacher her letters have shortened and become further apart. I’ve been using ideas from Keri Smith’s “Wreck This Journal” and “Finish This Book” to get her reengaged. It seems to be working. This book looks like it has some great ideas!

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  26. Love this ..I may use some of these ideas for writer’s notebooks this year. Thank you, as always, for sharing. Glad you are on the mend.

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  27. Thanks for sharing your little window into this notebook. I still use both; although, I find myself more and more composing on the computer. My students would love this book, and I like the idea of using it as a gift. For the SOLC last year, I gave journals as one of the prizes. For two of my boys, I found little notebooks made with elephant poop. They loved the joke.

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  28. First, hope you are all better now! Secondly, I love this idea. Have been thinking a lot lately about creativity and my lack of it. Part of the problem for me is imagining different possibilities. We keep a writer’s notebook in my classroom ala TCRWP Units of Study. But this notebook offers a whole different way to keep a notebook which could open up lots of possibilities for kids. Even if I don’t win it, I’m going to check it out- for myself as much as for my students!
    Great post- thank you!

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  29. I’m thinking that some of my fifth graders who get stuck and don’t know what to write about could use this fun book. I too have used the Smashbook before to provide some at home ways to keep their notebook fresh.

    Glad to see that your back to writing and hope the concussion symptoms are gone.

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  30. This sounds like a great resource, Stacey. Even kids (or adults) who do write daily sometimes need a little help. Connect the Thoughts seems like it would be perfect for helping writers branch out in new directions.
    Personally, my journal writing is done the old-fashioned way, as is most of my other writing. With blog posts, I revise as I type it into the computer. Aren’t we lucky to have so many options! Glad you’re feeling better, and thanks for sharing this book!
    Catherine

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  31. My daughter would love this. She has many writer’s notebooks around the house, but I think she would enjoy the opportunity to sketch along with her writing. Connect the Thoughts sounds like a fantastic mentor text for young writers!

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  32. I’d love to win a copy and share it with my fourth grade students. I found a reflective teaching journal that I wrote 17 years ago when I started in the district I am still teaching in. It is my goal and promise to myself to continue that this year.

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  33. I went to the Chronicle Books website and also found My Listography. Connect the Thoughts: A Journal and My Listography are now officially on my shopping list – for myself and my granddaughters. Wonderful!

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  34. I think this would be a great addition to include in a summer writing camp for students. It would give many ways to begin and be a great antidote to writer’s block. Thanks for sharing! Glad your brain rest has served you well. 🙂

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  35. This notebook is adorable. I think that it’s so important to have a writer’s notebook as part of the English classroom, regardless of what grade. It allows students time to write every day and reflect on readings, their life, and emotions. That’s such an important skill to have not only in the classroom, but in every day life and this notebook promotes that. This notebook would be perfect for a student in the classroom who is a more visual learner or to get students who think that writing is pointless interested in writing in the first place.
    -Kaitlyn
    theduckandtheowl@gmail.com

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  36. Stacey – I played around this summer with a Smashbook, which is like scrapbooking for writing. Have you heard of them? I, too, have gone digital and found the act of putting pen to paper again to be daunting!

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  37. Happy that you’re back in the swing, Stacey, but the good out of that is that you re-connected with writers notebooks again! This book sounds useful for students of a variety of ages and different kinds of writing, too. Thanks for sharing it, and your notebook, too!

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  38. I’ve had the opposite problem for the past year – my wrist injury (as yet unsolved) makes it painful to write by hand, so I have shifted to totally writing with a keyboard. I really, REALLY miss having a notebook.

    The first thing I thought about when I read about the Connect the Thoughts journal was that would be a great end of the year gift for students. I love the idea of prompts with freedom. In my writers’ workshop this year I want to help students see that there are many different ways to write about the same topic. I don’t like being stuck in one genre at a time, as our writing program encourages, but rather to spend time exploring a genre to add to the toolbox, and keeping all genres open for students.
    I’m very excited for the start of our school year. Three days in so far and I have some wonderful second grade writers!

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  39. So glad to hear you have recovered. Concussion can be so nasty.
    Love the concept of this book. I used writer’s notebooks in my gr. 3 classroom and the children used them almost every day. Sometimes just a s a starting point for their other writing. I prefer to write with pen for my own writing. Just love the feel of paper to pen and see the pages growing.

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  40. Love the idea of this notebook, and I think kids would as well. I am having more and more students the last few years that really want some type of sketch with their notebook entries. I’m not usually artistic, but I’ve been starting to add sketches into mine as well so I can show them a mentor text. Thanks for sharing!

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  41. I have always liked the feel of pen on paper. For some reason it makes me feel like my thoughts are more present than when I type (although it’s not as fast!). This resource looks like it’d be great for families or for the classroom. I like having lots of different ways to get kids generating topics.

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