Sunday, June 24, 2012

Notebook Know How: Chapter 1

Every year I pick an area of instruction that I want to strengthen and develop as a teacher. This happens to be the year for writing. I recently purchased Notebook Know-How by Aimee Buckner and started reading the first chapter tonight. After each chapter I am going to spend time reflecting on what I've learned and some of the "ah-ha" moments I encountered in my reading.

The first chapter focuses on why Aimee believes notebooks are crucial for budding writers. She begins the book by painting this picture of students bringing in their personal notebooks to store their words and thoughts, but simultaneously gets bombarded with questions about size of the notebooks, how much needs to be written, what exactly is an "entry," and a myriad of other notebook requirements. I so relate to this because my students gave me the same grief and I really couldn't adequately answer them. Aimee also goes on to attempt a remedy by providing the notebooks for her students, but comes to the conclusion that she does too much for her students. The writing does not belong to the students, it belongs to the teacher. Again, this was my classroom to a "T". 

Aimee goes on write about the true purpose of the writing notebook - "to practice living like a writer." Wow! The writer has become more than just a school subject, but it is now a way of life. It is something intentionally done on a daily basis. My questions now are... What does the life of a writer look like and sound like in the classroom? What if I don't have anything significant to write about? I struggled with this a little bit because there are times where I don't blog because I don't feel like I have anything "blog worthy," especially when there are so many talented authors out there in the blogosphere. Aimee addresses this directly in her book! We don't write because we always have something significant to share, but we find significance later as we revisit and reflect on our writing. We find significance and meaning in our writing when we make it a daily habit and we put that writing in our notebook. 

In summary, keeping a notebook is a process. There's no right or wrong way to keep a notebook, but remember the true purpose behind the notebook. It's to simply practice the act of writing. It's the act of writing that leads the author to significance. 

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book. I think I'm going to learn a lot and model a love of writing to inspire my students to live like a writer. 

Thanks for reading my ramblings! Come back soon to read about Chapter 2 - Launching the Notebook. 


  1. I like how you pick one area a year to focus on as a teacher. That makes being a good teacher feel a lot more manageable!

    Marvelous Multiagers!

    1. Jill - I totally agree! I'm one of those teachers that takes on way too much thinking I can handle it, only to be disappointed later. My focus is on one subject now rather than 3-4. :)

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. I love notebooks! I started with Social Studies and am now getting together ideas for a Math notebook. I love that my students can express what they're learning in their own words! :-)
    Love your cute beachy blog. It's 'warm, sunny, and fun!" AND makes me wanna' go to the beach!!!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm a new follower!

    1. Michelle - thanks for the follow! I'd definitely like to be on the beach right about now! I'm looking forward to reading and learning more about notebooking with this book. I've used them with my students, but I'd like to be able to use them more effectively so they're not a chore.

      Thanks for stopping by!