Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Wednesday Writing - Writer's Notebooks

First day of school. After a night of tossing and turning I wake up with butterflies in my stomach. Yes! Even after 23 years, I still get them. I enter my classroom and flick on the lights. It is quiet now but the room has a certain tension this morning. An air of expectation. The pencils are all sharpened, the chairs are all pushed in, and the floor is clean. I take a deep breath and glance at the clock. It's 7:15. I have another 20 minutes before the bell will ring and those eager little bodies will bounce down the bus steps and stream in the front doors. 20 minutes to make sure I have everything in place and go through my mantra, "I may be as prepared as possible, but never prepared enough for reality. I must trust in my ability to handle all things as they come. Today I will make a difference. Today I am a teacher."

I am ready.

We will be setting up our Writer's notebooks this morning. Another composition book to put in their desk. I want thing one to be special to them. So I'll let them decorate to their heart's content and then go home tonight with homework to gather more things to decorate it with. Then tomorrow I will mod podge everyone's covers so they stay perfect. I got the idea from one of the bloggers I follow and I am truly sad that I can't remember who the genius was. If I figure it out, I will definitely update here.

But for today, we are going to fold down the first two pages of our notebook to act as the Table of Contents. In the past I have held off having them write things here. I would save it as a busy work task during the long week before holiday break. But they do it only halfway, or not at all. So I am rethinking this part. I am going to have them get into the routine of updating their table of contents every few days. Next, we'll separate our notebook into four sections. I am going to have them glue ribbons into each section so we can find them throughout the year. Our county is asking that we allow them to write in all four genres this year instead of just concentrating on two. They believe the more exposure they get, the better retention.  And later the more skilled writers we'll produce. Hmm. There will be a ribbon for Personal Experience (Narrative), Information, Persuasive, and Fantasy. We'll really have to think about which genre to put our pieces in. If we are doing some poetry, are you writing about the weather? Then should it go it personal experience (A Day in the Rain), Information (Cloudless Skies), or Fantasy (The Rainmaker)? Fun, right?

This year I am having them put all of their planning and drafting into this notebook. Once they get ready to move it to the final draft, I'll have them use a legal pad. This move into a different paper is going to make them understand the difference between drafting and final copy. We'll talk about the importance of best handwriting and pay attention to correct punctuation. Always a struggle for us. Maybe the move to a different format will turn their brains into a higher gear. I can hope, right?

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