Monday, July 4, 2016

Monday Made-It

Here I am joining up with 4th Grade Frolics for the Monday Made-It.

Today, I wanted to share with you two items that I worked on over the last week.  My Reader's Notebook and my Writer's Notebook.

The Reader's Notebook is one of my favorite things to use with students.  It really gives them an outlet to "talk" to their books.  I teach them how to use Post-It notes to write notes in their books, then they use the notes to write in their notebooks.  There are a lot of resources out there regarding readers notebooks.  Founts & Pinnell got me started with this work, thanks to some trainings that I was a part of several years ago.  Aimee Buckner wrote about using notebooks in her classroom, and Notebook Connections is a great resource for getting started.  Also, if you haven't read The Book Whisperer, please stop whatever you are doing and go get yourself a copy!

When we start the school year, I give everyone a plain old composition notebook.  (I got some at Office Depot last week for $1.50/3-pack because they price-matched the Walmart ad for the colored ones priced at 50 cents each.)  The students' first homework assignment for reading is to find photos and images (I do let them use Google images.) that describe them as readers.  These images can be just about anything, as long as they describe the students as readers.

The first thing we do is cover the composition notebook.  Usually, I have them choose colored construction paper, but I might give the kids access to my scrapbook paper this year.  I have a bunch that I need to get rid of.  Once it's papered, they put the images on the front and back covers of the book.

My photos on the front are of my niece reading to my dog, my niece and nephew during their first trip to the library, my sister reading to me when I was a baby, and my Fourth Graders several years ago reading together.  Of course, I am always ordering books and visiting book stores.  On the back, I have the first library I visited, my Masters degree, some of the books I've read recently, and photos of James Patterson and Gary Paulsen because I like their books.

Students will decorate the notebook covers, and I will affix a label to the top corner with their name.  Once the notebooks are decorated, I will ask parent volunteers to help cover the notebooks with clear contact paper the way mine is.

Inside the notebook, there are four important parts...

Students need a place to keep up with the titles of the books they've read.  One copy of this page is stapled into the front cover of the notebook.  Students list the title and author.  Then, they make a note to show they either completed (date completed) or abandoned (just the letter A) the text.  The last column is reserved for labeling the book "easy," "just right," or "challenging."  As students read (or attempt and abandon) more and more  books, they will staple a new sheet on top of this sheet.  That way, all of the books they've read will be recorded in the notebook by the end of the year.

On the first page of the notebook, students glue the tally chart.  This tally chart will help students track books they complete to meet the requirements of the 40 Book Requirement for reading.  I used the same list found in The Book Whisperer, but I plan to keep record of students' interests as well as make sure the requirements fit the standards.  This year will be a sort of social experiment. ;)

At the bottom of this page, students will glue a chart that we will make together to describe how we choose "good fit" or "just right" books.  (We will make that chart together, so I don't have one yet.)

Stapled into the back cover of the notebook will be a wish list.  Just a list of books students want to read based on their own desires or the suggestions of their friends (or their teacher).  Again, as students' wish lists grow, they will staple pages on top of the previous pages.

As for the pages of the notebook, students will write their responses to reading, of course!  They will also glue anchor charts into the book starting at the back.  (I'm sure there will be more explanation on this in a later blog post once we get going.)

The Writer's Notebook won't take too much explanation.  The concept is the same.

Some resources to think about as you are getting started with your writing notebooks... Fountas & Pinnell's Guiding Readers and Writers, Aimee Buckner's Notebook Know-How, and let's face it... Just about anything by Ralph Fletcher, Lucy Calkins, and Ruth Culham.  (Another suggestion... If you haven't read The Writing Thief, what are you waiting for??)

Students will find photos or print images to decorate their notebooks.  Again, they will start with the construction paper or scrapbook paper, add their images and photos, then parents will (fingers crossed) help cover the notebooks with contact paper.

There are some authors out there that suggest waiting to give students the notebooks until they start questioning why you keep writing in yours. (I can't remember if that was Aimee Buckner or Lucy Calkins or Ruth Culham or who, but I read it somewhere.)  I don't do that with older kids.  In my opinion, they need to start writing as soon as possible, and they can't use a notebook that I just haven't given them because no one is questioning me.  I like the concept because it helps create ownership, but... ain't nobody got time for that!)

I blog, I Facebook, I text, I email, I write...

I didn't decorate both sides of this notebook for two reasons.  First, I didn't want students to feel like they have to have a ton of images.  Just a few would be fine.  Also, I just couldn't really think of much else that describes me as a writer. Ha!Ha!

Inside the notebook, students will use the writing strategies that we learn in class.  Anchor charts will again be glued into the notebook starting on the back page, and the writing practice will happen within the notebook daily.  

Well, that's it for now.  There probably won't be much happening for next week's Monday Made-It because I'll be visiting my family for the week.  I won't get back home until just after midnight on Sunday.  No time for making anything... Unless I can get something going with my niece and nephew this week.  Of course, that wouldn't be made for my classroom. ;)

What have you been making?  Go link up your post!


  1. Happy 4th Carrie. Thank you for sharing your notebooks. Your scholars will definitely enjoy them!

    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoyed your holiday as well!
      I'm looking forward to being able to use reading and writing notebooks with my students again! :)

  2. Lots of great info here! The Book Whisperer was fab!!!! I go back to it often! Thank you for linking up:)