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September 18, 2014 Setting Up Writer’s Notebooks, Part 1 By Kriscia Cabral
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Before diving into the actual process of writing with students, I take time to allow them the opportunity to personalize their writer's notebooks. There is something special about taking a plain composition book and covering it with your very own pictures, quotes, knick-knacks, souvenirs, and magazine clippings. Beth Newingham shares smilar views in her post about personalizing notebooks as well. The process connects students with their notebooks, and gives them an endless amount of writing ideas for times when they can't think of anything to write about. 

     

    Set-up Basics

    I start with the outside of the composition book. I share with students that the outside of the composition book is where they can start the personalization of your writer's notebook.

    • Start with the questions, “What types of things describe you?” "How can you show those things visually?" Allow students the opportunity to share with a neighbor. If more clarification is needed, prompt with, “What types of things do you like?” I then share a few things that I like in order to get kids thinking.

    Once the ideas start to flow, I bring students back to attention. I show them how I visually represent the things I like by bringing out my own writer’s notebook. I ask, “What do you know about me just by looking at my notebook?” Students respond with facts they can assume based on the images on my notebook. What they see are pictures of my family and my favorite foods, quotes, stickers, and magazine clippings with inspirational words.

    I then ask students to take one minute to think by themselves about what types of items they would want on their writer’s notebook to represent themselves. I prompt them to share with a neighbor the ideas that they have. 

    • I ask students to make a list of possible items they plan to decorate their journal with. After making their list, students take a brown paper bag and fill it with the items they plan to use for decorations. (I try to do the introduction part of this activity at the end of the week so students have the weekend to collect their items. For example, I will introduce the project on a Friday and then students will decorate notebooks on Monday.)

    • I send an email to parents, explaining what writer's notebooks are and sharing that we will be decorating them on Monday. I ask that if they have pictures they are willing to part with, to please place them in their child’s brown bag.

     

    Decorating Day

    When students return with their items, we gather back and I have them devise a plan. I instruct everyone to lay out their items and think to themselves, “Where might my items go?” “What should go on the front?” “Back?”  After personal time is given for planning, I let the kids get started. Students take their time to glue on all of their personal touches (I bring in a few sheets of stickers and magazine clippings as emergency backup for those who could not collect as much).

    Once completed, we clean up and form into a sharing circle. Students take turns standing up and sharing one to three things that they've put on their notebook.

    The end result should be something students are proud of. The notebook should have a variety of personal items that students can refer to when they want to connect their writing to themselves.

    To preserve the notebook cover, I use either contact paper or Mod Podge over finished work.

     

    Pick an Item and Write

    Their first writing task is to choose one of the items that they glued onto their notebook and write about it. Students are encouraged to write whatever they'd like about the item. For organizational purposes, I request that students write this first piece of writing in the front of their writer's notebook. (I will expand on organizational techniques in my post next week.)

    If time permits, we will have "author's chair" time where students can share their writing.

     

    Next Steps

    The next step is to set up the inside of the notebook. Check out Setting Up Writer's Notebooks, Part 2: The Inside on how to create an inside setup that holds ideas, strategy practices, and moments in time as a way to get your students writing.

    Some books to inspire journaling and writer’s notebooks:

     

     

    How do you encourage writing in your classroom? Leave an idea or comment in the section below.

    I'd love to connect! Find me on Twitter.

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

    Before diving into the actual process of writing with students, I take time to allow them the opportunity to personalize their writer's notebooks. There is something special about taking a plain composition book and covering it with your very own pictures, quotes, knick-knacks, souvenirs, and magazine clippings. Beth Newingham shares smilar views in her post about personalizing notebooks as well. The process connects students with their notebooks, and gives them an endless amount of writing ideas for times when they can't think of anything to write about. 

     

    Set-up Basics

    I start with the outside of the composition book. I share with students that the outside of the composition book is where they can start the personalization of your writer's notebook.

    • Start with the questions, “What types of things describe you?” "How can you show those things visually?" Allow students the opportunity to share with a neighbor. If more clarification is needed, prompt with, “What types of things do you like?” I then share a few things that I like in order to get kids thinking.

    Once the ideas start to flow, I bring students back to attention. I show them how I visually represent the things I like by bringing out my own writer’s notebook. I ask, “What do you know about me just by looking at my notebook?” Students respond with facts they can assume based on the images on my notebook. What they see are pictures of my family and my favorite foods, quotes, stickers, and magazine clippings with inspirational words.

    I then ask students to take one minute to think by themselves about what types of items they would want on their writer’s notebook to represent themselves. I prompt them to share with a neighbor the ideas that they have. 

    • I ask students to make a list of possible items they plan to decorate their journal with. After making their list, students take a brown paper bag and fill it with the items they plan to use for decorations. (I try to do the introduction part of this activity at the end of the week so students have the weekend to collect their items. For example, I will introduce the project on a Friday and then students will decorate notebooks on Monday.)

    • I send an email to parents, explaining what writer's notebooks are and sharing that we will be decorating them on Monday. I ask that if they have pictures they are willing to part with, to please place them in their child’s brown bag.

     

    Decorating Day

    When students return with their items, we gather back and I have them devise a plan. I instruct everyone to lay out their items and think to themselves, “Where might my items go?” “What should go on the front?” “Back?”  After personal time is given for planning, I let the kids get started. Students take their time to glue on all of their personal touches (I bring in a few sheets of stickers and magazine clippings as emergency backup for those who could not collect as much).

    Once completed, we clean up and form into a sharing circle. Students take turns standing up and sharing one to three things that they've put on their notebook.

    The end result should be something students are proud of. The notebook should have a variety of personal items that students can refer to when they want to connect their writing to themselves.

    To preserve the notebook cover, I use either contact paper or Mod Podge over finished work.

     

    Pick an Item and Write

    Their first writing task is to choose one of the items that they glued onto their notebook and write about it. Students are encouraged to write whatever they'd like about the item. For organizational purposes, I request that students write this first piece of writing in the front of their writer's notebook. (I will expand on organizational techniques in my post next week.)

    If time permits, we will have "author's chair" time where students can share their writing.

     

    Next Steps

    The next step is to set up the inside of the notebook. Check out Setting Up Writer's Notebooks, Part 2: The Inside on how to create an inside setup that holds ideas, strategy practices, and moments in time as a way to get your students writing.

    Some books to inspire journaling and writer’s notebooks:

     

     

    How do you encourage writing in your classroom? Leave an idea or comment in the section below.

    I'd love to connect! Find me on Twitter.

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

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