Every year I play with and change the way I organize things in my classroom...looking for that one magical way that will finally work. Binder? Notebook? Technology? I reexamine the pros and cons about where to hold assessment data, where to put notes taken during strategy groups, how and where I want my students to hold their thinking while reading. Every year I make changes. I have discussions with colleagues about what they do. I reread professional books that have touched my teaching journey in some way. And what did I finally realize this week...it is not about me (that was a hard one to accept :), it is about the students you have "now" that will make it successful or call for readjustments.
I start the beginning of each reader's workshop with Status of the Class, but the first day after spring break I decided to do something different. I did "Status of our Reader's Notebooks." I asked my students to talk a walk through their notebooks to see the kind of thinking they were holding on to. We shared with a partner. We compared. We "oohed" at thinking that we had not thought of doing while reading. So...this anchor chart was born. We titled it, "Ways to use our reader's notebooks." We even did one for fiction and one for non-fiction. We copied examples and colored coded them to match the "focus" of our thinking. I can not believe the level of thinking that students were holding on to and their sense of "urgency" for doing so. Each student develops their own plan. I model and guide strategies during mini-lessons, but the class has the choice to use the ones that they need. This mini-lesson ( Alright...it was not "mini"....it lasted well over 15 minutes and was not like a football huddle. It was more like the post-game show after a football game) has rejuvenated our thinking on how to use our notebooks and ways that we could challenge our thinking. I am excited to see what new "jots" develop after looking at all the possibilities!
Remember..."Read with a pen in your hand and enter in a little book short hints of what you find that is curious or that might be useful; for this will be the best method of imprinting such particulars in your memory, where they will be ready on some future occasion to adorn and improve your conversation." -Benjamin Franklin