SOL2015 A Chance To Share My Writer's Notebook With Inexperienced Writers





Today I had the opportunity to share a collection of my writer’s notebook with a group of young writers from a school in Melbourne’s west. I was working with 160 Grade 5 and 6 students, along with their teachers as we explored possibilities for the development of the student’s own notebooks. 



I have shared my notebooks many times across the years and given that I have been using a notebook for more than 30 years, there is a quite an array. I impressed upon the students that my notebooks reflect my way of operating with a notebook and that it may not necessarily be the way they choose to develop a notebook. Every writer must find a way unique to them when using a notebook.


I informed them that to be a useful resource for any writer, a notebook requires regular feeding. You must feed it the ‘stuff’ of your life. I hope they begin to see their notebook as a travelling companion. It is important to challenge the notion that reading and writing are just for school. Encouraging students to take their notebooks out into the world gives them greater ownership of their writing lives.



I asked these young writers to accept certain challenges when scanning my notebooks.
I urged them to be:
  • Curious learners
  • Text detectives
  • Explorers
  • Thinkers and Questioners
  • Collectors and Note-takers
They were given notebooks to share in small groups. They scanned and perused. They pondered and wondered. They discussed entries and puzzled over artifacts. As I worked the room checking in on groups, questions constantly came my way.


When we gathered to share the findings of their action research a list was compiled. They had noted:


Lots of beginnings
Poetry
Memoir
Reports
Recounts
Lists –so many lists
Quotes
Ephemera- tickets, business cards, greeting cards, messages, emails
Photographs
Drawings
Cartoons
Opinion pieces
Maps, plans
Extracts from mentor texts
Writing craft ideas
Memory markers
Facts  -some unusual facts
Each notebook was different in size
Some notebooks had no lines
All the notebooks had strong protective covers.
Many of them had personalized covers
'There was lots of writing.'



Each time I do this, I marvel at what catches the eye of young writers. The questions asked and the observation made impressed me greatly. I had the students tell a partner one thing (at least) they would begin to include in their notebooks as a result of viewing mine. I then got them to share with me. Next week we will see what progress has been made. The aim is to close the gap between intention and action. 


There is energy present among this group of learners. We must sustain such energy moving forward. The support of teachers will be vital here. The teachers also have writer’s notebooks to feed with raw stuff. I’m excited about the prospects for next week. It has proved to be a celebration in the past. I have little doubt this group of young writers  and their teachers will embrace the challenge of producing rich and varied notebook entries. Entries that begin to show their interests and personalities on the page.









Comments

  1. Great post about the power of Writer's Notebooks! I need to make my own a more serious part of my writing life so my students can do that, too. Right now I feel like we have the notebooks but they aren't really working as tools for idea collections or noticings. How did your own writer's notebook become such an important tool for you?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kathleen, An interesting question you have posed. The notion of being a collector seemed to work so well for me. Since childhood I have been a collector, so the notebook was embraced so readily. My broader writing owes so much to my notebook entries across time. In fact the book I am currently working on is primarily about this three decade journey. .

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  2. Great post about the power of Writer's Notebooks! I need to make my own a more serious part of my writing life so my students can do that, too. Right now I feel like we have the notebooks but they aren't really working as tools for idea collections or noticings. How did your own writer's notebook become such an important tool for you?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I felt excited to see how you are using your life work to create interest in today's students. At the same time I felt sad as I think how much the testing and test prep emphasis is taking time away from me to really work with my students in developing their writer's notebooks. Perhaps there is still time for a few changes this school year!

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  4. The difficulty in explaining writer's notebooks to students (and teachers) is that they are so personal in how they are developed. Too often they want the "right" way to keep one. What a treat for these students to view the variety in each of your notebooks. I hope you will report back on your next visit to view their notebooks. Thanks for this glimpse!

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