A (Non)-Writer Discovers Notebooks

A while ago, our Literacy Coach began talking to us about revisiting notebooks as a means to developing writers and authors.  I’m possibly the last person in education to discover Aimee Buckner and Notebook Know-How, but I am so glad I have made that connection.

Not being a writer myself or at least not a disciplined one, I found notebooks and their use just one more thing to do with kids. Our school-wide writing calendars, focused on responses and one new genre of writing every two months was quite time-consuming. I couldn’t imagine when we would fit in using notebooks.

And then I read this

— we shouldn’t write for significance, but rather that we should write as a habit. Sometimes we’ll write something significant and sometimes we won’t. It’s the act of writing — the practice of generating text and building fluency–that leads writers to significance.

Wow! Did those words speak to me! What I had been doing “wrong” all this time, both as a non-writer and a teacher of writing, was expecting each morsel to be significant. The notebook is a place to practice, to try out, to experiment. Not only in writing, but in any endeavor, a learner needs a safe place to practice without worry as to the significance of the outcome.

This is a discovery that I can relate to. As an amateur photographer, I’ve been reticent to take my camera with me because I would not have anything worthwhile to show for it.

My students are starting to use notebooks now. And while they are not yet a habit, we are learning together to find a safe place to experiment with some of the strategies that professional writers and authors use.

We are learning to be learners through our experimentation.

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2 thoughts on “A (Non)-Writer Discovers Notebooks

  1. We do a daily “Today I Learned…” it’s a written statement and illustration for the kiddos to take home and share with their family to open that conversation of, “What did you learn today?”

    I have recently been trying to ease up on the micro-managing of this daily writing; I’m doing okay with this…the kids are doing so much better than me! They like to just w r i t e and not have me hovering over them! They are much more creative and brave writers when they can just w r i t e.

    As you know, often we need pieces of their work for assessment…so I make sure we have that; but the reality is: How they work on their own is a true assessment of their ability (and confidence).

    Enjoy the journey of the journals! I’d love to see some of their work; can you scan and share?

    1. I’ll try Shelley…. I too am guilty of micro-managing! I love how Aimee Buckner starts right off in Chapter 1 mentioning how she did too much of the writing work for kids! I think it must be an occupational hazard, at least until that aha moment kicks in!

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