Writers Notebook: A powerful tool which documents if ‘what has been taught’ has been embedded and is being used consciously by students.

This year we introduced Writers Notebook across my school. My students and I absolutely love our notebooks. We have a tool/skill workbook where  student’s record / practice grammar, word-work and genre study. Their notebooks have a collection of their writing, thinking tools, planning and ideas. Some pieces are finished, others are not. There are plans, drawings, ideas, narratives, reports etc.

I chose a scrapbook and lined paper because the smaller exercise books didn’t allow for the drawings etc. Upon reflection the lined paper has meant quite a bit of sticking pages into a book but my students have managed this well. For next year our team has looked at a range of books more suitable for a notebook. I also stick books together so the children can look back and reflect on their journey as a writer. And they do!

This week I read a book by Terry Denton. The text in the book is made to look like the meaning. What was interesting was that a number of my students decided to ‘have a go’ at this in their own writing. They always have choice in their notebook. I’ve uploaded some photos of their attempt to make the words look like their meaning. These children are 6,7 & 8 year olds.

Classroom writing 003

Classroom writing 005

Classroom writing 008

Classroom writing 009

Classroom writing 012

Classroom writing 014

These notebooks are powerful as documentation of learning as they show the transfer from a taught skill/ genre to a student’s writing where they draw upon what they know. I’m hoping this makes sense. The scaffolds are around the room but the students need to direct themselves and their use. The notebooks clearly show me where learning has been embedded into conscious use.

If you have writers notebooks or something similar, I’d love to know how your students use theirs and if you use their notebooks for assessment purposes.  

Cheers Nina


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3 responses to “Writers Notebook: A powerful tool which documents if ‘what has been taught’ has been embedded and is being used consciously by students.

  1. Pingback: Writers Notebook: A powerful tool which documen...

  2. nina davis

    Hi Maria,
    I teach letter families quickly at the beginning of the year. They also have to practice letters when needed in their tool/ skill book. We also have a published handwriting book which I do use at the beginning of the year. I use the lined paper and move my year one children onto the year two lines half way through the year. I’ve found that the smaller dotted thirds we use improve the year one children’s writing. I think we’re just going to use the Year 2 lines next year for all children in the level. For those who struggle I darken the base line so it is easier to sit their letters and this helps. Also I really work on their grip which is really difficult to change but I’m having success with this.
    Hope this helps!
    Cheers Nina

  3. Maria Denholm

    Hi Nina,
    They have done so well. I love the idea of a writer’s notebook where students can be creative and practice being real writers. Your students have great handwriting, such consistent size and formation. What’s your procedure for teaching this skill?

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