Creating a Student Reader's Notebook (VIDEO) - The Classroom Nook

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Creating a Student Reader's Notebook (VIDEO)


I'm not sure if you know this about me - but - I love all things organization.

That's not a unique quality for teachers, I know.  We love our organizational bins and folders!

I'm always looking for ways that I can systematize just about everything in my life.  I like processes, systems, and checklists to help me stay on top of my life.  (Just check out this post on how I use google calendar to organize my life, and you'll see what I mean!)

Does my life always run smoothly - of course not (I have a three-year old daughter, after all!).  However, I know that my day will run smoother if I have an order and structure to it.

Our students need structure and systems, too.  Each year I that I taught, I was always tweaking my organization systems, looking for better ways to create better order in my classroom.  One organizational tool that I really loved was my students' reader's notebook.

Before using reader's notebooks, I was swimming in a sea of student reading logs, reading responses, post-it notes, and other reading-related activities from my students.  Once I implemented, the reader's notebook system, I had ONE place to keep all of my students' reading materials.  It was a sanity saver.

The reader's notebook put my organization-lovin' heart at peace - and it just might do the same for you!

In this post you'll learn:

  • what a reader's notebook is
  • what goes in to a reader's notebook (VIDEO TUTORIAL ALERT!)
  • how to use reader's notebooks effectively in your classroom
  • how my students benefited from having a reader's notebook
Let's get started!



WHAT IS A READER'S NOTEBOOK?

A reader's notebook is typically a binder (I liked using a 1-inch binder) that is divided into sections to help students organize all of their reading materials into categories.  This binder is the students' go-to reading resource that they will use almost every day during your reading block.  It can also be used as an assessment tool for you, the teacher to help inform your instruction.

In my students' reader's notebook, there were 4 sections:
(I'll go into more detail about each section later on - This is just an overview)

  • Reading Goals & Progress - This is where students record their monthly reading goals and track their progress.  
  • Reading Records - In this section students keep track of their daily reading, conferences with the teacher, as well as keep track of the types of books they read.
  • Reading Responses - In this section students create a variety of reading responses to their individual books.  Within this section, students use several different reading response templates and prompts.
  • Reading Resources:  In this students store important reading-related hand-outs that they can reference all year.  A table of contents is used to help organize each resource.


WHAT GOES INTO A READER'S NOTEBOOK?

What goes in a reader's notebook will vary from classroom to classroom as you customize it to meet your students' needs, however, there are some components of the notebook that I believe would benefit any classroom.

Here's a sneak peek into what went inside my students' reader's notebook:


USING YOUR STUDENTS' READER'S NOTEBOOK EFFECTIVELY

If possible, you will want to introduce your students to the reader's notebook right at the beginning of the school year.  However, if you're reading this post later in the year, you can definitely introduce it mid-school year with success.  In each case, be sure to be intentional and clear about the purpose of the reader's notebook.

I always found it helpful for students to keep their notebooks on a shelf in my classroom, as opposed to in their desks.  This made it easy for me to quickly access each notebook when I wanted to review reading responses, or check a student's reading progress.

As part of our daily reading routine, students would grab their notebook at the start of reader's workshop.  Having students use their notebook every day helped them to view it as a valuable resource in their learning.



At the start of reader's workshop each day, I would gather my students on the rug near my SMARTBoard.  As they gathered, I had them open up to the goals sections of their notebook and review their reading goal for the month.  They reviewed this daily.  Although this may sound like over-kill, daily review helped to put that goal in the forefront of their mind as they began reader's workshop.  It was a constant reminder of what they were working toward. Quite often I would have them verbalize their reading goal with a partner and explain to their partner how they were working to reach their goal.  Verbalizing the goal helped ingrain the goal in their minds.


I would also have them review the information from any recent conferences we had had (kept in the reading records section).  Again, this helped set purpose and intention for their reading that day. Typically information we discussed in their conference was tied to their reading goal, so reviewing these two things together at the start of the workshop went hand-in-hand.


2-3 times a week I had students make reading responses to what they were reading.  Sometimes I allowed them to choose from a list of responses, other times I would specify the types of responses that they were to complete.  I did this when I wanted them to make responses using a specific skill or strategy that we talked about during a mini-lesson.  These responses were helpful for me to see who was able to apply the skill or strategy correctly in their own reading and who needed more assistance that could be given during their individual reading conferences.

At the end of each reader's workshop, students would once again return to the reading records section of their notebook to record in their reading log.



Periodically, we would revisit their individual reading goals, create new ones, or tweak older ones as needed. They would also chart any progress they had made such as going up a reading level, or reading a new reading genre.

(Get the reading genre wheel shown above for FREE right here!)

Be sure you refer to the reader's notebook and use its resources often so that your students learn to do the same.  For example, draw students attention to different hand-outs that they have in the resource section of their notebook so that they learn to use the resource section for any reading assistance that they need.

The resource section is a great place to put hand-outs outlining any reading strategies that you are teaching, or any model reading responses that they can refer to.


THE BENEFIT OF A READER'S NOTEBOOK

The reader's notebook benefits both students and teachers.  For you, the reader's notebook is your one-stop-shop for everything your students are doing in their reading.  The contents inside the notebook are great for supporting you in parent/teacher conferences or any special education meetings.

For students, they learn organizational skills and are held accountable for their reading.  In my experience, students learn to take their reader's notebook very seriously....if *I* take it very seriously.  It also teaches them responsibility.  After initially teaching students the routines and procedures for using their reader's notebook, it becomes the students' responsibility to remember to complete their reading log, genre wheel, and reading responses each day.

If you're interested in learning more about my reader's workshop (including more information about how the reader's notebook fits into the workshop model), be sure to check out this post to learn how to launch your reader's workshop from start to finish!

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This reader's notebook is part of my full unit on Launching Reader's Workshop.  In it you'll find complete details on how to prepare your room and students for reading success all year.  Get a sneak peek here:





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