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Discussion of Chapter 4: The Writer's Notebook


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Comments (12)

Anonymous said

at 4:39 pm on Jun 15, 2008

I started a writer's notebook with my summer school classes. I have been writing in journals for years, so it hasn't been that difficult to make myself write. The difference for me is that I am focusing much more on actual writing...stories, lessons, descriptions, etc. instead of just the ramblings from my mind, that generally make no sense. I am finding myself revisiting prior pages to look for ideas to expand upon. I can see where carrying this notebook with me everywhere I go will become addicting...an immediate place to put thoughts, questions, and observations, instead of waiting until I get home to vent into my personal journal. I really like the idea of making the first assignment be to make a collage in the front. This creates an immediate connection between students and their notebooks. I also like that the notebook is considered a place for "bad writing." I've yet to put my pictures in my notebook, but I did include this song lyric inside the front cover:

"2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to..."
-Anna Nalick, Breathe (2 AM)

Anonymous said

at 8:26 pm on Jun 23, 2008

I just found a very cool poster that I plan on putting in my room and also duplicating for my students to put in their notebooks.

The Only 12 1/2 Writing Rules You'll Ever Need
1. If you write everyday, you get better at writing everyday.
2. If it's boring to you, it's boring to your reader.
3. Get a writing routine, and stick with it.
4. Poetry does not have to rhyme. Poetry does not have to rhyme.
5. Resist stereotypes, in real life and in your writing.
6. Writers read. Writers read a lot. Writers read all the time.
7. Make lists of your favorite words and books and places and things.
8. There doesn't always have to be a moral to the story.
9. Always bring your notebook. Always bring a spare pen.
10. Go for walks. Dance. Pull weeds. Do the dishes. Write about it.
11. Don't settle on just one style. Try something new!
12. Learn to tell both sides of the story.
12 1/2. Stop looking at this poster. WRITE SOMETHING!

Anonymous said

at 9:17 pm on Jun 23, 2008

I created myself (along with my students) a writer's notebook early in the second semester...modeled after Ralph Fletcher's A Writer's Notebook: Unlocking the Writer within You...created the colorful tabs and everything! My problem was/is that I did not write along with my students. Too busy using that time to prepare and do other things (probably yearbook stuff!). I'm now at Item-Review Committee Meeting for our End-of-Level English 11 Literacy Exam...but when I get home,I am going to renew my efforts to write in it the rest of the summer! By the way, I have been doing some advertising for this book and our reading group...maybe we'll have some more readers join us!

Anonymous said

at 9:32 pm on Jun 23, 2008

Jodi, I like your list! In the same Writer's Notebooks that my students kept, they liked your #7...making lists (can't remember what R. Fletcher calls his). I personally love #12.5! I'm attempting to model that now!
Back to the book...I'm going to borrow Ms. Penny's/Romano's sharinig of poetry. I need to incorporate more poetry within my thematic units, and this might be a good place to add more also.
On the topic of death...this made me think, my dad died several years ago, and I have never written about his passing. Why not? Painful? Might have helped me heal,though. I'm liking the thought of a Writer's Notebook when set up correctly...just need to develop a bit more "flailing"! These quick writes are great outlets for what students deal with every day...and we do like to write on that which we feel strongly.
On the topic of music...students love music! They come in the door asking for the same songs to be played over...and over...just to have it playing while they write. One of our favorites this year was Holding out for a Hero.
Just as a side note, you should ask Lisa Huff about the song she wrote and recorded for her AP Lang students!

Anonymous said

at 11:06 am on Jun 24, 2008

Mrs. G, I am also hoping to incorporate more poetry into the classroom. While I can appreciate poetry, I don't feel it is my strength in teaching, so I am hoping that immersing myself in it will boost my confidence. I received a poem yesterday from my subscription to 'Poem of the Week' that really moved me. It is called "Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World" by Sherman Alexie. It is interesting that you mentioned the passing of your father (I am so sorry), as this is the focus of the poem. I cannot empathize with your particular experience, but I have, unfortunately, lost many loved ones (particularly grandparents and students). There is some harsh language in the poem (just a warning if you want to check it out).
I have found myself writing about the death of one of my students in my notebook...it is comforting; it allows me to express my feelings yet there is comfort in knowing that I may never share them with anyone else.

