The Teacher’s Writer’s Notebook (Part 2)
In yesterday’s blog I shared some thoughts on the importance of teachers keeping writer’s notebooks. I also shared that, while I have found my writer’s notebook to be a valuable teaching tool during mini-lessons and individual conferences, it is becoming cumbersome because it has no organization to it. When I first started this notebook, it contained random entries for no particular audience. As I have begun to use it as a teaching tool, however, I’m realizing that I need it to have some order.
One of my summer goals is to re-do my writer’s notebook so that it is more organized and user friendly when I confer with students. I want to have different sections for various genres and examples of writing that will accompany my units of study: personal narrative, poetry, essay, etc. I want to have it at my fingertips without much searching. I hadn’t planned much beyond that yet.
But I may have found my answer! This past week I have been busy researching different iPad apps that can be used in the writing classroom for a session I am presenting at an upcoming conference. I found a couple of apps that look perfect for keeping a digital writer’s notebook. One is called Chapters: Notebooks for Writing. Another is Notebooks for iPad. I haven’t decided which one I’m going to use yet, but as much as I like the feel of writing on paper, I think I’m ditching my Mead composition notebook (sorry, Mead) and going digital.
What I was struggling with with my paper notebook was how to think through all of the ways I anticipate using it and leaving enough space for each section. Then, what do I do when my notebook gets filled up? My fancy, decorated notebook referenced in yesterday’s post is almost used up. I have entries from an old notebook that I really like and I cut them out of that notebook and carry them around inside this notebook (you can see them hanging out of the notebook in the pictures). I hadn’t figured out a way to solve this—but I didn’t want to carry around multiple notebooks.
I’ll be honest. I don’t do a TON of writing in this notebook (see yesterday’s post for Katie Wood Ray’s wisdom on this topic), but when I do, it accumulates over time. So I’m thinking that the digital writer’s notebook might be the way to go for me.
Here are my reasons:
- I always take my iPad with me in classrooms, so my notebook would always be accessible.
- I almost always take my iPad with me in my real life, so I could potentially add more entries because I wouldn’t have the “I-would-write-that-in-my-notebook-if-I-just-had-it-with-me excuse”! Notice the emphasis on “potentially”–because we all know what happens to best intentions. But don’t forget Katie Wood Ray’s advice—we don’t need to write A LOT to be good writing teachers—we just need to write SOME.
- Because I can add virtually unlimited data, my notebook will never get “used up”, so I won’t have to worry about buying new notebooks and figuring out what to do with favorite entries in old notebooks.
- Organization. This was one of my biggest dilemmas, but that, too, would be solved. I wouldn’t have to anticipate how much of my notebook I want to devote to different sections—I could easily add, change, move, delete entries at any time.
Thanks for letting me think through this in writing. I think I have sold myself on the idea. I shared it with a colleague last night. She recently misplaced her notebook when she was working in a school, and was just sick about it. She did end up finding it, but she, too, now thinks she’s going to convert to a digital writer’s notebook.
Yesterday I encouraged you to start a writer’s notebook of your own if you don’t already have one. If you have an iPad, maybe you will want to just start with a digital notebook right from the start. If you don’t have an iPad, well…here’s another reason to get one.
If any of you have used either of these notebook apps yourselves and want to weigh in with advice, it is always welcome!
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