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Lessons for the Writer's Notebook

Writer's notebooks can be powerful assets for any writing teacher. They provide a high-comfort, "hot-house" environment where students' writing can flourish. Lessons for the Writer's Notebook by Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi provides a series of proven lessons that will help you introduce the writer's notebook into your classroom, sustain it in your curriculum, and eventually guide students to transition from the privacy of the notebook to public, finished pieces of writing. Whether used as a stand-alone resource in your literacy block, or as an alternative launch cycle in your Teaching the Qualities of Writing (TQW) curriculum, Lessons for the Writer's Notebook will inspire your students to pick up a pen and imagine the writing possibilities.

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  • Components

    Lessons for the Writer's Notebook contains 3 key components.

    1. Lesson Cards
      • 20 ready-to-use lessons
      • exemplar text
      • graphic organizers
    2. Author Chats CD
      • quick audio clips from Ralph explain how he uses his writer's notebook
    3. Teachers Guide
      • Notebook's philosophy
      • planning charts
      • teaching tips
  • Lesson Cards

    A ready-to-use lesson is provided on each of the Notebook's 20 lesson cards. The front of each card provides a straightforward lesson in a concise three-part structure. The back of each card provides exemplar texts or other lesson-specific teaching resources.

    • 20 ready-to-use lessons
    • exemplar text
    • graphic organizers
  • Author Chats CD
    Some lessons include a two- or three-minute audio clip in which Ralph Fletcher talks with students about how the writer's notebook helps him as an author. These clips are presented on the Author Chats Audio CD. The clips are meant to deepen student's understanding of the strategy being put forth in a particular lesson. For example, in the lesson title "Starting a Seed Idea," Ralph shares how he incubated a seed idea in his writer's notebook for his book Twilight Comes Twice. To make lesson preparation even easier the transcripts are provided in their entirety in the Teacher's Guide.

  • Teacher's Guide

    The concise Teacher's Guide introduces the philosophy of the writer's notebooks; offers a plan for organizing the lessons; and provides an array of curricular support including assessment and record-keeping forms, inspirational quotes, and tips on integrating this resource into your TQW curriculum.

    • Notebook's philosophy
    • planning charts
    • teaching tips

More Information...


The 20 lessons (N1–N20) in Lessons for the Writer's Notebook are organized around three distinct stages of notebook use: Introducing, Sustaining, and Transitioning.

The first four lessons introduce students to the idea of keeping a writer's notebook. This week-long introduction prepares students for using a notebook and viewing the world through a writer's lens. Unlike the other lessons, these lessons focus on discussion rather than student writing.

N1 Introducing the Notebook
N2 Introducing the Notebook (alternate version)
N3 Preparing for the Notebook Launch
N4 Launching the Notebook

Each sustaining lesson introduces students to a new way of using their notebook. While there is no set way for using a writer's notebook, these thirteen lessons present a range of strategies that will enhance a student's writing repertoire.

N5 Collecting Mind Pictures and Sensory Observations
N6 Wondering About the World
N7 Writing from the Heart
N8 Capturing Bits of Conversation
N9 Experimenting with Goof-Around Writing
N10 Reacting to the World
N11 Starting a Seed Idea
N12 Gathering Artifacts
N13 Capturing Memories
N14 Reflecting on Yourself as a Writer
N15 Saving Writing You Admire
N16 Writing off of a Text
N17 Trying Some "Stretch Writing"

Transitioning lessons help move students out of the notebook toward more focused pieces of writing. These lessons help you talk to students about how to reread, think about genre, and plan for a writing project that may have its earliest version nestled in the pages of the notebook

N18 Thinking About Genre
N19 Making a Plan
N20 Crafting a Finished Piece

Sample Lessons

Review a sample lesson and audio clip from Lessons from the Writers Notebook.

Lesson N11: Starting a Seed Idea

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