At the final training of the year at one of my focus schools last week, I challenged my fellow educators with this: "This summer, consider starting your own writer's notebook that you can show your students next fall."   I showed them some new pages I'd recently added to my own writer's notebook (which I just started this year and which I had been showing them all year).

About the challenge, I got a lot of "Yeah, right" looks from the majority of the teachers, but at the end of that final workshop, several (less than 10%) came up to me and told me of their intentions to do just start their first writer's notebooks.

I spent this whole year diligently challenging teachers to share their own writing with their students more.  Share their notebooks, share their rough drafts, share their revision strategies, share their final drafts...just share something.   "You'll see a whole new energy about writing from your students if you do this," I assured them, citing my own past experience.

I get it--the resistance from teachers--and yet I kind of don't.  We share our reading strategies with our students.  We share or problem solving thinking when we work on math.  Why are we so resistant to sharing our writing process?  How messed up did our own schooling make us that we're so afraid of showing our own writing to a bunch of kids who--more likely than not--look up to us? 

PLEASE...a final plea as my hair turns a bit more gray based on teachers' general unwillingness to do this...PLEASE...change your practices and include yourself in the writing process more next year.  PLEASE.

Start a writer's notebook this summer.  Just get a few pages done that you can show your students in the fall.

My final writer's notebook challenge for the summer is for teachers...teachers whom I hope will start their own notebooks this summer.  Students can do this one too, but I'm talking to teachers today!

Here's the notebook challenge:  think of three favorite toys from your own childhood or that belong to your own children.  Create a page that shares the "thinking" you think those toys would do if they were accidentally lost.  What would those toys' voices sounds like?  What would they say to their missing owners?  Where would they be lost?  Here is my notebook page based on this simple prompt; it contains both images and words to inspire me to write more:

We have a whole WritingFix assignment that takes this thought, develops it, and challenges students to create a poem.  Click here to access WritingFix's "Little Lost Toy" Poems.  I believe this to be a fantastic lesson to start your students writing next year; certainly, it's better than "Write about what you did this summer."  I believe any teacher who shows off his/her own notebook page to motivate students' thinking will have an amazingly better degree of success with this lesson.  And with most every other lesson.

Writer's Notebooks, I have learned, increase students' quality of thinking during pre-writing.  There's no better time to make a teacher notebook model than during the summer. 

PLEASE...let's do this.



  1. Corbett, I agree with you 100%! As a literacy coach, I also share my writing in a notebook with students as part of my lessons. Students need to see their teachers thinking, writing drafts, and revising their own writing. I have discussions with them and elicit their thoughts on my writing as I share it under the document camera. It creates such a sense of a writer's community in the room. I make sure that I give the classroom teacher time to write in their very own writer's notebooks, and they also gain confidence and grow as writers over time. Your work is fabulous Corbett! Thank-you for all that you do to promote effective writing instruction. :)

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