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Update on Writer’s Notebooks October 18, 2007

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This week I have been grading my students’ writer’s notebooks, and I am impressed! Some of my students are really deep thinkers. Who would have thought 6th and 7th graders could be so deep! I am still amazed on how some still do not take them home and write in them. I am going to have to start taking them up more often. I have taken up 7th grade’s twice and 6th grade’s once. My goal for next quarter is to take them up at least 3-4 times.

I take up 4-5 notebooks a day, so I don’t have 80 notebooks to grade on one day. This is easy to manage as well, and I can get the notebooks graded while they are working on an assignment. That way I can get the notebook back before class ends.

Be wary; I did get a scare. One of my students wrote do not read on the tops of a few pages, so of course I was curious. Usually when they write that, they are mad at someone, but not this time. Some scary words caught my eye and so I “read”, and was horrified from what I read. Now I need to talk to the guidance counselor and their parents. I just encourage you to make sure you read what your students write and take the notebooks up periodically!

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6 Responses to “Update on Writer’s Notebooks”

  1. I am so glad I came across your blog. I have also been through and facilitated a NWP site (NIWP… northern Idaho and eastern Washington), also teach middle school ( this year 7th and 8th… small school we loop our middle school students),and I use writing notebooks. I will be back to visit.

  2. aredden Says:

    Have your students been told to write, “Do not read” at the top of the page when they write things they do not want you to read? Why do they write that? I’m just curious.

  3. hey2blondie Says:

    I only told my 7th grade class to fold the page over if they didn’t want me to read their entry, however, because of this I will not allow them to do this anymore. I read on someone’s blog that they do that, but with all of the crazy “stuff” in this world, you really can’t do that.

  4. Ruth Says:

    I would encourage students to fold a page over if something personal came out in their writer’s notebook entry. This was a sign to everyone in the class that they shouldn’t read that entry. (We did a lot of collaborating & students were constantly looking at each other’s notebooks.) However, with that came this disclaimer: We’re the only ones who know this rule, so if you would leave your notebook somewhere & another teacher or principal or someone would find your notebook & read those pages, you need to be sure you won’t get in trouble for what you’ve written.

    Early on in my teaching & writer’s notebook use, I had a student make a “hit list” & then fold the page over. Ugh.

    This disclaimer also allowed me a way to look at those pages without breaking trust. Although rarely did I ever look at them. There had to be something that concerned me — something beyond curiousity –before I turned the folded page.

    I also tell students that if I see anything in their notebook (or writing) that concerns me for their safety or the safety of someone else, then I’m obligated to report my concern to the guidance counselors. With that, comes my promise that I will always go to the student before I go to the counselor.

    And I follow through. Suicide, abuse, drugs, alcohol, sex — you name it, it’s come up. As awkarad & heart wrenching as it is to address, I’m still thankful that these things come out. It’s why I teach — because I care about adolescents.

    There’s just so much that can come out in writing. And once you’ve established a safe community, then the crummy stuff of life seems to flow out on the page. It’s rough to read . . . but I consider it a compliment. They trust you enough to share their deepest concerns. It’s tough to address these issues, but at least now they’re out in the open.

    I hope things turn out okay with your student. I’d love to know an update.

  5. hey2blondie Says:

    What I worry about is those students who don’t strike you as something is going on. Then you don’t read the notebook and the signs were always there. I don’t want to be held liable. My school preaches this all the time. I am thankful that they are willing to share their thoughts.

  6. Stacey Says:

    Kids need to know that the WN is semi-private.

    Ditto on the stapled page though. However, if they trust you, which I’m sure they do, then they’ll keep the page open as a way to ask for help.


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