Life. Literacy. Learn. Lead.

Life. Literacy. Learn. Lead.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sending Them Off...Notebook Style

June's arrival is very near.  Like tomorrow.

I've been doing some reflecting about how we can send our students off into summer vacation feeling inspired to continue to read and write. Of course, there's so many ideas out there to choose from. For some reason this year, I'm struck by the writer's notebook. 

A notebook. 
  To write. 
    To voice. 
      To record. 
        To try. 
          To risk. 
            To practice. 
              To enjoy. 
To share.

Like I've done all year, I reached for a book that has guided me like a lighthouse all year long; Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild. I've been able to take so much out of this beautiful book this school year. One of my "take-aways" from this book was that readers make plans. I love this and it stuck with me all year. I used it as I thought about how we can continue to inspire our kids to keep that pencil moving this summer. 

We have a glass case in our main hallway at school and I decided to put some artifacts and inspirational ideas in it to help catch the eye of our K-5 readers and writers.

And then I had a plan. 

I started You Tubing, Googling, reading, and writing. Then, I felt compelled to share these thoughts with our staff, hoping maybe this would catch on. It went a little something like this.

Over the next several weeks, it might be helpful to get students thinking about a summer plan for maintaining reading, writing, and math skills. Our challenge is to make this fun and authentic.  I think we can all agree that we just want fun ways for kids to keep that pencil moving this summer (and as a lifelong habit). 

The glass case in the main hallway will feature ideas to help students make a summer plan. One of the ideas for students (and grown-ups, too!) includes starting a writing notebookNext to the glass case, there are free bookmarks for students with the"Sharing Our Notebooks" website on it from children's author/writing teacher, Amy VanDerwater. That website has TONS of notebook ideas. On a side note, her entire website and blogs are like gold!

Also, feel free to share this AWESOME short video with your students featuring many, many wonderful ideas of how to get started with a writer's notebook. This video features a peek inside Ruth Ayres' notebook. Ruth is a wonderful blogger/teacher/writing coach for a school district in Northern Indiana. So many of the ideas in this video will help you integrate art, science, and everyday life. 

Video link: 

There's also a Padlet from Amy VanDerwater's website with book titles where the characters keep notebooks and live "writerly" lives!! 

One of our fabulous reading teachers, Mary Ann Lana (@maryannlana), took groups of her students by the glass case and one-by-one they began to get excited about their own writer's notebook. She writes: 

Just wanted to share that several of my groups have started working on writers' notebooks and the kids are really enthusiastic about them. I put up a Padlet with more videos and writing ideas on my website;  feel free to use it with your kids. I embedded it to my classroom webpage:​   I believe you can add to it too (I'm still new to "Padletting!")

I've got most of my kids grades 1-5 working on them, so if you have students that work with me ask them if they've started one. If you decide to incorporate them you can have them use the one they already started. I intend to keep them going through the summer with summer school students. We were all in an end-of-the-year slump until we broke out the writers notebooks, now that's all they want to do. Oh darn!  :) 

So here's hoping we have helped pave a "writerly" path for our students this summer.  Once again, I thank those who shape my thinking. My list of gratitude is infinite, but specific to what I write about today, I must include...
-My colleagues, co-workers, and students
-Donalyn Miller 
-Ruth Ayres
-Amy VanDerwater
-Mary Ann for carrying this to her students!!

I also bumped up Notebook Know-How: Strategies for the Writer's Notebook by Aimee Buckner on my "to-be-read" list and am currently on my porch reading it barely able to set it down. Thank goodness for all these great thinkers and their dedication.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers and the Slice of Life writing community for providing this opportunity to share our "slices."  Check out the other slices and join in the fun!


  1. Welcome back Marcie! Inspiring post! We are in the same wavelength totally! Stay tuned for my TWT post on Saturday about using QR codes and Amy's Sharing Our Notebooks site. I'm really so excited about the idea and I'll share the resources I created. Thanks for sharing your ideas! I've been really trying to think of ways to keep my students reading and writing too!

    1. Thanks Kathleen and thank again for sharing your great post this morning. Love all the collaboration and growing ideas together.

  2. I'm marking your post so that I can sit with it tomorrow and make a folder of so many great summer writing ideas! Wow! Thank you.

    1. Thank you...I think that I need to make a folder as well :)