Rethinking Writer’s Notebook Work

No, I have not finished Notebook Know-How by Aimee Buckner yet.  But I need to write about what I want to stick with me now, or it’ll just fade away.  I’ve read the first two chapters, and what I’m enjoying most is just reading the thoughts of someone as geeked about growing young writers as I am (much the same reason I love reading the Two Writing Teachers blog).  This work is so challenging, it is nice to read about someone else facing the same struggles and failing in some of the same ways I have in trying to make Writers Workshop “work” for everyone.

Chapter 2, “Launching the Notebook”, was a bit more practically useful.  Buckner reminded me how important the talking is–telling stories out loud as a primer for writing.  How funny that we complain as teachers about the constant desire of students to tell stories in class while at the same time bemoaning that they have no motivation to write.  I know this is not true, and Buckner reminds me it is my job to teach them to bring their stories to the page.  I’ve always put the lesson notes and strategy business at the front of the writers notebook with my students, but Buckner puts hers at the back.  This hadn’t occurred to me previously, but just reading it, I see the sense in this.  The kids’ writing should be the first and most prominent feature of their notebooks.  I was hoping for some magical knowledge for how to organize notebooks–I’ve left that largely up to my students, which works for some but not others.  So far, Buckner isn’t giving me much here.

Buckner provides a solid set of strategies for beginning notebook writing, from making lists to lifting a line from previous work to write on.  She also ends the chapter with a useful set of expectations for her students and herself relative to their keeping and using writer’s notebooks.  Re-reading these expectations, it reminds me of how I need to show my commitment to living a writerly life and be willing to be held accountable by my students for my part in our collective work as writers.

Flipping through the rest of the text, it looks like I’ll get a lot of possibilities for focus lessons.  My initial thought was “NO!”–I’m past the stage where I need more focus lessons.  But I’m definitely at the stage where I need to think and be smarter about the choices I make for writing instruction, and I think that could be the best favor Notebook Know-How does for me.  Time will tell.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Stacey
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 01:07:16

    Glad you found our blog… And I’m glad I found yours!


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