Decorating a Writer's Notebook
If you haven't tried writer's notebooks with your students, I cannot encourage you enough to get started! Over the past five years, I have learned so much about how to make them more useful and meaningful to my students; however, the one aspect that hasn't changed has been decorating them! I require every student to use a composition notebook (because we don't tear things out of our notebooks!). We bring in magazines, newspapers, printed images, and photographs and we spend a whole class period (or two) decorating our notebooks with our passions, interests, hopes, and dreams. It is really important that every student includes their name on the front so that you can easily identify whose notebook it is!
In the posts to follow, I will be sharing the writing activities that I use with my students to create a really solid foundation for individualized poem/story topics to be used the rest of the year. As you introduce a brainstorm list or activity to your students, it is SO incredibly important that you share your own with them (or even create the list right in front of them!). I love doing this with my students, especially when I am meeting a new class because it is a great opportunity to share a little about myself, but more importantly, to learn about the students' unique interests and personalities. These lists provide moments to share about family situations, favorite pastimes, and challenges overcome.
For each of the brainstorm lists/activities to come in the following posts, share your examples (see mine as a starting point for yours!) and then allow students a significant amount of time to brainstorm. I always require five minutes of silent brainstorming, followed by some sharing out as a class to get the ideas rolling, followed by another ten minutes of quiet brainstorming. After the ten minutes, I find that the students are dying to share their ideas with their classmates, so I usually give them more time after that to talk and add ideas on in partners and small groups. I find that varying the ways in which they brainstorm leads to much better brainstorm lists!