This week on Two Writing Teachers, we each chose another co-author’s previously published post to feature as part of our very own Throwback Week. I am kicking it off, with a great one, originally posted by Dana. Enjoy!
Winter break is coming soon, replete with its promise of snowy days spent sledding down hills or curled up inside, watching the world turn white. Or, for those lucky enough to live or visit a warm climate, it is a chance to fuel up on vitamin D and long days outdoors. Winter break is a time for all of us, students and teachers alike, to stop and catch our collective breaths. It is a time for us to enjoy family, traditions, and good eats. Winter break can also be a wonderful time, for students and for teachers, to actually get some writing done.
In August, Dana gave us a peek inside her writer’s notebook. She shared a host of strategies she uses to generate ideas and to sketch out possibilities. This year, consider sending kids off to winter break with an armload of tips and goals set for ways they can spend some quality time with their writer’s notebooks. And, consider trying some of these strategies yourself!
During the first few weeks of school, many teachers graciously invite me into their classrooms to launch writer’s notebooks. I love talking to kids about the purpose of a writer’s notebook. We discuss what a writer’s notebook is (a place to collect ideas, to remember words, to take risks) and what a writer’s notebook isn’t (a journal, a sketchbook.) Then, I usually give the kids a peek inside my own writer’s notebook. Wanna see?
Sometimes, I make lists in my notebook:
Sometimes, I draw a quick sketch in my notebook:
I made that sketch when I was beginning a memoir about my childhood doll. I was trying to bring back as many memories of her as I could, so I sketched out my childhood home and thought about all the different things I did with my doll when I was younger.
Sometimes, I just want to get my thoughts out, unsure of what will become of them:
I wrote those thoughts as my daughter’s second birthday approached. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write. You can see in the upper right hand corner I was questioning, “Do I write her a letter? Write an essay? Maybe a poem?” I never did write anything, but I am so glad I saved those thoughts on paper. I know I will need them someday.
Sometimes, I make a timeline of events if I am writing a story…
…and then I zoom-in on each event from the timeline:
Sometimes, I see a text that inspires me. If I can, I copy it into my notebook:
Then, I will try it out myself:
Sometimes, I develop a character in my notebook:
Thinking through characters before I write always adds depth to my writing.
Sometimes, I collect words:
This is only a small peek into my writer’s notebook. There are loads of other entries (writing long, webs, favorite lines, visual note-taking, etc). Giving the kids a peek inside my own writer’s notebook shows them there is no “right” way to keep a notebook. There are endless possibilities.
It works every time. The kids are always eager to leave the carpet area and start writing in their very own writer’s notebooks.
Anna is a staff developer, literacy coach, and writer, based in New York City. She taught internationally in places such as Sydney, Australia; San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Auckland, New Zealand in addition to New York before becoming a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University (TCRWP). She has been an adjunct instructor in the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College, and teaches at TCRWP where she helps participants bring strong literacy instruction into their classrooms. Anna recently co-wrote Bringing History to Life with Lucy Calkins, part of the 2013 series Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing (Heinemann). She has been a researcher for Lucy Calkins, contributing especially to Pathways to the Common Core (Heinemann, 2012) and Navigating Nonfiction (Heinemann, 2010).