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Using Notebooks as Pre-writing Tools for WritingFix Lessons
bringing two WritingFix lessons together to inspire a writer's notebook page of ideas

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WritingFix's Homepage

Our Writer's Notebook Homepage


In the Amelia's Notebook series (by Marissa Moss), Amelia often dedicates pages of our writer's notebook to topics that suddenly strike her as interesting enough to capture on a notebook page.

If you teach students early on to create pages that celebrate interesting ideas, then encourage them to develop those ideas further during writer's workshop time, your students will find a new excitement and a new purpose for their writers' notebooks.

The write-up on this page demonstrates how you can teach your students to dedicate a page in their notebooks to an interesting future topic for writing about.

Welcome to this Lesson:

Animal Sounds Collection:
celebrating word-choice inspired descriptions for future poems or stories or other pieces of writing

a lesson designed to inspire an interesting writer's notebook page for future writing

During 2010 and 2011, we began creating new lessons on writer's notebooks, and we revised exisiting lessons at our website to be more writer's notebook-friendly.

Much of our inspiration came from Aimee Buckner's wonderful book for teachers: Notebook Know-How: Strategies for the Writer's Notebook.

This is a writer's notebook-friendly lesson! The lesson suggestion on this page, which will guide students to create a notebook page (like this one), was created by synthesizing the big ideas from two lessons that had been a part of WritingFix for many years. If you visit WritingFix's Writer's Notebook Resources Homepage, you will find more lessons and prompts designed to inspire original thinking in your students' notebooks.

Notebook Strategy Overview:

Over several days, students will be invited to think about word-play specifically inspired by the names of animals and known facts about animals. Discussions inspired by the two mentor texts cited below will have students really thinking about how words sound and how good writers collect interesting-sounding phrases and sentences that might inspire future writing. Once students have created a notebook page that quotes Ogden Nash, Douglas Florian, and any other word-play authors, they can begin creating funny-sounding, original descriptions inspired by any type of animal. During a future writer's workshop block, students can use their original phrases to inspire a poem or piece of writing that honors the writing styles of Nash or Florian.

Pre-writing...85% of the Process?

A rationale for writer's notebooks: The great teacher and author, Donald Graves, once suggested that if you're teaching the writing process authentically, 85% of your students' time should be spent in the pre-writing step. That's a pretty big number, but we agree that teachers should find meaningful activities and opportunities to engage students in long before their pencils start composing on lined paper. Thinking about possible writing topics, analyzing an inspiring mentor text, talking in groups about ideas for future writing, completing graphic organizers and brainstorms, these are all activities that can become part of that 85% goal, which we consider to be a valuable goal. In addition to those tasks, keeping a writer's notebook can also help contribute a student's pre-writing.

The suggested notebook activity on this page was created to honor that lofty notion of 85% of the time devoted to pre-writing.

Lessons that Contribute to this Notebook Page:

The lessons below were not written to specifically be writer's notebook lessons, but they contain big ideas that--when combined with the teacher model of the intended notebook page--can be adapted to inspire the set-up of a notebook page, and then be used to inspire a future poem from the student.

Below are the two lessons whose ideas have been synthesized to inspire this model notebook page. You can teach the two lessons in any order, or you can simply borrow some big ideas from either lesson in order to help your students shape a page in their notebooks that celebrate the sounds of animal names.

Lesson #1
Lesson #2

Nash-ing the Animals

Mentor Text: various word-play poems about animals, by the great Ogden Nash.

Focus Trait: Word Choice
Support Trait: Voice

This original lesson was created for WritingFix by NNWP Consultant Dena Harrison.

Poems to Bug Your Reader

Mentor Text: various poems from Douglas Florian's awesome collection, insectlopedia.

Focus Trait: Word Choice
Support Trait: Idea Development

This original lesson was created for WritingFix by NNWP Consultant Denise Gallues.

Publising Notebook-inspired Student Writing

If your students create a notebook page on word play inspired by animal names, then use one of their ideas to create an original poem or piece of writing, we want to help you publish it! Teachers may submit up to three samples from their classroom at our publishing blog.

To submit an Ogden Nash-inspired poem or piece of writing, use this link.

To submit a Douglas Florian-inspired poem or piece of writing, use this link.

In order to post, you will need to be a member of our Online Student Publishing Group at our site-sponsored ning.

If we end up featuring one of your student's writing at the WritingFix website, we will send you a complimentary copy of one of the NNWP's print guides for your classroom.

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