Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Reader's Notebooks

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.

Discussion Ideas:
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?

7 Brilliant Teaching Thoughts:

Mrs. Shepherd said...

I like your ramblings so keep 'em coming. Do you require your 4th graders to write a letter every week? I have found some really great downloads here

Nicole said...

Wow. I can see how having to review 20+ notebooks a week and respond to them would be a weekend-filler! I only have one student to do, and I assure you there will be weekends that Sunday night hits and I realize I haven't done it! :( I think Donalyn Miller has it "easier" because her class is a literature class, so that's what they do. Incorporating it into a general elementary class would be harder, in my opinion. Good luck with your system!!!

I was wondering if you could "partner" your students and have them write responses to each other and exchange them? Then maybe once a month you could collect the partners' notebooks, review them, give YOUR response and then conference with the two of them. I don't know .. just came to me.

Beth said...

@Mrs. Shepherd- I think I will run my notebooks on our Day 1-10 cycle. So if Billy's notebook is due on Day 1 which is a Monday, he won't have another one due until Day 6 which would be the following Monday....or I might split them up even more and just give them 1 day a only every Day 1 which means they would hand them in every 2 weeks.

Beth said...

@Nicole- When I taught intermediate I had 50+ students...2 classes of Language Arts everyday. That's a lot of Reader's Notebooks but it is doable if you do a few day. I like your idea of having the students write to each other...maybe I can do a combination of both?

Rachel said...

Are you going to have your students respond daily to a book they are reading or just when they finish a book? From the book, it seems that Miller only has the response letters when a student finished the book, but I might be mistaken. When I did Reader's Notebooks last year, my students had to journal every day about their reading. What do you do?

Go Fourth! With Mrs. Owens

Beth said...

@Rachel- I think I am going to have them respond every other week to me and on the alternating weeks they will respond to a peer in the class. I did every week with my grade 7 and 8's in the past but I am going to start slow and build up with my 4's. I will definitely post more about it as I go.

Delena Allen said...

Tried to link ups but was closed--I am doing a little series on Reading 101 (well reading workshop). I have been following your posts and responded to your discussion questions to go with my series. Love all the ideas! I love reading your updates on The Book Whisperer.
Love your blog!
Learn with ME in Grade Three

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