My Teacher Has A Writer's Notebook Too!

As another school year is  about to commence here in Australia an increasing number of teachers are taking up the challenge of maintaining their own Writer’s Notebook Those who are just beginning to develop their writing lives often request examples of the types of entries one might gather when starting out. Entries, that will serve as examples to share with their students. Entries that will show students how their teacher interacts with the world.  

 If you are experiencing trouble launching into your own  writing, maybe these ideas might prompt your thinking. They may spark a connection to a topic/idea you feel strongly about; -enough to get the pen moving across the page...
I also hope we begin to see the whole class topic, 'My Holidays' disappear as a starting point for writing! It saddens me when this happens. It sets the bar of expectation so low for your teaching, and denies what we know about effective writing instruction.
Much better that classrooms hum with rich conversation about what is important to write about for each individual writer. Time invested in pre writing activities such as -drawing, discussing, brainstorming, listing, planning and reading enables student writers to gather the necessary ingredients to write about what matters to them. These are the necessary preliminaries!
 The student writer receives a clear message from the teacher -I trust you to come up with ideas! I'm not going to tell you what to write, but I am going to do everything in my power to support you to find out what it is you want to say as a writer! I want you to find your true voice as a writer.
All the time this pre-writing is going on, the teacher is  simultaneously sharing examples of their writing, guiding writers to find a focus for writing, asking lots of questions and establishing a conscious sense of community.  Ideas begin to float on a sea of talk.
So, I urge you to dive straight in and start filling the pages of your own notebook with words, drawing, maps, photographs, quotes and the like.  Your own writing is such a powerful model for your students. I urge you to take the risk...
To further support you, I offer up these possibilities:

Write about the first book you remember reading
Create a Life Map to show events in your life so far
Write an entry about one of the items on your Life Map.
Write an entry over any topic of your choosing. Write about your personal opinion
Write a response to a book you are currently reading
Write about the meaning behind a treasured object - what memories do you associate with that object?
Create a plan for a memoir piece
Write a memoir including all the sensory details and what you discovered about yourself from that slice of life experience
Make a list of your personal choosing. E.g. Things that take too much time
Write to influence - Choose an issue that is important to you, and write an opinion piece
Respond to an issue in the news
Write a short narrative about being sick as a child
Write about a place you would go right now and why
Write about something that was no fun at all
Make a list of things you still wish to do
Write about a time when you knew you were in trouble
How did you spend your pocket money?
Write about an embarrassing moment
Write about your relationship with weekends
Write a list about things you don’t need
Write about noise
Write about silence
Write about pretending
Write about disappointment
Write about joy
Make a list of settings you have been in during the holidays
Make a list of questions you wished you had asked
Write about your feet
Write about your treasures
Write about something that has changed
Write about something you consider to be fake
Write about something you wish you could still do
Write and DRAW about a place that is important to you
Create a map of a place you recall from your childhood

A single entry will start you on your way...


  1. Ahh, Alan, and just in time for the 30 day challenge too! This is a great list. Not only will I use it, but I'm going to use it with my students too. Thanks!


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