I love reader's notebooks and have been doing them for quite a few years. I started them when I taught Grade 7 and 8 and I was amazed at how well I was able to get to know my students, both personally and as readers. Last year when I loved from Grade 8 to Grade 4 (huge jump) I didn't use them because I wasn't too sure about what they would be capable of and I was only staying for 4 months due to my pregnancy.
But this year!!!! I am starting right away. The first day! Well, maybe not the first day. But soon.
When I have used Reader's Notebooks in the past I created a set of questions for each week that the students used to help create their letters and of course they were able to write about what they loved about the book, questions they had for me, etc. I usually started the year off with a length requirement but soon found that most students pushed themselves far past the requirements and some were practically writing novels themselves!! LOL
When I taught Grade 7 and 8 I also taught 2 classes on rotary which meant 50 Reader's Notebooks to read every week....whew. I assigned a few students to each day of the week to hand in their books so that I only had about 5 or so to read. This means that you are doing a little marking everyday but it sure beats hauling 50 notebooks home every Friday! In my school system we run on a Day 1-10 schedule which I think would really spread out my marking but it would also mean that I would go two weeks between seeing some student's Reader's Notebooks. I think now that I have only 1 class of Grade 4's, who will write less that 7's and 8's I might break my class in to three groups and assign them due dates of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. If I had a class of 25 or so that would be 8 Reader's Notebooks to read each night? I might think on this more....I am worried if I use the Day 1-10 schedule that students will forget to do their Reader's Notebook and it won't become as much of a habit as it would if it was every week. Perhaps I could break the class into 5 groups and assign them 2 days each cycle! So Group A would hand their Reader's Notebooks on Day 1 and Day 6!! Hmmm, I like that idea.
Sorry, for my rambling...something I tend to think "outloud" to find a good solution.
1) Have you used Reader's Notebooks in the past? If so what did you like about it?
2) If you have not used Reader's Notebooks how do you plan to incorporate them this year into your reading program?
3) How will you schedule the Reader's Notebook due dates in order to be able to effectively read and respond authentically to all your students?