A few years ago I thought I had a brilliant idea. I created a master writer’s notebook since my notebook writing, which I shared with students during writing conferences and in minilessons, was spread out in several writer’s notebooks. Instead of carrying multiple writer’s notebooks with me when I conferred, I thought it would be easier to have a master notebook. However, recopying old entries into one master writer’s notebook was tedious. I gave up on my idea when the master notebook broke apart and went back to schlepping a few notebooks around with me whenever I conferred with students.
In late December I looked at the bookshelf in my office that holds many of my writer’s notebooks. I noticed I’ve amassed a lot of writer’s notebooks in the past decade (see photo). The “master writer’s notebook” sat among the notebooks filled with writing. I looked at it and sighed. A few minutes later I thought about creating a digital master writer’s notebook.
I opened Evernote and created a new notebook called “writer’s notebook.” Then, I read through my old notebooks in search of my favorite entries. I photographed writer’s notebook entries using the document camera feature in Evernote. Next, I applied tags to each entry based on the audience I could share it with (i.e., elementary school, middle school, adult audience, or general). I also added tags like “boxes and bullets,” “graphic organizer,” “literary essay,” “poetry,” and “writing exercise.” This gives me a variety of ways to search for entries when I need them.
Here’s a peek at how it looks on my Evernote Desktop:
And this is how the “writer’s notebook” notebook looks on my iPad:
It’ll take me awhile to go through all of my notebooks to put everything I need into Evernote. But for now, I have a master writer’s notebook in Evernote, which means I can access my notebook writing on my iPhone, on my iPad, and from my computer. Now I can bring my iPad into a classroom and confer with student writers. I don’t have to worry about bringing several writer’s notebooks with me since everything is in one place. All I have to do is open the “writer’s notebook” notebook in Evernote or do a keyword search for a given entry. Then I can show a student a writer’s notebook entry during a writing conference. I can also e-mail it to someone if the student needs or wants to use it as a mentor.
Finally, I want to give a hat tip to Mary Bellavance, Susan Dee, Deb Frazier, Katie Keier, Cathy Mere, and Karen Terlecky. These ladies led an incredible round table session at NCTE, which had me thinking about digital tools for the past two months. Thank you for the inspiration!
I am a literacy consultant who focuses on writing workshop. I've been working with K-6 teachers and students since 2009. Prior to that, I was a fourth and fifth-grade teacher in New York City and Rhode Island.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).
I live in Central Pennsylvania with my husband and children. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, doing Pilates, cooking, baking, making ice cream, and reading novels.