Andriana and I have so enjoyed getting ideas from this book to revamp our writing workshop this year, and we hope you have too! Make sure to check out her post here where she unpacks hacks 3 & 4.
Unpack the Hack: 5 Build a Better Notebook
In the fifth chapter, Stockman shares the ways that creating a purposeful notebook can benefit writers of all ages. She mentions the importance of having writers create notebooks with intention and purpose by organizing a notebook into sections such as: idea-keeping, notes, tinkering, and self-assessment/reflection.
Some of the biggest takeaways I took from the fifth hack include:
- Notebooks should be containers for ideas (that writers may or may not use)
- Create notebooks that are designed to reflect a greater purpose
- Inspire ownership in writers’ notebooks
- It’s important to check in with writers’ notebooks through conferencing
At this point, I do use writing notebooks in my classroom, but we use them during our Daily 5 center time. I have sentence stems that I give kids to help them practice writing complete sentences, and to give them a prompt to start their thinking. However, I realize the importance of giving my students a variety of tools with which to write, especially since many of my kids are not as comfortable using print yet, and I want all writers to feel successful.
This year I want to try to change my notebooks into something more purposeful as Stockman describes. Having sections to our notebooks would certain help my students be able to generate and keep ideas for their builds and drafts. At the beginning of the year, this might look like drawings, but by helping children begin to label their ideas, this could help them reflect back at their thinking and improve upon other ideas.
The tinkering section of our notebook would be a great place to teach children tips on using shapes to draw main characters in our writing, or do a mini-lesson on adding speech bubbles or using eyebrows to show emotions. Kids could use this section to experiment with different ways to draw their characters or facial expressions, then use these drawings later on in their stories.
Unpack the Hack: 6 Co-Create a Just-Right Curriculum
Some of the biggest takeaways I took from the sixth hack include:
- Redesign an emergent curriculum with empathy mapping
- Challenge students to help define and establish learning targets
- Document students’ learning
- Ask great questions and extend writers’ learning (she includes some fantastic specific question stems to use during writing conferences)
One of my biggest connections in this hack was the idea of empathy mapping and focusing on the why of our writing workshop. In kindergarten, we spend a lot of time learning alongside our school counselor’s classroom lessons about empathy and what it means to take someone else’s feelings into account. We do this through so many ways – real life situations, on the spot experiences, puppet scenarios, and all things Daniel Tiger.
Utilizing empathy mapping will not only allow us as teachers to create strong relationships with our students, but it will also help our class understand one another’s lives and lift one another up. This will help children understand that we are all good at certain things, and learn from their peers. As a teacher, this also provides a path to get into our why of writing workshop as we can co-create the learning experiences in our writing curriculum together.
This image from author Angela Stockman really helped me start thinking of ways I can prepare ideas to work with my class to design authentic learning experiences in our writing workshop time. I truly look forward to coming up with new ideas with my class this year that will interest them during our writing time, and helping all of my writers feel empowered during our writing time with these new ideas.
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