Supporting Student Writers To Grow Notebook Ideas

Student writers, frequently need extra guidance and support in the early stages of the new school year. 

To develop that essential momentum and confidence necessary for successful writing, your input is of critical importance. 

They present as inexperienced writers. They are learning to trust a new teacher, new surroundings, and maybe new classmates.

It takes a time to adapt to new routines and expectations. One of the things they want to know is-What does this teacher expect of me as a reader and writer? 

How do we as teachers assist students to gain trust and develop momentum as writers?

Used appropriately, Writer’s notebooks allow developing writers to make stronger connections to the world surrounding them.

The harvesting and documenting of their writing lives provides an easy, informal way to start thinking about new topics and ideas. 

The young writer become increasingly more observant and this leads to increased engagement. With time and practice, the notebook becomes a purposeful collection zone for a myriad of ‘stuff’ to stimulate their writing lives. 

Embryonic writing ideas, experiments with words, favourite quotes, amazing facts and trivia, lists, dreams, wonderings and ideas for the future begin to emerge and spread across the notebook pages. The confidence to bravely venture into new writing realms grows with daily encouragement and support. 

The statement, ‘I don’t know what to write about,’ fades away submerged under an avalanche of potential ideas. 

It is important to gently lead inexperienced writers forward by revealing the hidden potential of this writer’s resource, showing them how it can play a vital role in their daily lives as writers.

Encourage every one of your writers to maintain a close connection to their writer’s notebook. Consider it a travelling companion. Keep it handy and write, draw, paste, anything that presents as a possible writing inspiration. Encourage writing beyond the four walls of your classroom. Writing isn't something we just do at school.

Encourage students to regularly reread their blossoming notebook entries. Have them excavate those hidden gems, to see if there are any entries that spark ideas for further writing.  Frequently, new ideas for writing emerges from older ones.

After a few weeks of notebook entries have been gathered conduct a silent share session, sometimes referred to as a gallery walk. Students select a page they believe best demonstrates their thinking and documenting as a writer. Leave that page open on a table/desktop and allow others to read, observe and note ideas they believe might assist them as fellow writers. Invite students to walk around the room silently, observing and making notes about the great things they are witnessing in notebooks.  

Following the silent sharing, bring the class together to allow time to discuss some of the great ideas gleaned from the gallery walk. Such actions nourish thinking and create fertile ground for ideas.


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