The Teacher’s Writer’s Notebook (Part 2)

Apr 19, 2012 by

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.

image Notebooks

 

image Chapters: Notebooks for Writing

 

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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