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LAUNCHING NOTEBOOKS AND WRITING WORKSHOP. Upper Grade Professional Development P.S. 171 Presentation by Stacey Shubitz Friday, September 1 st , 2006. Idea Notebooks. A portable writer’s notebook is used to record wonderings, observations, overheard conversations, sketches, etc.

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launching notebooks and writing workshop

Upper Grade Professional Development

P.S. 171

Presentation by Stacey Shubitz

Friday, September 1st, 2006

idea notebooks
Idea Notebooks
  • A portable writer’s notebook is used to record wonderings, observations, overheard conversations, sketches, etc.
  • Students need a pen or pencil to carry along with their notebook.
  • Author Lester Laminack calls his Idea Notebook a “Spy Notebook.” He never leaves home without his secret weapon (pen) and something to write about.
    • Cute idea for younger kids… might not work in 5th, 6th and 7th grades.
we want kids to know four major things about collecting entries in their writer s notebooks
We Want Kids To Know Four Major Things About Collecting Entries In Their Writer’s Notebooks
  • Within the personal narrative unit:
    • Process
    • Qualities of Good Writing
    • Volume
    • Conventions

This slide, and the four that follow, are adapted from a presentation at T.C. by Grace Chough, 8/17/06.

How Writers Fit Notebooks Into The Writing Process

Adapted from the work of Randy Bomer, A Time For Meaning.

process goals
Process Goals
  • How to get started (on an entry)
  • What to do when you get stuck.
  • How to go from one entry to the next (entry).
qualities of good writing goals
Qualities of Good Writing Goals
  • Focus
  • Entries are easy to follow
  • Appropriate use of…
    • Dialogue
    • Sensory description
  • Knowing the difference between a summary and a detailed retelling
  • Crafting strong leads and endings
  • Development of the internal story
  • Show, not tell.
  • Stories have a structure (rising action  climax  resolution)
volume goals
Volume Goals
  • About 2 entries/day.
  • Approximately 12 entries/week.
  • If students are publishing 1 ½ pages of writing, then you should expect their entries to be about 1 page long.
conventions goals within notebook entries
Conventions Goals(within notebook entries)
  • Ending Punctuation
    • Making appropriate choices about when to use periods, exclamation points and question marks.
  • Paragraphing
    • Whenever there’s a new person introduced, a new person talking or there’s a move to a different place.
we can t ask our students to do what we won t do so
We can’t ask our students to do what we won’t do, so…
  • Now it’s your turn to try it.
  • By the end of this session you’ll have five entries in your writer’s notebook.
    • All of these entries are directly related to five minilessons you might teach during the first two weeks of school.
    • Your entries could be used as demonstration texts for your students.
observation of the room strategy
“Observation of the Room” Strategy
  • Read the room right now.
  • Write a quick entry about what you’re noticing, how you feel about being back at school today, an overheard conversation or anything else you wish to record about what’s happening in here this morning.
  • You will not have to share this entry with anyone!
  • This is the type of “Idea Notebook” entry you’ll want your kids to write.
meaningful place strategy
“Meaningful Place” Strategy
  • Think of a meaningful place.
    • It could be anything from the kitchen table in the home where you grew up to your favorite beach in Florida.
  • List small moments related to that place.
  • Write about one of those small moments in your writer’s notebook.
look at a photograph strategy
“Look at a Photograph” Strategy
  • Study the photograph.
  • Think about:
    • Who or what is pictured?
    • Where was the picture taken?
    • When was the picture taken?
    • Why did you choose this photo to bring in today?
  • Write about the small moment related to the photograph.
think of a person strategy
“Think of a Person” Strategy
  • Think about a person who is important to you (living or deceased).
  • List as many small moments as you can about that person.
  • Write about one of those small moments with him/her.
look at an object strategy
“Look at an Object” Strategy
  • Examine the object closely.
    • When did you get it?
    • Where did you buy or acquire it from?
    • Who gave it to you?
    • Why is it important?
  • List everything!
  • Write a small moment entry related to this object.
  • Questions
  • Comments
  • Concerns
conferring during september

The following slides serve as additional support for conferences you might hold during the first month of school.

sample questions for the research stage of your r d t conference
Sample Questions for the “Research” Stage of your R-D-T Conference

Chart adapted from Atwell (1987) and Anderson (2002). Conference questions generated by Matthews & Shubitz (2006).

A Hierarchy of What Matters Most When Conferring During This Unit of Study

Adapted from the work of Jen Serravallo (2006).

conferring menu sample writing conference teaching points
Conferring MenuSample Writing Conference Teaching Points

Teaching points created by Matthews & Shubitz (2006).

management tips to establish during the first weeks of school
Management Tipsto establish during the first weeks of school
  • Always work towards independence.
  • Don’t be afraid to use Workshop time to teach management.
    • What to do when you’re done with an entry.
    • My job/your job in a conference.
  • Make sure you’re building stamina.
  • Use mid-workshop interruptions to give students a break.
    • Can be compliments that reflect independence.
  • Create word walls and portable spelling lists (for WW folders) to help students with their spelling.
  • Self-Assignment Boxes (see next slide)
  • Compliment Conferences
    • Quick conferences that consist of 1-2 research questions, then give the student a “paragraph worth of speech” as a compliment. Then, move on!
  • Teach-Only Conference
    • Drop a teaching point to kids as you work the room.
      • Example: “Oh, don’t forget to do _______________.”
  • Build-in time to move around the room to see what’s going on in-between conferences.

Adapted from a presentation at T.C. by Jen Serravallo, 8/18/06.

self assignment boxes in writer s notebooks

Pick another entry from my notebook and rewrite it in tiny little steps.


Write a scene where I show the internal and external story.

“Self-Assignment Boxes” in Writer’s Notebooks
closing quotations
Closing Quotations
  • “Walk through life like a writer.” --Lucy Calkins
  • “Tell the truth about your life and what’s really going on.” --Georgia Heard
  • “We know the truth of ordinary life events. Everything doesn’t end with ‘happily ever after’.” --Georgia Heard
  • “Careful control in craft makes for artful writing.” --Lester Laminack