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What Type of Notebook To Use and Why

 

What’s in the video

  • All the specs your students need for their Writer’s Notebooks (of course, you should feel free to use whatever will get you and your students the most value for your time and effort).
  • Writing is complex, so keeping things as simple as possible will help our students.
  • Make sure there is room for comments in your students’ Writer’s Notebook.
  • Why you should have your students personalize their notebooks.

What’s in the video

  • All the specs your students need for their Writer’s Notebooks (of course, you should feel free to use whatever will get you and your students the most value for your time and effort, but I think I make a pretty good case for we should all use).
  • Writing is complex, so keeping things as simple as possible will help our students.
  • Make sure there is room for comments in your students’ Writer’s Notebook.
  • Why you should have your students personalize their notebooks.

More Resources

Please Comment below!

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25 thoughts on “LESSON 1

  1. We use college-ruled in my classroom, but I’m flexible. Students can choose wide-rules if the want.

    I also allow different kinds of notebooks (not spirals, though) because there are so many choices out there that work. I personally love using a hardback notebook that has 200 pages (although, I can’t find another one like it right now).

    Thanks for the mention!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This if off topic with the notebooks, but I’ve found Flair pens to be very useful for our writer’s workshop. Black for drafting and blue for revisions

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have tried to use college-ruled in the past, but am going in with wide-ruled this year. The link to JJ_Burry’s post about decorating is also very helpful. I have not had them decorated in years and I want to go back to it with my 10th graders this year!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am all-in with college-ruled paper and in the importance of student ownership. I think my 9th and 10th graders will love decorating and will learn to appreciate the writer’s notebook.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have the capacity to do that at my site with laptops in my classroom, but I find that students will lose out in a few ways.

      First, there is more memory in writing by hand. Physically writing carries more weight and people recall their writing with more clarity.

      Another reason, the students have actually built something over the year. They are truly impressed with themselves when they fill up a composition book with their words. They can see everything they did, touch their accomplishments.

      Finally, when I need them to remember something from notes, the page loads are instantaneous. They don’t have to fumble about through lengthy files or folders to retrieve information.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Excellent explanation. After a year of doing one of my own, along with my students, I love the tactile effect. I’m proud of my notebook, too. And I could draw in it, trace, paste passages. It came out all crinkly from the glued in items. Love the sound and feel.

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  5. I use wide ruled with my sixth grade students and the composition books as well. I ask students to personalize the outside of their books with pictures, quotes, ticket stubs, etc. to make it theirs. Plus, it provides additional fodder for writing prompts. I also ask them to create a cover page and a Table of Contents. I just started the Table of Contents this year and love it. I take the time when they first get their notebooks to number each and every page. It is time consuming but helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the idea of buying the notebooks and having the students pay me for them. Then we don’t have students arrive with a spiral instead of a composition notebook.
    I required my students to come to class with a composition notebook as well, but I still got the few that arrived with a spiral or a little journal they had lying around home. It can be frustrating!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so happy to have found this course! Yay! Thank you! I love having kids decorate their notebooks because it’s a place to show their personality and call their own. Some might prefer to go all out, while others just write their names. Either one is fine by me…whatever makes them happy. I’ve even had some return to it throughout the year to decorate more, once they realize its value. Also, I love wide-ruled notebooks for various reasons, some of which you mentioned in the video:
    1. Comments…giving us room to dialogue back and forth, without having to squeeze in comments between skinny lines is so important!
    2. Space…sometimes ideas stem from doodles and sketches. The wide-rule notebooks seem be more inviting to this type of practice. (…or maybe it’s just me…).
    3. Symbols…sometimes we use marks or symbols to categorize, organize, or remind us about something in our writing. With college-ruled, they aren’t easily visible, but wide-ruled makes it easier for us to see those symbols.
    4. Editing and revising…as students make changes to their writing, I tell them to cross out, rather than erase. This allows me to see their thought process and shows me they have thought about the corrections and changes they are making. In addition, crossing out with a single line never has them wondering what they wrote down prior to making their changes/improvements (in case they want to return to that idea later in the paper). Wide-ruled is perfect for this because kids don’t have to squeeze eveything in a college-ruled space that really doesn’t allow for this.
    5. Confidence…although I teach HS, the skill level of the majority of my students is very low. Some of them are where they need to be, but most aren’t. Writing a complete sentence is a struggle to some, which makes writing an entire page seem near impossible, especially college-ruled. This makes many of them want to give up before they even begin. Wide-ruled, however, is doable. Once they see they can do it and realize it wasn’t so bad, their confidence in themsleves and their abilities increase. From there, we do another…and another…slowly, taking it just one page at a time. Overtime, one page becomes the norm, and from there, the possibilities are endless. 🙂
    Looking forward to Lesson #2! Thank you, again!
    -Tara

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing all your thoughts and tips. Good point about crossing out. I want to make that explicit this year.

      Like

  8. I didn’t provide time in class for decoration, though I encouraged it and modeled it. I proudly showed off all the Trader Joe’s stickers I’d collected, especially the scratch ‘n’ sniff ones. Students are really into stickers for their water bottles these days, and many used those types of stickers on their notebooks. One student brought me a sticker from the famed Powell Books (Portland) which I promptly added.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ahhh, wide ruled. Simply brilliant. So happy that I can reap the benefits of your struggles & that you want to share/help. Thank you! Really getting excited to begin! I’m on the countdown to retirement, but I have decided to go out on fire and make them master it! 🔥🔥🔥

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love the wide ruled suggestion for many reasons. I hadn’t really thought about this before, but is the idea of “college ruled” possibly becoming antiquated? I wonder how often students hand write in a composition notebook in college? If wide ruled notebooks make it easier to revise and comment, why not?! Thank you for my first practical application take away from this course!

    Like

    1. Good point. I wonder too if it’s just the connotation of the word “college”? I know that’s what it was for me, “Hey, your goal is to go to college, so let’s use college-ruled.”

      Like

  11. I’m personally a fan of college-ruled paper for my own writing (so I can squeeze in more of it!), but after my first year as a HS teacher, I can see one particular appeal to using wide-ruled paper — my students’ handwriting! Handwriting is no longer taught in the same way here, and most of my students had at best a month or two of training in cursive. Plus, I have some who struggle with handwriting for other reasons (students with ADHD, for example, often have issues with handwriting). Wide-rule is just kinder for them.

    (I also hope that the wide rule encourages some of my tiny writers to expand their writing so I don’t have to squint at it.)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow. Good point with the wide rule. When students write rough drafts, I push them to write on every other line so they have “room for revision.” I suppose wide does that already! I agree with having students personalize it. When I have tried this (and not done so well) in the past, I’ve found that students can sometimes come up with writing ideas based on things they use to personalize it.

    Like

  13. I am really excited about this course. I too have used a writer’s notebook previously but did not like the results. I read Bucker’s book as well. I am so relieved that a veteran teacher had similar struggles and doubts. Growth mindset is plowing forward!

    Like

  14. I found this course at just the right time. We are halfway through our first quarter, and I was thinking of abandoning the notebook. My students are . . . less than engaged and they passively resist everything that isn’t a clear-cut right answer. I was also considering moving to a digital, but I’m going to see this course through before i make a decision. The tactile approach of the notebook is important!

    Do you have any suggestions for students who are just obstinately passive? This year I couldn’t even get them engaged in personalizing their notebooks. A few, but those are the ones who are actively writing, now, too. That may come in later lessons, but I’m curious to know how you get them to engage enough to write it down!

    Liked by 1 person

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