I am so excited to take what I’ve been doing in first grade and apply it to third grade! I’ve been busy doing a ton of research on making a writer’s notebook and trying to get everything sorted out in my head.
I set up a rough draft of my Writer’s Notebook to figure out what I want to do (and don’t want to do) with my students.
Here is the cover of my Writer’s Notebook. I gathered pictures of people and things that are important to me and arranged them into a collage on the front. I glued all the pieces down and then covered it with packing tape to keep it secure. I think that having students do this will help when they are brainstorming. It is also helpful for kiddos who think better in pictures than in words. I will send a note home asking parents to send in family photos (that can be cut and glued) and also any other things students want to add.
Decorating the cover of our writer’s notebooks is the first thing we do. When we finish, we will lay the notebooks out and do a ‘gallery walk’ so that everyone can look at everyone else’s covers. After the gallery walk, students who want to share more can hold their notebook up and give more explanation about why they chose certain things. I feel like this accomplishes 2 things: we generate writing ideas/get the wheels turning and we build our classroom community when sharing out.
After decorating the cover comes the table of contents. It includes the topic and the page number. Pretty simple! We will not do the whole thing all at once. Students will add to the table of contents as we go.
The next tab is “Ideas for Writing”. Behind this tab is where we generate ideas for writing. When I taught 1st grade we would do a lot of our pre-writing and idea generating as a whole group with large circle maps. There are a few pages in here and each one has a different focus. On page 1 is “Things I Love”. This is the heart map that I’m sure you’ve seen before. Students can write down all the things in their life that they love- a variety of things ranging from “ice cream” to “baseball” to “family”.
Page 2 is called “Special Places”. This is where students can draw a map of places that are special to them and then jot down some notes for things that happened there. On my example I included my mom and dad’s house where we’ve had many Super Bowl parties and where my sister and I went four-wheeling around the neighborhood when it iced over.
On page 3 is “The Feelings Hand”. Students will trace their hands and choose 6 feelings that they could write about.
The next writing idea page is the “Expert List”. This is where students make a list of all the things that they consider themselves to be an expert in. This is a great page for when they feel like they don’t have anything to write about. Students can pick something that they know a lot about and start there!
Here is a page titled “Other Ideas” that students can jot down any other ideas of things they would like to write about. This is just kind of a catch-all for anything else that comes up.
And the last page of writing ideas on page 6 is “Wonderings”. Students can write questions of things that they are wondering. (Just a thought: When I have the kids do this, I am actually going to have this page be before “Other Ideas”… it just makes sense to me for “Other” to be last.)
The next tab is “Writing Goals”. In first grade we had a poster that had post-it notes with student names. The kids moved their sticky notes around when they met a goal. However in third grade, they can handle more specific goals. On this page of the Writer’s Notebook students will document the date that the goal is set and the date that the goal is met. They have one goal at a time. We won’t write another goal into the notebook until the previous one is met.
Next up is “Vocabulary”. This section is pretty self-explanatory! This where students write out words that they’d like to include in their writing. It is also a place to write words they find interesting.
This is a section for students to take notes on writing lessons. A lot of what the students write in this section comes from our anchor charts. I am specific on what to write in this section. I also make sure to include a date for the notes, that way we can use that as a reference.
And last but not least is the section for planning, drafting, revising, and editing. When students choose to publish a piece of writing, they will use publishing paper to write it out in their best handwriting. Or, they can publish on the computer or iPad. When I taught first grade we used folders and students turned in their writing as they finished. I like the idea of students being able to see their progress throughout the year all in one place.
A few of the pieces in this notebook are things that I’ve seen other teachers implement. Some are twists on other things I’ve implemented in first grade. I hope that seeing these pictures helps you figure out what you’d like to do for your Writer’s Notebook!
Also, if you are looking for something to place in your writing center, these Real Photo Writing Prompt Cards would be a great addition!