Friday, August 24, 2012

Writer's Notebook Organization!

I've been using the Writer's Workshop model of teaching and celebrating writing for the last 8 years, but this is the first year that I feel I've got a good grip on how to help my students organize their Writer's Notebooks (WN). This blog will show you some options for organizing WN's and some sample lessons to help you implement the Writer's Workshop model easily.  Please visit my TeachersPayTeachers account to support the work I've done here at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writers-Notebook-Organization-Writers-Workshop-Starter-Kit   For everything I sell on the site, I give 10% to DonorsChoose.org and an additional 10% to Food for the Poor.  The complete kit is only $5 for all that you see here, plus Writer's Notebook labels and additional information for everything you  need to start your Writer's Workshop off on the "write" foot!

Here is the cover of my Writer's Notebook. I usually show my students a few of my WN's that I've used over the years (including one from 2nd grade!).  This is my newest one and it's still a work in progress. I encourage them to put anything that is school-appropriate on their WN, including photos, magazine & newspaper clippings, stickers, and words that symbolize who they are. The point of decorating it is to have more ownership in their writing/WN and to garner ideas for their writing based off of what they included on the covers of their WN. My first year I had my students decorate them in class, but I find it to be a huge waste of time when I have SO much else to teach them.  After explaining it, I make decorating their personal WN homework for over a weekend.  It makes for pretty fun homework!
I also decorated the back of my WN.
Here is the title page, which is the first blank page in the spiral/composition book:

Next comes the dedication page. Again, this brings more purpose to students' writing- they are writing for someone or to someone and get to choose who their audience is.  This is the first tab in my WN, but I probably won't have my students tab theirs, simply because they won't use this much after they write it. I made up some little tabs that are easy to print and put them on Teachers Pay Teachers so no one has to write all these by hand or deal with the crazy formatting!  I used the little Staples sticky notes that I got 100+ of for a quarter, and then put clear tape over it to help it stick better.  Most of my students have their tabs last for the entire year, but a few have to retape theirs.
The next tab is for the Table of Contents and it's just one page long.  This is a section that students will add to throughout the year, so I like to have it tabbed for easy access.  It's organized by the title of the work and the page number, just like a real non-fiction book or chapter book, which helps solidify the text features lessons too! 
 Now for the Writing Ideas tab, which is the next five pages.  This is another area where students will be flipping to on a regular basis for ideas on what to write, so a tab makes this search much more efficient.  The first ideas for writing activity that I do with my students is their Authority List.  I do a quick-write where they finish the sentence, "I know a lot about..." and they jot down as many things as they possibly can.  I give them different categories, like sports, animals, colors, friends, activities, places they've been, books they've read, favorite authors, things they do at home, things their family does, what they do on the weekends/summer/mornings/etc.  The idea is to get as many things down as quickly as possible so they have a lot of options to write about when they come back to this page throughout the school year.
For even more ideas on how to get kids excited about writing and give them a plethora of ideas on it, visit my TPT site!  There are four additional pages with pictures and descriptions to help your students have a never-ending supply of things to write about!

The next tab is My Writing.  This is the largest tab because this is where all the student's fabulous writing will go!  Brainstorms, graphic organizers, rough drafts, editing, and final copies can all fit in here.  Frequently in my classroom, I get out our "Final Copy Paper," which is designer paper.  Students can choose from dozens of different designs to find the one that fits their story the best, and then they write their final copy on the fancy paper instead of on regular paper in their WN's.  This mostly just serves as extra motivation to write their story out all over again after the long editing process!  Notice the date column on the left so you can see what they've produced each day, and so can they. :)


 Second to last in the WN's is the Writing Notes tab.  This is found on the second to last page of the book, and this is the one section that we write "backwards."  While the My Writing section slowly progresses towards the back of the Writer's Notebook, the Writing Notes section moves steadily towards the front.  This is where any notes from our daily/weekly Writer's Workshop lesson is recorded.  You can see the column with the date in the left margin (I love dating things so students have more accountability for what they have achieved each day).  Pictured are notes about types of punctuation, tips for narrative writing, and some great ways to start your first sentence of your story.

