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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

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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:

A Winter Poetry Contest
Parody Launches: Poems & Songs
capturing a few lines of parody in one's notebook to inspire a future, longer piece of poetry

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:

After creating whole-class poetic parodies about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, students devote a page in their notebooks to the topic of parody. Over several days or weeks, students are challenged to revisit and create a few new lines of parody inspired by famous poems and/or familiar songs that have a distinguishable rhythm. After they have a few ideas captured on their individual notebook pages, they are challenged to write a longer poem on that uses one of their short notebook parodies. This lesson is actually a winter poetry contest sponsored by the Northern Nevada Writing Project and WritingFix, and teachers may submit up to three of their students' best parody poems online. Details for submitting poems can be found by visiting the two lessons below.

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 Choose from to Enter the Contest:

Our contest is focused on students creating a parody--of either a famous poem or of a familiar song. To create the writer's notebook page and enter the contest, you can do either or both of the following lessons.

Below are the two WritingFix lessons whose ideas will inspire this model notebook page. Remember, if you're planning on entering our winter poetry contest, you don't need to teach both lessons; choosing one or the other will provide enough guidance for students to create poems/songs that can be entered. But both lessons are fun!

Lesson #1
Lesson #2

Parody Poems

Mentor Text: Science Verse by John Scieszka

Focus Trait: Sentence Fluency
Support Trait: Idea Development

This original lesson was featured at the NNWP's 2004 Pinon Poetry Festival.

Song Parodies about School

Mentor Text: Take Me Out of the Bathtub by Alan Katz

Focus Trait: Sentence Fluency
Support Trait: Idea Development

This original lesson was featured at the NNWP's 2004 Pinon Poetry Festival.

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 parody poem (inspired by the Science Verse lesson), use this link.

To submit a student's song parody about school (inspired by the Take Me Out of the Bathtub lesson), 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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