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May 29, 2015

Reader's Notebook Makeover — Again!

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    You all know the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That is how I feel about the reader’s notebook. My post, "Reader’s Notebook Makeover," chronicled my journey for the ultimate student-friendly version. I was feeling better about the notebook that resulted from that search — so much so that I modeled my teaching from the notebook. But as the year progressed and the more we used the notebook, it became apparent that the system was flawed. I wasn't quite sure what was wrong, I just knew that something was amiss. Students used my teacher model as a resource to make sure that their notebooks were in order and to record their thinking about their reading, but still . . .

    Fast-forward to the present time and the conversation that I knew that I needed to have with my students regarding their use of the current reader’s notebook. One thing I can count on is that my students are brutally honest. Not in a mean way, they are just honest. I gave them some time to think and asked for feedback regarding the notebook. They were required to think about what worked well and what was inconvenient. They are fully aware that I take their feedback seriously and implement what makes sense. This time was no different.

     

    Strengths and Concerns of the Current Notebook

     

    I love using exit tickets as a means to find out what my students are thinking. My post "Using Exit Tickets as a Quick Assessment Tool" served as a reminder of this method to get students to express their concerns. Exit tickets are a no-pressure, anonymous, and safe vehicle for students to express themselves honestly without feeling put on the spot. It ensures that everyone’s opinion is heard and considered. Exit tickets were the method that I used for student feedback.

    Here’s a sampling of their thoughts:

    Using a binder with sections helped with organization

    Colorful tabs for each unit made it easy to locate the notes

    Separating the sections was good

    Loose-leaf binders made it easy to move notes from section to section

    I did not have to worry about losing mentor text because it lived in the notebook

     
      
     
      
     

    On the other hand . . .

    Loose-leaf paper was easy to lose once it was ripped

    There needs to be a place for notes that are no longer used

    There were sections that were not needed (i.e. glossary, reading goals)

    Mentor text should live in a folder, not the notebook

      
     
      

     

    My students certainly gave me food for thought. Normally I would just take their thoughts and try to tweak the notebook myself. This time I think I am going to encourage them to become very active in the redesign process using the time that we have left in the school year to make improvements. We can work out the kinks so that I can roll out the new and improved version for September 2015. I have already redesigned my cover to reflect my theme for the new year. Can you tell that I am in a Dr. Seuss state of mind? Tune in this fall to see what the reader’s notebook has morphed into.

    Pearls of Wisdom — Enjoy the summer and be well! Take the time to re-energize.

    I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my posts this year. I look forward to the new journey in the fall where I get to share more ideas with you!

    You all know the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That is how I feel about the reader’s notebook. My post, "Reader’s Notebook Makeover," chronicled my journey for the ultimate student-friendly version. I was feeling better about the notebook that resulted from that search — so much so that I modeled my teaching from the notebook. But as the year progressed and the more we used the notebook, it became apparent that the system was flawed. I wasn't quite sure what was wrong, I just knew that something was amiss. Students used my teacher model as a resource to make sure that their notebooks were in order and to record their thinking about their reading, but still . . .

    Fast-forward to the present time and the conversation that I knew that I needed to have with my students regarding their use of the current reader’s notebook. One thing I can count on is that my students are brutally honest. Not in a mean way, they are just honest. I gave them some time to think and asked for feedback regarding the notebook. They were required to think about what worked well and what was inconvenient. They are fully aware that I take their feedback seriously and implement what makes sense. This time was no different.

     

    Strengths and Concerns of the Current Notebook

     

    I love using exit tickets as a means to find out what my students are thinking. My post "Using Exit Tickets as a Quick Assessment Tool" served as a reminder of this method to get students to express their concerns. Exit tickets are a no-pressure, anonymous, and safe vehicle for students to express themselves honestly without feeling put on the spot. It ensures that everyone’s opinion is heard and considered. Exit tickets were the method that I used for student feedback.

    Here’s a sampling of their thoughts:

    Using a binder with sections helped with organization

    Colorful tabs for each unit made it easy to locate the notes

    Separating the sections was good

    Loose-leaf binders made it easy to move notes from section to section

    I did not have to worry about losing mentor text because it lived in the notebook

     
      
     
      
     

    On the other hand . . .

    Loose-leaf paper was easy to lose once it was ripped

    There needs to be a place for notes that are no longer used

    There were sections that were not needed (i.e. glossary, reading goals)

    Mentor text should live in a folder, not the notebook

      
     
      

     

    My students certainly gave me food for thought. Normally I would just take their thoughts and try to tweak the notebook myself. This time I think I am going to encourage them to become very active in the redesign process using the time that we have left in the school year to make improvements. We can work out the kinks so that I can roll out the new and improved version for September 2015. I have already redesigned my cover to reflect my theme for the new year. Can you tell that I am in a Dr. Seuss state of mind? Tune in this fall to see what the reader’s notebook has morphed into.

    Pearls of Wisdom — Enjoy the summer and be well! Take the time to re-energize.

    I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my posts this year. I look forward to the new journey in the fall where I get to share more ideas with you!

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