This is the very last page in the book, and it is reserved for Writing Goals.  These are the goals that I help each student write based on their particular struggles in writing.  Here are some sample goals from my classroom.  In the past, after my student and I create and record their new writing goal, they get a colorful sticky note.  On the front, they write their name and on the back, they write their goal.  Then, they place this sticky beneath the writing trait poster that they're working on (Conventions, Organization, etc).  From time to time, I'll have my students write about how they are doing with their writing and/or literacy goal, talk to someone about it, tell their parents about it, etc.  Ideally, I meet with each student at least every other month to assess their progress on their old goal and to create a new one if necessary, but this doesn't always happen.  I'm sure in your classroom, you will magically find time to meet with every student all the time! :)
What do you put in your Writer's Notebook?  Which lessons are best for the beginning of the year?    I do want to note that some of these WW lesson ideas are not mine, but can be found in Teaching Quality Writing or are from district workshops that I attended regarding Writer's Workshop.  This is simply my own take on it, and a nice way to organize everything.  What tabs would you add to your WN?

Again, all of these fun things, plus easy-to-print labels and additional information can be found on http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writers-Notebook-Organization-Writers-Workshop-Starter-Kit for only $5.  Thank you preemptively for supporting my work, and for sharing your love of writing with your students!

65 comments:

  1. Wow, this is amazing! You just gave me a ton of ideas!!! Thank you for sharing your talent.

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    1. I'm so glad that it was helpful! Feel free to share & pin on pinterest. :)

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  2. AHHHmazing! That is a very comprehensive explanation, and this first year teacher thanks you! Can't wait to make my WN lessons even better next week!

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    1. Hooray! It's so much nicer to share ideas rather than have to reinvent the wheel- especially your first year teaching! Pass it on to anyone else you think it might benefit:)

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  3. We are just launching Writer's Workshop at my school this year. This is most helpful! Thank you for sharing the ideas!!!

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  4. Great post! We are launching Writers Workshop in my district, and this makes it seem easier to visualize.

    EmilyK

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  5. I love this! What do you use for your main writng curriculum...the Ralph Fletcher kit? I'd love to get copies of the items you mentioned. My email is pkwapien@verizon.net I'd love to be able to pick your brain about what other ideas you have for writing!

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    1. I have the Ralph Fletcher kit, but after my first year, I pretty much made my own stuff up with a mix of things that I've pulled from a variety of sources. I will email you this week- all the writing goodness I have will be coming your way shortly. Also, I'm hoping to finish my post about how to do narrative writing with students as the first unit after getting the Writer's Notebooks organized. I'll also add a post about how I teach the writing process, and what I do for intervention groups for my kids who aren't getting it! Keep checking back, and let me know if you have any specific questions:)

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    2. Check out http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writers-Notebook-Organization-Writers-Workshop-Starter-Kit for the whole set- it includes a hard copy of everything here, easy printables for the color-coded WN tabs, student-friendly instructions for how to create the WN, and more detailed explanations all for only $2! Plus, 20% of my sales go to DonorsChoose.org and Food for the Poor to pay it forward. I'll still send you some other great writing things, but I'd love your support on Teachers Pay Teachers too!

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  6. Wow! I'm so glad I found this post on Pinterest! I'm doing Writer's Workshop with my 3rd grade resource room students and I'm still trying to get it all organized. This is sooo helpful! Thanks!

    Ashley
    The Resource Room Teacher
    www.missashleysresourceroom.blogspot.com

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    1. That's great! Let me know if you have any specific questions or if you've found something that works well for your particular students. Write On! :)

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  7. This is wonderful. Thank you so much!

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    1. My pleasure! I'm glad to help; let me know if you have any specific questions, and check back frequently as I'll be adding more writing goodness this next week!

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  8. Amazing!! I am just getting writing started in my classroom next week *hopefully*. I have never actually had a writing curriculum or done a "writers workshop." We just received some resources this year and my goal is to get started in October. By any chance, have you made the tabs in Teachers Pay Teachers yet? I would love them!! Thank you!!

    TaNesha

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  9. I just uploaded all of this writing goodness, further explanations, ready-to-print WN tabs, and instructions on how to have students (or a volunteer) create these awesome writer's notebooks to Teachers Pay Teachers! You can find it at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writers-Notebook-Organization-Writers-Workshop-Starter-Kit and it's only $2 for the whole thing! Hopefully you'll find that this kit makes it SO EASY to start in on the Writing Workshop process. I shared it with my coworkers and they love it! I also decided that I'm going to donate 20% of my sales to charity (DonorsChoose.org and Food for the Poor). Good luck, and let me know if I can help or answer questions along the way!

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  10. I am from NZ and have not heard of 'Writers Workshops/Notebooks' until recently while searching the net. I love the idea of the notebook but would like to know more about how to get started with the Workshops. Where would you recommend I look to get started assuming I know abosolutely nothing about it....

