My students use their reading and writing notebooks daily during our Daily 5/CAFE block. I made these notebooks for them a few weeks into the school year and am SO happy with them! My students love that they each had a unique binder and a place to store all things reading and writing related!
I knew I wanted to make reading and writing binders for my students, but I didn’t want to have to go out and buy brand new binders. Luckily, in our teacher supply room I found a box of white binders that had just been donated to our school! They were not in the best condition, but I made do with what I had! Hhere is what I started off with:
I got this wonderful pad of animal print paper from Michael’s with my 40% off coupon!
Then I cut the paper so that there was a piece to fit in the front slot of the binder and a small, narrow slip for the side.
Next I got on my computer and typed up the labels for their binders! I used a different font for each student. Most of the fonts I use come from Kevin and Amanda! They are so wonderful to share their fonts for free!
The binders are stored in the shelves on the side of the classroom. My students just grab their binder when they need it and put it back when they are done! This ensures that they will always know where their binder is and that they stay nice and neat.
Inside the binder I put tabs and labeled them for different sections. Beth Newingham was my main inspiration for this part! She is such an amazing teacher and is so kind to share her wonderful resources!
The Reading Record section has their reading log. I modified mine a little using Beth Newingham’s example, which you can get here. At the beginning of the year, I also had students tally the different genres they are reading and graph them using the resources Beth provided. It was a great way for them to see what different genres they were reading and to motivate them to try to read from all of the different genres.
The Genres section has a couple sheets with information on the different genres. I got these from a wonderful Learning Headquarters inservice that I went to this year. Beth also has a great list of different genres that gives a good description of each one.
The Non-Fiction genre sheet (and a Fiction genre sheet that is not pictured) is available from the Learning Headquarters website. At this time it is only offered as part of a kit and not available separately. I bought the 4th grade Entire Writing Package for the inservice and it is WONDERFUL! I highly recommend it if you are interested in these and it is a fabulous writing program!
For the Goals & Progress section, students keep their own copy of our CAFE menu, where they highlight the goal that they are working on. After they accomplish that goal, then we meet together and pick out a new goal for them.
The Reading Responses section is the part that my students use most frequently. After reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller I was determined to stop using the traditional reading logs that I was accustomed to. Thankfully, Beth Newingham came to my rescue again and I found this list of different suggestions for letters. Now, instead of having my students fill out a reading log every night, they write me a letter once a week about a book they are currently reading. I ask that they write about at least three of the suggested letter topics from this list. The letters can be informal, and I love how they really start to have their own voice. Then I make a point to read and respond to all of their letters. I do not necessarily get to every student’s letters every week, but I will eventually get to them, even if it means that I read and respond to several of their letters at a time. I meet with them for a one-on-one meeting and they sit next to me and read a book while I am reading their letter. That way if I have any questions or if there is any part of the letter I want to have them discuss in more detail they are right there next to me! After reading the letter I write a short response back to them. They are always so excited to sit down with me and have me read their letters!
Here are some examples of the letters they write to me. I love how creative the first one is! The “interactive” history books where you choose your own path are HUGE in my class right now! So my student decided to make her letter to me “interactive” as well! Isn’t that great?!
The Writing section of the binder contains all of the wonderful writing materials that I received from the Learning Headquarters inservice. I put all of the graphic organizers that we will be using for each writing genre in their binder ahead of time so that after our writing lessons they are ready to go back to their desks and get started right away!
In the back of their binders I have some reference sheets in sheet protectors for my students to use for their writing, like synonyms for commonly used words.
Here is a freebie that I created with synonyms for “said.” You can go to my TPT store to get it!
There are still so many ideas I have for making their reading and writing notebooks even better, but I wanted to share with you my work-in-progress!
Do you use reading and writing notebooks in your class? I highly recommend that you check out Beth Newingham’s Reader’s Notebook site for more inspiration!