Benefits of Writer’s Notebooks
Many writers like to keep writer’s notebooks handy so they can jot down “seed” ideas whenever they pop into their heads. I encourage students to do the same. The writer’s notebook is a staple in my writing classroom, probably our most important writing tool. It is a place for my students to free write on mostly self-selected topics, a place for them to explore seed ideas which may later be taken to publication. It is also a place for my students to practice revising their writing using the craft techniques we learn through mentor text mini-lessons.
In his book Mechanically Inclined Jeff Anderson (2005) describes the writer’s notebook as a “playground for writing”. He says “I let students have recess on the page, the sweet freedom to romp with thoughts, cavort with commas, and monkey around with syntax. What better playground do we have than the writer’s notebook? This is the repository, the organizer, the placeholder, the idea catcher, the canvas to experiment and create , the place to be wrong and to be wrong boldly. It is a place to return—to mine and refine, polish and relish, reread and rewrite.”
To get students excited about using the notebooks, I read aloud or paraphrase portions of Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You. Fletcher explains that “writers are like other people, except for at least one important difference. Other people have daily thoughts and feelings, notice this sky or that smell, but they don’t do much about it. All those thoughts, feelings, sensations, and opinions pass through them like the air they breathe. Not writers. Writers react.” (Ralph Fletcher, 1996).
Benefits of Notebook Writing:
- Promotes fluency in writing and reading
- Encourages risk taking
- Provides opportunities for reflection
- Validates personal experiences and feelings
- Promotes thinking and makes it visible
- Promotes development of written language conventions
- Provides a vehicle for evaluation
- Provides a written record of students’ literacy learning