Launching Writer’s Notebooks
Written by Mary Gage Davis
As the school year began, children in Opal 3 worked for days carefully crafting maps
to capture their summers, the feelings, places and experiences they wanted to
remember long after the warm days of summer had passed.
With these maps in hand, children began
meeting in small storytelling groups where they read their maps to each other, exchanged stories, asked questions and made connections.
Soon children began
to ask, “Can we write our stories down now?” As teachers, we knew this was our cue, this was the time to launch our writer’s notebooks.
“A writer’s notebook can be many things:
a place to make mistakes,to experiment, to record overheard conversations or family stories, to remember an inspiring quotation, to free
associate, to ask questions, to record beautiful or unusual language, to jot down the seeds
of unborn stories or story beginnings… or to describe a picture or a person or
an image you can’t get our of your head. A writer’s notebook is a receptacle, a
tool to hold on to things.”
Hindley, In the Company of Children
With great ceremony we gathered in a circle on the stage
with a huge stack of fresh black and white speckled notebooks in front of us,
ready to launch the writer’s notebook.
Some children looked on with curiosity and amusement while others
gasped, “I’ve been waiting for this day.”
As children opened their notebooks for the first time, they
found their summer maps pasted inside, an invitation to join the writerly life. The invitation was accepted and here’s
a peek at some of those first snippets, those small moments that children chose to capture:
- waking up to my brother jumping on my bed
- birthday dinner with my family
- the clear sparkling water splashing me smack in the face
- paddling with all my might, passing other rafts
- Walking for miles and finally reaching great big firey waterfalls
- Taking pictures of beautiful cliffs and silky spiderwebs strung with dew drops
I wait behind a tree for my brother to come. I wait. I wait until shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I squirt him. Then he ran to the garage and got a water gun and got me back. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. And that's how the water war began.
Circling and circling on my bike, wind swishing across my face. Then… CRASH! I hit the grey pavement, my arm bleeding. I pick myself up and look at it, then I run over to my mom crying and crying like crazy.
Sitting, tired, wishing to be there soon. Happy to go on vacation but tired of sitting in a car. My legs feel like jello. My stomach feels sick. My head feels like a rock.
My mom wants me to take out the compost. I beg no no please. It is no use. I open the door. I put on my flip-flops then I head off for the compost bin. When I put my hand on the lid I hold my breath. I open it then I see all the food scraps and a swarm of flies. I let go of the lid and it bangs against the back.
Through the daily use of writer's notebooks, Opal 3 students wil continue to explore the craft of writing, how to live life like a writer, to see the world from a new perspective and to slow down and capture small moments.