Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Non-Technological Chart Notebook


Thursday is usually our technology day. Today, I am going to write ironically and share my coaching tool that is the antithesis of technology. At this time, my most useful coaching tool is my chart notebook, pictured below. I think that the most technological aspect of my notebook is the different colored sharpies that I use in it!


I have been using this notebook to collect charts to support writers across grades K-6 in all units. I have collected the charts from various places. Sometimes, I take a picture of a chart I like and want to share in a classroom. Then, when I have time, I copy it into my book. I have also copied charts from Pinterest if I have liked them. Whenever I read a curriculum document, I have my bag of sharpies open and a clean notebook page because I construct charts as I envision the units.

Since this is my first year as the Writing Coordinator, this is the first year that I have used this tool and when I make another book of charts, I will do it differently and I hope a little better. If anyone decides to try starting a chart notebook, you might benefit from my mistakes and reflections. In any case,  here are some of my thoughts.

What I like:

  • I like having sections for various grade levels. The divisions of K-1, 2-3, 3-4, and 5-6 worked well for me.
  • I like using many different colors. I keep all of my sharpies in a ziploc bag and my husband knew to buy me more for Christmas. 
  • I like  having left a blank page at the beginning so that I can create a table of contents for all of the charts
  • I like having the spiral bound pages since I have pulled a couple of the charts out when I didn't like them.
What I wish I had done differently:
  • I wish that I had created sections within the grade levels for specific types of writing; informational, narrative, and persuasive sections would have served me well and would make it easier to find the chart I'm looking for!
  • I wish that I had a section that was for all grades. Writing partnerships would be one that I'd consider non-grade-specific. Why We Write is another chart that I'd consider to be universal.
  • I wish that I had made sections for grammar and editing. I think that I would try tucking these into the sections for designated grades since the skills and expectations change.
  • I made some of the charts really fancy, spending a long time on the drawings. I wish I hadn't because I want the message to be that charts are to be created in real time as tools for students to use and not as classroom decoration.
When I share my chart notebook with teachers, they usually ask for copies of pages and I am happy to give them out. I have also taken pictures of all of the pages and have created boards on Pinterest. (Okay, we get some credit for staying true to Technology Thursdays :) ) However, I try hard to emphasize that my charts are prototypes and they are only examples of what teachers can make with their students as they teach. I really don't want people to replicate the chart I give them and hang it on a wall because I want the students to feel like they own it, a feeling that they get when they help to create the chart. That way, students understand the purpose of the chart and are much more apt to refer to them and use them as tools for independence.

Happy charting!





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