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  11. I will do a blog on the basics of Writer's Workshop by this weekend, but there are a number of fabulous books about it that will give a more in depth look at the model of writing instruction. One good one is Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide by Ralph Fletcher. There are a lot of other books out there on the topic too, and I'll be posting more about specific writing lessons and whole units of writing as well, so keep checking back! I'll keep adding to my store at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Stephanie-Madison too and hope to have some fall-themed writing activities up there by this weekend too. Let me know if you have questions as you learn more about it!

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing this all ideas! I'm portuguese and I'm studing (almost finishing!) for being a teacher. This post gave me a lot of ideas to work on writting skills with my students! I'm enchanted with your blog! :)

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  13. Wow- I love your organization- I struggle with teaching writing. I have read Fletcher and the 6 Traits book. Also someone shared this site which I love and use all the time:
    http://www.pps.k12.or.us/departments/curriculum/2022.htm

    But I am running over to purchase your organization pack- that is the piece that is really going to help me to teach my peeps.

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  14. I'm a brand new teacher! This is so very helpful! Thanks! :)

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  15. Wow. All I can say is wow! You're an inspiration!!!

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  16. I'm so glad that you found this inspiring and helpful! Hopefully I'll have time to get some more resources up on here over the Christmas break! Happy Teaching!

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  17. I am from Australia and I started trialing Writer's Notebook in my class room for 10 weeks last year. I am planning on having the whole year with my new class dedicated to it. I am so amazed at the ideas you have shared and they are already on my planners for the 2013 year. Last year at the end of the 10 weeks we created a "Writer's Gift" that the students chose there favourite pieces of writing and published them either by hand or computer and made it into a book that they presented to a special person in their life. It gave huge meaning to their writing and such pride in what they have achieved.
    Thanks again for the great ideas!! Thanks to Pinterest for helping me find it!!

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    1. I love the idea of the "Writer's Gift" because it places a lot of value and worth on the creation of the students. Thanks for sharing the great project idea; keep sharing as you implement other ideas and check back for new teaching postings.

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  18. I love your use of the Writer's Notebook. I am using it for the first time this year and found your blog. Great ideas! Used your Memory Hand idea to review various moods in a novel we read. "Mood Hand" had to have 5 different moods (fingers) from the story with events that went with each. The palm was the reader's mood at the end of the novel. Students wrote brief critiques and feelings about the end of the story (which involved revenge). Kids loved it! Thanks!

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    1. What a fantastic idea with the "Mood Hand" for literacy! Keep checking back for more writing goodness and to share more fabulous ideas!

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  19. I wish I had seen this last summer. . . definitely will use it next year!

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    1. I wish I had thought of it six years ago when I started teaching! :) I am so glad that you found my blog and found it to be helpful. Have fun creating your Writer's Notebook this summer and let me know how the implementation of Writer's Workshop goes in your room next year!

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  20. As a student teacher, I love this ideas as I am able to get notebooks at the local Staples for very little money when they have a back to school sale. I love the set-up and the ease of use. Thank you for all your hard work and making my life easier.

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    1. My pleasure! I'm so glad that you found this to be helpful. I always stock up on notebooks when they go on sale for less than $0.10 each (usually you can get a class set for a penny each!). This is such an easy way to organize their writing and it really helps them develop their writing skills as well with a few well-planned lessons throughout the year as you move through your writing units. Happy Writing!

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  21. Incredible! I hope I can try this with my students next year!!

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    1. Start by creating your own Writer's Notebook; it will help inspire you to implement the Writing Workshop with your students and it will help inspire great writing in your students. Plus, it's just plain fun! Happy writing!

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  22. WOW! Even my firsties could use this "with a twist!" LOVE this! Sounds like my new summer project! ( Because I don't have enough summer projects! hahaha) Thanks! I'm heading over to TPT! wendy 1stgradefireworks@gmail.com
    1stgradefireworks

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    1. Have a great time creating your personal Writer's Notebook this summer; I'm sure it will be a source of inspiration for your firsties! Thanks for your support and positive feedback!

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  23. I am a resource teacher in high school, and next year we are going to Common Core and PARCC. I don't teach English, but I want to incorporate writing in my classes. I am definitely going to use this as my template!! Thanks for the information and for putting it on TPT! I will purchase the whole thing!!

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    1. I am so glad that this will be helpful; I think it can be so easily adapted to fit any grade and really helps students get organized with the craft of writing. Happy writing with your high school students; make sure to celebrate their fabulous work!

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  24. I teach first grade. Can this be used with my first graders?

