Connect Your Thoughts in a Writer’s Notebook + Giveaways

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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:

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From the BOOKS Category.
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From the TRAVEL Category.
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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.