Dear Kids… A Post You Can Share With Your Students on How To Use Writing Notebooks Home

Dear Teachers,

Inspired by a recent conversation I had with some fourth graders, today I want to share a post with you that is also something you can share with your students. Feel free to read, display, adapt, or otherwise share with your third fourth, fifth graders, and middle schoolers.


Dear Kids,

By now I’m sure your teacher has introduced you to your writer’s notebook. You’ve probably even written quite a few entries by now, and maybe even picked one idea to stick with, and turn into a published piece. It’s possible that some of you have even published a piece of writing already this year! Way to go!

I want to give you, the writers, a few ideas about how to keep your writing life going, even when you are not at school. Some of you love to write things other than what’s being worked on at school, and a writing notebook is the perfect tool for doing this at home.

Here are a few tips for you:

  1. When you write a new entry in your writer’s notebook at home, make sure to skip a few lines, or turn to a fresh new page to keep everything organized and easy to read.
  2. It helps if you make a heading so that you’ll be able to easily see at-a-glance what each entry in your notebook is about. When you look back at your entries, these will help you remember the gist of what you wrote about without having to reread the entire thing.
  3. It also helps to put the date on each entry so that you can see how much writing you’re doing at home and at school. Some of you might write more in one place than the other and it helps to know that about yourself.
  4. I prefer to write in pen in my notebook. Pencil gets smudged and hard to read after a while – especially because I take my notebook everywhere with me. I also don’t like to erase because I want to be able to see all the changes I made. I just put a line through something, or stick a post-it over it if I want to change it.
  5. I also prefer to write only on one side of the page. The ink from my pen bleeds through and makes it hard to read if I write on both sides. Plus, the back side of each page is a handy place where I can stick post-its with reminders or changes or ideas. (I also like to fill up my notebooks a little faster. It feels good to fill up a notebook and start a fresh new one that’s not all worn out from carrying it everywhere. A new notebook helps me write even more!)
  6. I also like to sketch, make webs, lists, diagrams, charts, and maps in my writer’s notebook. Often, there isn’t a ton of time at school to work on these kinds of idea starters, so at home is a great place to do as many as I want. In the back of my notebook, I keep a list of things like this to try.
  7. At home, I always keep my notebook in my backpack for school—even if I’m home for the entire weekend or a vacation . As soon as I’m done writing, I put it straight back so that I don’t forget it.

At school, your whole class is probably learning a lot about just one type of writing. But at home, you could work on any type of writing you choose: comics, informational writing, lists, how-to’s, fantasy, sci-fi, letters to people, poems and songs. Anything, really.

I hope you’ll enjoy writing more than ever this year – at home AND at school!

Sincerely,

Beth


Teachers, I hope you’ll find ways to encourage your students to write as much as they can at home and at school this year. With family nights and open houses this time of year, I hope you’ll find this post helpful for brainstorming ideas for how to make this happen!