Revisiting Notebooks

Having read Notebook Know-How (Aimee Buckner) this spring; I’ve moved on the another of her books, Notebook Connections. Know-How is to writing as the Connections book is to Reading. What I am discovering though is that they both are interconnected – as they should be.

At this time of year, many of us start thinking about what we need in place on Day 1 of the next school year.  Last year, by this time, I had a very elaborate, custom-designed Readers’ Notebook all mapped out and in the copier. That Notebook had many of the elements of the fancy Fountas Pinnell Readers’ Notebooks and some of the elements that Beth Newingham uses with her Third Grade Class.

What I’ve come to through reading Notebook Connections and seeing what was tedious, is that much of what I have in the current notebook needs to be revised or maybe even removed.  My students are fairly consistent in completing the daily book log that is part of their current notebook. We both refer to the Color Conference (book level) page and the Goals page. Each week we write back and forth to each other about reading.  But there seems to be lots that is not in use and some places where the Readers’ Notebook is not effective.

I think I still need something more structured than Ms. Buckner’s notebooks so I will keep the basic structure of a separate dedicated notebook for reading. But as I read more of Aimee’s book, I want to create something that is going to be more authentic and clearly connects what my students read to what they will write. I want to move my students past retellings to deeper thinkings about texts, so I will make the shift from a Dear Mrs. Bisson response to students actually recording their reaction to parts of texts or strategic reading.

While I am savoring each day with my current students, I am looking forward to a new year with new faces and new challenges. And getting excited about trying new strategies for learners.

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