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Overview: Notebooks as a Writer’s Tool Blog Series

“A notebook is a receptacle, a tool, a way to hold on to things. Students should view notebooks as documents of their lives; they learn not only to honor what they see but to look in the first place. If students become more aware of the world around them and know there is a place for these observations, then this awareness will be more naturally included in their own writing. They will learn to think on the page, so their notions of what’s possible in writing become less limited.” -Joanne Hindley Salch

I love this quote from Salch, the coeditor of Schooltalk, which is published by NCTE. This quote appeared in 2001 in an article written largely by Ralph Fletcher, “Writer’s Notebook: A Place to Dream, Wonder, and Explore.” So much of what’s in this quote captures the spirit of our blog series about notebooks and their place, purpose, and importance in the lives of student writers.

The topic of this series is notebooks, but the true spotlight of the posts shines on the writers. Our goal is to foster writers who, at any age, habitually collect and grow ideas. Our posts detail high-leverage teaching moves, essential rituals and routines, and accessible strategies for teaching students to live writerly lives. Each approach can be transferred to any learning environment and to any writer– whether we are building the foundation and laying the groundwork for a writer’s notebook or using notebooks as a workbench for various genres of writing.

For the first time, we are going to try a Slow Twitter Chat. This graphic explains why and how it will work:

Slow twitter chat - infographic
Click on the image to enlarge.

Please join the conversation!

So…here’s the line up for Notebooks as a Writer’s Tool:

Betsy will kick off our blog series on writer’s notebooks tomorrow morning. With eloquence and deep thinking, she reminds all of us about what really matters in notebooks. You won’t want to miss this post.

Many of us understand how notebook energy wanes over the course of the year. Stacey’s post has concrete and easily implemented ideas for maintaining energy within the pages. You can read Stacey’s post on Monday.

On Tuesday, Kelsey will share amazing ideas for how we can build the foundations for notebooks in the writing lives of young writers. Especially if you’re a primary teacher, you won’t want to miss some of Kelsey’s ideas for building the foundation and laying the groundwork of writer’s notebooks.

Lanny will follow with concrete strategies for using notebooks. His Wednesday post will inspire all of us to think about important purposes for notebooks.

Notebook organization presents challenges. On Thursday, Kathleen’s post will describe how her third-graders have sectioned off parts of their notebooks and the importance of those sections in building writing lives.

Beth will share many ideas for differentiating writer’s notebooks, and her tips include suggestions for each stage of writing. I have no doubt her ideas will inspire you to rethink some of your students’ notebooks or writing tools. That’s on Friday.

My post on Saturday will address the different ways we can use our notebooks as a playground and workbench for various genres of writing.

Most writers keep notebooks of some sorts and it’s easy to imagine how entries could have inspired books. Deb will round out our series as she shares some mentor notebooks and picture books that illustrate the importance of notebooks in the lives of writers.


  • This giveaway is for a free 20-minute classroom Skype session with author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater whose popular blog Sharing Our Notebooks is an excellent resource for notebookers of all ages and interests.
  • For a chance to win this Skype session with Amy, please leave a comment about this or any blog post in this blog series by Sunday, November 11th at 6:00 p.m. EST. Betsy Hubbard will use a random number generator to pick the winner’s commenter number. His/her name will be announced in the ICYMI blog post for this series on Monday, November 12th.
  • Please leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so Betsy can link you up with Amy if you win.
  • If you are the winner of the Skype session, Betsy will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – AMY LV. Please respond to her e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. A new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.


Melanie Meehan View All

I am the Writing and Social Studies Coordinator in Simsbury, CT, and I love what I do. I get to write and inspire others to write! Additionally, I am the mom to four fabulous daughters and the wife of a great husband.

6 thoughts on “Overview: Notebooks as a Writer’s Tool Blog Series Leave a comment

  1. This blog series is coming at the perfect time! Yesterday, I found a piece of paper where I had written down two goals for the summer. One was about looking more closely at learning progressins, and the other: START WRITING SERIOUSLY IN MY JOURNAL. Thanks for this jump start.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would love that to become a thing in our school…

    On Sun, 4 Nov 2018 at 9:02 am, TWO WRITING TEACHERS wrote:

    > Melanie Meehan posted: ““A notebook is a receptacle, a tool, a way to hold > on to things. Students should view notebooks as documents of their lives; > they learn not only to honor what they see but to look in the first place. > If students become more aware of the world around them ” >


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