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.