Writer’s Notebook in the (Sort of) Digital Age

Composition Book Monsters

My Notebook from Last Year

How many of you are working in a school in transition—somewhere in between the traditional computer lab and full 1:1 adoption? I read a lot online about how to teach in 1:1 classrooms, but what if you aren’t there yet?

So, given my current reality that students will be working on paper most days, I am sticking with the old-fashioned paper composition notebook for first draft writing and minilessons.

Click here for the Google Doc with instructions for students: Reading-Writing Notebook

Reading-Writing Notebook

R/W Notebook Directions

  1. Use a 100-page composition-style notebook. Note: You will use one for first semester and one for second semester.
  2. Skip the first 5 pages. Number the rest on the bottom right corners.
  3. Each new entry starts on the next right-facing page.
  4. In general, write on the right and tape handouts on the left.
  5. Date the upper right corner of each new entry.
  6. The Daily Pages Section begins on page 51. To save space, write on both sides. Skip a single line between each entry.  Ongoing homework is 3 – 5 pages of writing every week (Due Wednesdays).

R/W Notebook Organization


  • Inside front cover: R/W Notebook Directions
  • Fly Page (leave blank)
  • Title Page (decorate to show your personality, interests, and talents)
  • Table of Contents (3 pages)


  • Writer’s Workshop Expectations and Rules pp. 1- 2
  • What Should I Write? pp. 3 – 7
  • Book Love Expectations /  How to Book Talk /  Someday Books pp. 8 – 10
  • Literature and Writing Terms pp. 11-12
  • Personal Spelling Survival and Personal Spelling Demons pp. 13-14
  • Personal Editing Checklist p. 15 – 16
  • Minilessons on Craft and Conventions pp. 17 – 50
  • Daily Pages and First Draft Writing – Drafts, Reflections, Journals, Freewrites, Quickwrites, Experiments pp. 51 to end

Ideas for R/W Notebook Daily Pages

(Due Weekly)

  1. Your Writing Territories. Remember to keep adding to this list as ideas come to you. Writing territories include any genre / form of writing. Write from your heart.
  2. OpTIC Writer’s Notebook: Op = opinion or argument; T = teach / talk to a parent / guardian; I = informational / explanatory writing; C = creative. See the OpTIC handout for specific ideas.

*Note: Many students use daily pages to work on longer pieces. Students are welcome to do that. Just make sure to write at least 3 pages (250 – 300 words).

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