This summer I had the opportunity to be involved with the Red Clay Writing Project (RCWP) for two weeks. They are a part of the larger organization, the National Writing Project that is based in the USA.
During my Red Clay experience we did a LOT of writing! One of my biggest take away was how I became very attached to my writer’s notebook. I couldn’t believe how much my book meant to me by the end of the two weeks. I realized that this is the feeling I want my students to have about their notebooks.
So why did my notebook become so meaningful? Surely if I could finger that out my students could have the same experience.
|What I realized . . .||What I am now thinking . . .|
|1||I had chosen my own notebook. I wanted a notebook that would encourage me to write.||Students should decide what kind of writer’s notebooks they want to use and what they should look like.|
|2||Every day, there was a short writing time (10 minutes) before the main writing block. At the end of the two weeks, I had several different kinds of writing that I had started.||Short focus time can give every student, regardless of ability the chance to capture some sort of writing on the page in 10 minutes, and overtime have a small collection of potential writing ideas.|
|3||A prompt was provided that we could use or not use. This took the pressure off trying to think of something to write on the days when I was not feeling inspired. On days that I was inspired, I was good to go!||Providing a prompt can be a helpful starting point. It’s like a safety blanket that students can use when needed.
|4||I wrote about what I wanted to write about.||Students do not have to feel pressured to write on a specific topic.|
|5||I liked sharing small bits of my writing in my notebook.||Students can share small amounts of their writing.|
|6||I liked that I didn’t have to worry about sharing what I had in my notebook with others. I could concentrate on my entry instead of worrying about comments from other writers.||When students need to, they can be private about their writing.
|7||When I looked through my notebook, I liked that I have different types of writing, sketches, things I have taped in, etc.||Students should be encouraged to record their writing ideas in different ways.|
|8||I liked that it was okay to cross things out, skip lines, and have unfinished work. It’s not about having a perfect looking notebook.||Notebooks do not have to look perfect. Instead it should look like a place where thinking is happening.|
|9||I liked that I could write on one side of the page and if I wanted to say more about the same topic, I wrote on the opposite page.||Leaving the left hand side of the notebook empty gives the opportunity to revisit and add to a previous idea.|
|10||I decided what my writer’s notebook means to me.||A writer’s notebook should be meaningful.|
From this reflection, I came up with 10 things about a meaningful notebook that I want students to understand.
A Meaningful Writer’s Notebook means
1. You choose a special Writer’s notebook.
2. You write every day for at least 10 minutes.
3. You decide your writing topic.
4. You decide if you want to use a writing prompt.
5. You decide the writing you want to share.
6. You decide when you share.
7. You can write, sketch, put things in it, use colors, etc.
8. You are not trying to have a perfect notebook.
9. You revisit your writing and sometimes add more.
10. You write about things that are meaningful to you.
My plan is to share this list with my students to help them see how much ownership they have over their individual notebooks. I expect that once we start working, the students and I will tweak or change some of the items.