One of the sessions that I attended was Christy Curran's Making Sure the Writing Notebook Lives in Your Writing Workshop Every Day, Not Just for Generating Ideas. The pressures to have students produce final products, as well as the pressures of standardized testing have the potential to impact how much we have students work in notebooks, but this remains such a powerful learning tool for students. Some of the important take-aways from Christy's session were:
- The writing process is circular, not linear. Revision should occur throughout the process and not just at the end. Sometimes a draft may inspire another idea that could send us back to our notebooks.
- The writing process consists of generating, developing and drafting. We often do not spend enough time in the developing stage in order to explore the question of what is this piece really, really, REALLY about. Could it be? Could it be?? Could it be???
- What does it really mean to develop? Some questions to get students to ask themselves during this part of the process are
- What do I really want the reader to know?
- What do I want my readers to think and feel?
- What is this moment teaching me about me or others or the world?
- Where is the significance in the story?
- Where is the discovery for me in the story?
- Students are reading much deeper books than most of the writing that they are doing. Imagine the writing that they would be doing if they were creating works reflective of what they are reading.
- Students should be using their notebooks for exploring revision moves. They could be returning to their notebooks to work on stretching out moments or trying out new strategies.
- Craft and confidence go hand in hand and we must develop both simultaneously in order to see higher quality writing in our classrooms.
- Choice gives students power and freedom in their writing. While we have a set curriculum to follow within the school day, Christy suggested independent projects to offer choice to student writers. Cookbooks, journals, fantasy stories, and reporting were some of her suggestions.
During the session, Christy used her own notebook to show how entries could morph into important, meaningful writing pieces across various genres, depending on her answers to what the entry is really, really, REALLY about. This is a question that I will definitely use as I work with student writers, as well as think about during my own writing. Thank you, Christy, for focusing me on what this is all REALLY about!