Anonymous said

at 9:11 pm on Jun 24, 2008

I'm now back at home (for about 10 days...then off to Pre-AP training...which I am also really looking forward to!) and have my Writer's Notebook right here beside me...so tonight I begin to write! Honestly? I prefer typing...I think. I haven't consistently written in a notebook in so long, I really don't remember what I like or dislike about it! I think, though, that some of my students feel this way...many prefer to type as they draft. For a couple of reasons: 1) I type faster than I write and 2) it saves time. I have read, though, so many good things about Writers' Notebooks that I just have to give it a try!

Anonymous said

at 8:01 am on Jun 26, 2008

This is a site I found that sends a poem-a-day...http://www.shortpoems.org/poem/ Okay?

Anonymous said

at 8:10 am on Jun 26, 2008

Thanks! I am also adding these sites to my google reader...I think it is easier to stay on top of all the new posts by just going to the one site.

Lisa Huff said

at 5:26 pm on Jun 26, 2008

I've enjoyed reading Tammy & Jodi's discussion. I hate to admit this, but I've never used writer's notebooks in my more than a decade of teaching. I've always frowned on journal writing, not really seeing any benefit to having my students write to a prompt for bell work and then simply grading them for completion. Kittle's point about writing fluency is an interesting one. Perhaps there is merit to simply writing--if only for fluency sake. What I like about Kittle's approach is the structure. Her journal writing is not merely free writing with no end goal in mind. She's teaching specific skills, having students practice and play with these skills. Students are re-visiting the writing, choosing to throw out some, amend some, add to some, and stitch together a few to create longer pieces. I like this kind of writer's notebook. I love the quick writes. How to merge all this into my curriculum--where writing is not the only focus--is a bit tricky. I'm still not sure how to do that.

Anonymous said

at 9:02 pm on Jun 26, 2008

The tricky question is my most common one when I talk to teachers. I will say a couple of things in response. We need to look closely at our curriculum and ask hard questions about how it engages our students. It is all about engagement. I want them engaged in their own writing process because it always pays off. The other thing is that teachers in literature-heavy courses just vary units. They teach a novel for a few weeks, and then a writing-focused unit. We can use writing to support reading some of the time, but we have to realize we can't do it all of the time. Students need to study writing as its own content area some of the time, too. Then they really learn things about writing in all settings, not just about literature. I don't pretend it is easy. I wish I had enough time... but I never do.

Anonymous said

at 1:08 pm on Jul 7, 2008

I think the use of a writer's notebook in a lit-based English class is tricky -- how to keep the students engaged as writers but still moving forward with the literature as readers and writers? The fluency of writing that "filament launcher" notes above is so crucial, and the writer's notebook is the way to achieve it -- just writing each day makes it less scary and you discover things in your head that you had not realized you could write about. But how to tie that to lit? Is it enough to have intriguing ways for them to write about what we are reading? Then maybe their papers on the work will be better in the end because they will have really thought through them? I use _Shakespeare Set Free_ for teaching _Othello_, and I follow their journaling plans. The students are writing about the play and connections to their lives throughout ... and maybe I can take it a step further and make it more consistenty a writer's notebook kind of thing. I can say that they write their best work on this play.

Dana Huff said

at 4:37 pm on Jul 7, 2008

Susanne, Shakespeare Set Free is wonderful. I've used it myself. I think you hit the nail on the proverbial head with your last couple of sentences. If they do their best writing when they write on this play AND you've implemented journaling for this play, it stands to reason there is a correlation. They are really thinking about this play through journaling about it is my bet. I think you have given all of us a good idea and a starting point for implementing Penny's ideas in a literature-based class.

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