Jasper Roberts - Blog

Writer's Notebooks (Two-Day Introductory Lesson)

In this blog series, I'll talk about what I'm doing with writer's notebooks in my 7th grade classroom. Hopefully once this series is finished, which I'll be doing in real time with you, you will have a complete writer's notebook curriculum to use with students!

Ok. Before I start, did you know that they have cute icons for file folders that you can download for Windows? How did I not know this?? This is what my work laptop looks like now:

I downloaded the file folders from here: http://lemarquis.deviantart.com/art/japanese-pattern-folders-173774814

Day 1:

Pass out composition notebooks. I always buy mine in advance when there is a cheap sale.
Here are mine over the years. This year I found the ones on the right in a ton of different colors and very cheap at target! I let students pick whichever color they wanted, and then they wrote their name on the cover right away. 

The first thing you should do with students is fill out the initial table of contents. For this week, we included:
1-4     Table of Contents
5        "Write" Ideas Cover Page
6-7     Writing Survey
8-9     Rules and "100 Things I Love"
10-11 Writing Territories

Then students numbered every single page in their notebook. I've seen directions that say just to label the right side, but I'd rather not leave anything to chance. I feel like covering all your bases at the middle school is absolutely necessary, and this includes numbering all of the pages.

Then I asked students to create a cover page. This gets tricky. They've learned to write headers at the top of the pages, so I have many students accidentally do that as well. So, before they write anything, I walk around and show them what a cover page looks like. We also have a very quick discussion on what a cover page actually is.

 Next, I passed out the writing survey. Students had two pages to complete the writing survey. I also discussed what they should do if they run out of room. We walk through how to tape/glue in an extra page to the bottom. Students were asked to answer quickly and thoughtfully. This took about 20-25 minutes.

Homework: Finish Writing Survey if not done in class.

This is the end of Day 1.

Day 2:

To begin with, we got out our writer's notebooks, created a header, and wrote and reviewed the rules. I adapted these from Jeff Anderson. We discuss each one as we put it in the notebook.

Next, I passed out the slips of paper with the 100 Things I Love tag. Students glued it in their notebooks. We talked about the meaning of the word love, and I shared the "Pizza Love" analogy from Mary Beth Bonacci, who spoke about it when I was in high school at a retreat. You LOVE pizza, but you would let it get moldy in the back of the fridge and go bad. You also LOVE your family, but it's a different kind of love than pizza love. You wouldn't let neglect your family like you would pizza. We talked about all of the possibilities for writing these down. They could do a numbered list, group them in categories (which is what I did), write them all over the place, whatever is most comfortable for them. 

We also brainstormed some categories of things they could write about if they were stuck. Here are some of them: TV Shows, Clothing brands, Movies, Music, Colors, Food, Seasons, Nature, Family, Smells, Artists, YouTube Personalities, Websites, Social Media, Shoes, Books, Authors, Sports Teams, Subjects, Cities/Countries, Places, Things, Hobbies, Cars, etc...

Teacher Example

Students spent the rest of the time in class working on their hundred things. I told them they could talk quietly as long as they were writing more than talking. Only one class lost this privilege. It was as easy as saying, "You are now doing more speaking than writing, and therefore have lost the privilege of using your voice boxes for the rest of the period. You may now only talk to your notebook with your writing utensils."

Homework: Complete "100 Things I Love" for Monday

This is the end of Day 2

Any questions? :)

I'll be planning out a complete week tomorrow, and will be uploading the lessons and handouts for this week and next week on TpT tomorrow! For today, I'm off to Wizard World Chicago to "nerd" it up. Happy Saturday! :)


  1. Jen,
    I read one of your posts recently where you said your students will be submitting all writing assignments through Edmodo. We will start using Schoology (which is similar to Edmodo) this year and I was wondering how you manage the grading and giving feedback to the students about their writing.

  2. I love seeing how you prepared them for the 100 Things I Love activity. I'm planning on using that with the Genius Hour ISN I'm going to do as a place for them to start with ideas.

    Totally envious that you've got a WW convention in Chicago! :)

  3. Hey! I love this blog and the ideas for the writer's notebook. I can't seem to find any more lessons, besides the first two days. Are they up on this blog or can I find them anywhere else? Thanks.

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Thanks for stopping by! JW