DigiLit Sunday: Remembering the Notebook


Today I’m joining in with Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche for a DigiLit Sunday link up.

On Monday my students will be invited to our classroom Kidblog site.

They love blogging for many reasons. It’s social; it involves technology. But mostly because it is theirs.

There is no grading associated with the site.
Students can post their units of study work on them as a way to publish, but that is not required.
The only rule in blogging is that they are kind.

I read them; monitor them for appropriateness; showcase examples of excellence; use them to understand my writers; occasionally comment on them. The blog is their space. Students love the space to write. In fact, many don’t see blogging as writing.

Blogging has been a way for my students to find joy in writing.

But, there is a problem. My students are so digitally inclined, once we start blogging, notebooking becomes only a tool for gathering ideas for units of study. Notebooking becomes a must do. Students don’t choose it when the blog is available. The blog becomes their playground, and the notebooks lay fallow.

One could argue the blog has become a digital notebook. Student blogs could contain seeds of ideas. And they do. Still, I don’t believe the notebook can be replaced in a writer’s life.

The notebook is a private space. The blog is quite the opposite.

Tiny, silly, potentially embarrassing ideas won’t show up in a public space. They need to live elsewhere. These ideas need time to grow. In class. They need a little bit of guidance, outside the Writer’s Workshop.

So this year, notebooking is going to be given space. Just like I give myself.

It won’t be a natural thing for kids to do.I’ll have to nurture it. They may need inspiration. So here’s a plan.

The rule.
You write. About anything.

The understanding.
That writing can take many forms. Lists, pictures, poems, whatever is in your mind.

The time.
Mondays after music.
Wednesdays after checking out Wonderopolis.
Fridays after book recommendations.

This year, writers have and use notebooks.And perhaps writing will have a new place to live in students’ minds.


9 thoughts on “DigiLit Sunday: Remembering the Notebook

  1. I’m curious to hear how this progresses. It’s so hard to compete with the bling of the blog. Take it from me…I’m a great example of a blogger but a poor example of a notebooker, unless I am completely detached from my life flying in an airplane or at a remote locate (Europe, etc.) where I prefer to take in the sights and sounds without competition from technology. Perhaps you could provide some opportunities to take a break somewhere in school…such as the library; or a quiet place outside, weather permitting; or even the hallway if they are quiet (a privilege that can easily be revoked if behavior is inappropriate. With more “private” space they might be more inclined to think and write private thoughts. Just a suggestion….

  2. I love this post, Julieanne! I’ve been trying to answer this question with teachers for the last decade or so, and I have a fairly long list of reasons to keep and use the notebook in classrooms. Often, I stop myself mid-argument because I suddenly feel ancient, as if I’m arguing for quill pens and parchment. But I must say, you have nailed it with these two clear statements:

    “The notebook is a private space. The blog is quite the opposite.”

    You name exactly the loss I notice from students’ writing only digitally. There needs to be some space in kids’ lives for writing without audience considerations. For me, notebook writing also has more voice. Ooh, I am excited to quote your brilliant insight from now on!

    • As I wrote this post I started down that road of thinking that the notebook wasn’t needed for kids today. But I knew in my heart that wasn’t the case. Thinking about my own writing life it hit me. In our very public world of social media, the need for private reflection is all the more necessary. Your essay work pushed me to look closely at the notebook lives of my students. Thank you, thank you for that.

  3. There are so many ways to write that you model so well that I have no doubt that when you pull out your notebook for ideas – so will your students! Because – “. . .It won’t be a natural thing for kids to do. I’ll have to nurture it. They may need inspiration.” And YOU will provide that inspiration!

  4. I love that you provide options for your students while nurturing a love of writing. Non-digital versus digital does not have to be the debate. They can co-exist just fine in the classroom.

  5. I find it hard myself to keep up a writer’s notebook since I do so much of my writing on my blog (although, I’ve been lagging lately). I, too, am trying to keep the notebook alive and well in my classroom this year. Love your ideas!

  6. Julieanne, I love your idea of designated times during the day when the kids can just write for a few minutes in their writers notebooks. I just looked at my schedule and have identified a few times where this could happen for us, as well. I think by doing this we will remove the pressure and inauthenticity of using the writer’s notebooks only during writing workshop. I think we may see better choices of topics and genres during writing workshop as a result.

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