Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reader's Notebooks

I love notebooks! I've been an avid keeper of a Writer's Notebook for years! I had not however ever thought about a Reader's Notebook and how that could serve me as a reader, a teacher of readers/reading, and a teacher of teachers until this summer.

I was in Memphis TN when I decided to make one! I was teaching teachers the next day, but I had a rental car and I had passed a few dollar stores on my way to my hotel. So off I went.

The picture below is what transpired with a few items from the Dollar Store and a little scrapbook paper.  The only thing missing was a little mod-podge but I knew I could do that part at home.

So what does a teacher DO with a Reader's Notebook one might ask? 

I divided mine into SECTIONS first. Each page marking the section decorated with more scrapbook paper of course! 

My Life as a Reader
My Life as a Reading Teacher
Independent Reading
Read Alouds

My Life as a Reader

I am going to use this section to PAY ATTENTION to the kind of reader that I am! There's a list of my likes and dislikes in reading. Pictures of my favorite books and favorite genres and the reasons why I read them. I am using this section to write down lines I love from books I have read and will continue to read. 

I used this section to write down my reading memories too. Thinks like Book It and trips to the used bookstore with my Grandma as a kid.  My reading memories become reading memories I can share with my students- thus helping them connect to reading memories. 

My favorite item in this section is my Reading Timeline. I got the idea from Julie Ballew! When I do this activity with teachers, you should just see them LIGHT UP! Readers have memories of books- books that stand out in our history- books we will always remember. I challenge you to make your own reading timeline and see what shows up for you! Here is mine...

My Life as a Reading Teacher

In this section I'm going to keep track of what I'm teaching or could teach my readers.  I see this section as a personal brainstorming place or record of anchor charts I've used in the classroom.  I left a lot of room for this section.  One thing I do at the beginning of the year as part of the work of Debbie Diller and her book Reading with Meaning is brainstorm with students:

Where Do Readers Read?
What Do Readers Read?
Who Do You Know That's a Reader?
What Do Readers Do?

The answers from students builds a reading community in our classroom- a fundamental component of a successful Reader's Workshop. I then make Anchor Charts of these conversations and hang in the classroom. I've made samples of what these anchor charts might look like inside my Reader's Notebook. 

Also of note in this section is my Anchor Chart on Fluent and Not Fluent Reading.  Working with a class in Memphis we generated the difference. Asking kids to DEFINE fluency was challenging. I found them just saying "fluent reading is fluent".  We had to dig MUCH deeper into that together.  I of course was ready with possible responses. This was the anchor chart I brainstormed in my Reader's Notebook before I made an anchor chart with them.

Independent Reading

So far in this section I am keeping up with my reading goals. One goal is the Book a Day Challenge from Donnalyn Miller. I am keeping track of the books I read as part of this challenge- it is a challenge all right! As I read, I am keeping notes of ideas for use with these books in my Read Alouds Section. Nothing fancy- just small notes as to what I could demonstrate or model as part of an Interactive Read Aloud or even a Shared Reading lesson. Also part of Reading Goals is to encourage students to make and keep their own.  

I also have a page with a printout of my Shelfari bookshelf in here of the books I plan to read. To paraphrase Donnalyn Miller in her book The Book Whisperer, kids need to be guided to keep lists of books they WANT to read in order to keep reading.  Kids see reading as a one book at a time rather than a continuous cycle. 

I just finished a series of three books this summer (I'll let you figure out the series) and I am already on my hunt for a new book. Finish one and begin another. That is how a reader works! If you haven't checked out Shelfari you need to! That may be my NEXT blog post? Maybe I do have more to share than I thought! :) 

Read Alouds

Seems that my Independent Reading and Read Alouds section are working in tandem.  I am also using this section to write down thinking that is SAID during my Read Alouds when we are focussed on a specific comprehension strategy.  Tracking "talk" and "thinking" allows me to go back and make connections in my teaching and students learning. I can't always manage this while also teaching, but I sure do try! I most enjoy sitting in the back of the room while other teachers teach lessons and record student thinking FOR them! 

I can't wait to keep collecting ideas of what else could fill my Teacher's Reader's Notebook. The purpose of it for me to be reflective of my life as a reader so I can better teach reading to my students and be on the lookout for what I can encourage my students to do and think about in their life as a reader.

What are you waiting for? Start yours! You KNOW you want to make your lists... and your READING TIMELINE! 

Happy reading teachers!


  1. Oh my gosh! This is adorable and super cute ideas....can you please move back here? and into my classroom with me? My brain doesn't work this way!

  2. Hi Melissa! I was in your last Writers Workshop Institute in Waco. I am so glad that I finally found your blog. These are great ideas! I always have had a "teachers" reading/planning notebook that houses my ideas and contemplations. Now, I can keeps my thoughts organized so I'm not flipping through the whole notebook when writing lesson plans.

    I love the Reading Timeline. I would love to have my students make one in their reading notebooks. What a fun way to respond to their reading and reflect on it throughout the year!

  3. Also, instead of ModPodge I put a layer of packing tape over the cover of my notebooks. It very durable, and not at all messy.

    1. I have made my interactive notebooks that way (with the packing tape) for a few years and I agree - totally mess free, inexspensive and durable! I have teachers all over coming to copy those notebooks. I use scrapbooking paper, a large label with a title (Reader's Notebook, Writer's Notebook, or Math Notebook)in a cute font for each, and the student's name. They LOVE them. So do I.

  4. Melissa,

    What a great idea! I have kept a Reader's Notebook for a few years now but I have only included the books I have read, what genre I tend to read, and what books I plan on reading. I think I started it after reading the Book Whisperer (did you get your copy signed? How neat!). Although, I will be honest, it is hard for me to consistently add to it.

    I love the idea of tracking my life as a reader and reading teacher! I can definitely see myself keeping meaningful information about read alouds so that I can refer back to it year after year.

    My goal is to tackle my reading timeline before school starts up again! Yikes- that only leaves me with 14 days left!

    The Frizz in First Grade

  5. Hi Melissa,
    Just wondering how you printed your shelfari list so you could put it in your reader's notebook. I get an outline, but no bookshelf and no books!!! Thanks for any help you can give me. :)

  6. Hi Jowayne. I took a screen shot using Jing- another awesome tool you need to know about.


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