Thursday, March 28, 2013

Writing Workshop: Writer's Notebooks

Can I just start by saying I L.O.V.E. workshop.  Workshop everything.  Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies.  Everything in my classroom is workshop! Why, you ask?  It allows me to give a quick lesson for introduction (how long can second graders sit and pay attention anyway?), provide intervention for those kiddos who need a little extra time, and enrichment for the little ones who already get it!  Then we get to come back together at the end to do a quick share/review.  If you don't use workshop, I highly suggest it.  With that being said, I'm here today to tell you a little bit about my Writer's Notebooks. 

I'm so excited for this weekly linky about different components of Writing Workshop, hosted by Growing Firsties so I can read about everyone else's fabulous ideas! (Click on the picture above to join in or read other posts about Writer's Notebooks)
So, first things first.  I always send home a "Summer Assignment" with my school supply list.  The assignment is easy; think of things that are important to you, and find pictures to represent them.  Look through magazines, your families pictures, on the internet, or anywhere.  The pictures should come to school in a ziploc bag labelled with the kiddos name on the first day!  We use these pictures/cut outs to personalize notebooks and make it represent ourselves!  My kiddos just love this - and it makes it really easy to find their own notebook.
How do we use them?
-Writing Homework!  Starting about halfway through the 1st quarter, after we've already had lots of practice with our writer's notebooks, students have nightly writing homework.  Usually, it's just 10 minutes of "free write" time.  They can write songs, poems, fiction, non fiction, shopping lists, anything they set their little hearts on.  On occasion, students might have to finish a writing assignment they didn't finish at school, or I might give them a writing assignment for the night.  For those little ones who have difficulty generating ideas, I will typically send home a list of writing prompts and they can choose one of those if they are stuck.  This is the first year we've done writing homework in 2nd grade and the kids have shown tremendous growth in their writing stamina, their ability to generate ideas on their own, creativity, and just plain ole' willingness to write!  Students put their notebooks on their desk each morning open to the last nights writing for me to check.
-Reflections!  Maybe we went on a field trip or a school assembly.  Maybe we had a visitor come & share some expert knowledge.  First thing we do when we get back into the classroom is pull out our notebooks & reflect.  What did we learn?  What did we like?  What didn't we like?  What else are we wondering?  Fabulous for review writing!
-Idea Lists!  The first few pages of our writing notebooks are reserved for ideas.  Whenever we get an idea for something to write about, we just add it to our running list of topic ideas.  We have lists arranged by writing genre : Personal Narrative, Review, All About, How to, etc.  They also have a list that may not fit into any of the writing genres we studied.
Where do you keep them?
Well- I recently recieved seat sacks from a lovely grandmother of one of my students, so after we get back from break, they'll stay in their seak sacks! Can I get a Hallelujah?!? 
Before, we had a dedicated spot for EVERYTHING in our room.  Since I have tables, they had no desk storage space, so we kept our Writing notebooks at the Writing Center, Reading Journals in our BOBs, Math Journals at the Math Center, etc.  Basically, a huge pain because of the time you have to spend with kids getting & putting away materials.  Not anymore!!
Writer's Notebook Rules:
  • Don't write anything you wouldn't want someone else to read.  Be respectful & kind of other people and things.
  • Put in your best effort.
  • Start each new piece on a new page with the date on top!
  • Write as neatly as you can, I would hate to not be able to read a wonderful piece of work you spent time writing because you wrote sloppy!
WOW! That was a lot of writing. Thanks for sticking with me.  Hope maybe you got some ideas for using a Writer's Notebook with your kiddos.  I think that's about it.  I'm probably forgetting always :).  I would LOVE to hear how other people use their Writer's Notebooks in their classroom. Head on over to Growing Firsties to link up!



  1. Seat sacks ROCK - I love, love, love them! Thanks for linking up, Ashley! Love that you have their idea lists organized by genre!!!
    Growing Firsties

  2. Just found your blog through the LINKY. I just posted about my Writer's Notebooks!
    Melissa Leach