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Using Writer's Notebooks during Pre-writing
bringing two WritingFix lessons together to inspire a writer's notebook page of ideas

Navigating WritingFix:

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:

Paradox and Oxymoron Collections:
celebrating great title ideas
for future poems

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 think about and begin collecting interesting examples of paradoxes and oxymorons on a notebook page. WritingFix has two lessons (complete with mentor texts, interactive word games, and student samples) that will help a teacher introduce these concepts. Once students have created a page that celebrates these two literary devices, they can be encouraged to re-visit the page the next time they are looking for a writing topic to explore during writer's workshop. Oxymorons and paradoxes make great titles for original poems, and an original poem is what the student can be encouraged to create.

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.


Two Lessons to Inspire a Writer's 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 oxymorons and paradoxes.

Lesson #1
Lesson #2

Paradox Poetry

Mentor Text: Inaudible Melodies, sung by Jack Johnson.

Focus Trait: Word Choice
Support Trait: Voice

This original lesson was created for WritingFix by NNWP Consultant Jamie Priddy.

The Backwards Poem Assignment

Mentor Text: The opening paragraph of Holes by Louis Sachar.

Focus Trait: Word Choice
Support Trait: Voice

This original lesson was created for WritingFix by NNWP Consultant Kelly Nott .

Publising Notebook-inspired Student Writing

If your students create a notebook page on oxymorons and paradoxes, then use one of their ideas to create an original poem, we want to help you publish it! Teachers may submit up to three samples from their classroom at our publishing blog.

To submit a student's paradox poem, use this link.

To submit a student's backwards poem, 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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