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    1. I think you could very easily adapt this for use with your first graders. You may want to start simply, and possibly even take a few of the sections out at first. Depending upon your class and their previous reading/writing skills, you might be able to use all of the sections, just with more simplified tasks in each with a lot more support (like word banks/walls, sample sentences to copy, sentence stems/frames, etc) Let me know how it goes!

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  25. I just blindly implemented Writer's Workshop this year. I found your organization piece, and I purchased it on Teachers Pay Teachers. This will be the key to my success next year! Do you have any other resources that you are willing to share? I can use all the help I can get. Thanks for your brilliance, and your willingness to share it.

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  26. my e-mail is ahutchings@thomas.k12.ga.us

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  27. This is amazing! I can't wait to do this with my students next year! I have seen similar things, but they always lacked something. Thanks for sharing this fantastic resource!

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  28. This are cute and wonderful work you have.. It gives me lots of ideas..


    become an author

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  29. What a super resource. I have struggled with my writer's workshop but I am sure your starters kit is going to help and your explanation of everything was FANTASTIC. Thank you very much.

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  30. Found you on Pinterest . . . wonderful notebook :-)

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  31. Wow!!! This is amazing! I am so glad I found this on Pinterest!
    Thanks for sharing your ideas.
    Sara
    First Grade Funtastic

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  32. Thank you so much for providing such a wonderful explanation!!!! I am trying to put this together for my 9th grade English classes and I think this is perfect! Do you have any other prompts or brain starters that you use for this?

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  33. outstanding! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  34. Thanks so much for sharing! Our school has just adopted Lucy Calkin's Units of Study and we will begin implementing Writer's Workshop this month, so I really appreciate the tips found here! I noticed you mentioned a book towards the end of the post ("I do want to note that most of these WW lesson ideas are not mine, but can be found in Teaching Quality Writing..."), but I couldn't find a book by that title on Amazon. Can you please give me some more information about this book? If so, could you please email it to: karen.carpenter@sumnerschools.org

    Thanks! Karen

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  35. Hi- when we buy the set from TpT can we edit the tabs?

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  36. This is so organized and easy to use. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas! I'm looking forward to using these ideas the school year.

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  37. I love these ideas! Even though I teach first grade, I believe I can use/adapt most of them a various times of the year. Thank you so much for sharing! :)

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  38. Thanks for sharing this! It's exactly what I was looking for. I teach middle school learning support and I was looking for a way to boost my writing lessons this year. The notebook is fabulous! Since grades 7 & 8 focus more on persuasive writing I added another page to the Writing Ideas tab. I called it "Open Mic" and drew a picture of a microphone. Then around it I listed all of the topics that evoke strong feelings for me, or topics I find debatable. I'm really looking forward to seeing the students' progress this year.

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  39. This is really AWESOME! I teach middle school, and I have them keep a writer's notebook based on Corbett Harrison's model. I am always looking for ways to improve the organization of it. I am so EXCITED that I came across this on Pinterest. I cannot wait to use it in a few weeks. I am going to add a page called the ABC's of what I want to write about this year. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful idea!!!!!!!

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  40. I teach writing and science to 5th grade immigrant and refugee children. This is my 5th year and I set up our Writer's Notebook with tabs, dedication and the sections you recommend. Before I just had a title page, table of contents and notes and writing filling the rest of the book. NEVER have I seen my students work so carefully and purposefully in their notebooks. Everyone of them work hard, accurately and overall I see they are more inspired then before. Wow, what a huge difference!!

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    1. I am so excited to hear how well this worked in your classroom! Thank you for sharing your experience. Keep checking back on here and on my TeachersPayTeachers site for additional teaching goodness. Happy Writing!

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  41. Thankyou for the very easy and thorough explanation about the WN. I have been at a loss as to how to utilise it in my classroom and have only got as far as having the students decorate it. Now I know where I am going... and can't wait to get back from term break..all the best ...Aussie teacher

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  42. This is AWESOME!!! Thanks so much for sharing :)

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  44. Great ideas, looking forward to trying them out next year. I have used Writer's Notebooks in the past but have found the hiccup for me is grading them. Do you have advice on collecting, grading, and returning these notebooks in a way that keeps kids accountable and you sane, especially when you are using them almost daily?

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  45. Thank you for helping many like me ,scattered thoughts organized,for sure, it is more than that it looks like, it is a habit formation idea and priceless, no doubt. one more powerful aspect of this strife is attachment with work you love and will serve as sweet memories for everyone, when ever we will feel sad,and generation next will take our finish as a start. you are real an asset for the nation building think tanks.
    Riaz, Pakistan.

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