In my new role as our district's writing coordinator, I have been thinking about how to help students organize their writer's notebooks. Because some of our students are trying their hand at keeping a notebook for the first time, I think it is important that we teach them a system to organize their entries. As they develop as notebook-keepers in later grades, they can adapt and modify systems that work for them, including using technology and electronic notebooks. (Currently, I do most of my writing, idea gathering, electronically.) However, here are some of the organizational techniques that I think would help beginning notebook users:
- a table of contents- leave a few pages at the beginning of the notebook for recording what will be in there. My daughters have many notebooks that they have kept over the years and I wish there was an easy to find list of notebook contents.
- a section for gathering- teach students that this is the place for them to develop their lists, and potential small moments. Depending on how many sections you want to manage, this could also contains favorite words, quotes, dialogue snippets...whatever you collect in your daily life that could be included in or inspire a longer piece someday
- an entry section- This could be thought of as an exploring section, a place to write a page or so off of an idea to see if it could develop into a bigger piece of work. I also use this section in my notebook to write about my characters--not necessarily the words that go into my book, but the words that help me know my characters and write about them more authentically.
- a strategy section- pages where we keep track of what we learn as writers, and where students can take notes on explicit lessons and teaching points
I'd love to hear about how teachers at various grade levels are approaching notebook organization. Please share some of your thoughts and practices! Happy writing!