After studying what many excellent teachers are doing in their classrooms through the examples they have shared on their blogs and websites, I decided I could implement a component of the reading workshop, the reader's notebook. Reader's notebooks give students a place to make their thinking visible. Discussions and mini-lessons could allow me to model the type of deep thinking I wanted my students to explore and the writing space would not only allow them to document those thought processes, but would give students an artifact of that growth that they could then use for further reflection.
My next idea was to consider how to take advantage of technology in creating the notebooks. I wanted to make them shareable between me and my students and possibly between students as well. Google Docs seemed like a great way to go. My school just became a Google Apps for Education school this fall, and it is a platform that my students have adapted to quickly.
After doing some searching on the web and in the Google Templates gallery for reader's notebooks, I realized that I would have to create what I needed. I used resources from several teachers like Laura Cander and Beth Newingham for the format and content, such as writing prompts and strategy lists.
The notebook is divided into two sections, My Toolkit and My Writing. The toolkit section contains guidelines, strategies, writing prompts, and a genre list. The writing section is where students would keep their responses to journal prompts, a list of books they have read and their levels (Easy, Just Right, or Challenging), a list of books they are keeping "on deck," and interesting vocabulary words they have run across.
Secondly, I'd love to have a tabbed interface that would allow students to click on a link to jump to a page dedicated to each section. This would eliminate the scrolling and the need to have bookmarks for multiple sections. Since I would like to stay with Google Apps, I think I will next explore if this project could be adapted to a Google Site instead of a Doc. Sites are still shareable and comments can be made on pages as well.
Overall, reader's notebooks are a great way to encourage deeper and reflective thinking in students about what they are reading. By translating the notebooks to a digital format, so many new possibilities are opened. The notebooks can be archived year to year and become part of a digital portfolio, they can be reviewed by students at the end of the year and provide information they can use in a culminating reading or writing project, they can be shared with parents at parent-teacher conferences or even student-led conferences. I think digital reader's notebooks are an idea worth considering.
Some great resources I have found related to reader's notebooks and reading workshop are below:
Scholastic's Top Teaching - The Reader's Notebook
Strategies for Using the Reader's Notebook
Reading Workshop Strategies
Reader's Notebook Prompts
Reading Response Journals: Writing After Reading Is Revealing
Units of Study for Reading: Structures of Reading Workshops - YouTube
Reading Response Journals Made Easy - www.lauracandler.com - YouTube
Notebook Connections: Strategies for the Reader's Notebook
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers