Journeying Through a Journal

The excerpt of Aimee Buckner’s book Notebook Know-How on the Stenhouse Publishers website immediately reminded me of a short book I just read in my ENGL 324 class (Teaching and Evaluating Writing). This book is called Breathing In, Breathing Out: keeping a Writer’s Notebook by Ralph Fletcher. In fact, the online excerpt features a quote from Fletcher, commending Buckner’s book. He says, “Reading this book, I felt my old passions rekindled, and remembered what drew me to this field in the first place. That’s the best kind of teacher renewal I can imagine.”

I cannot comment on Aimee Buckner’s book, but if it is similar to Fletcher’s, then it sounds like an outstanding guide for keeping a writer’s notebook. While Buckner’s book seems to focus more on how a teacher can implement the notebook in his or her classroom, Fletcher’s book delves into the inner-workings of a writer’s notebook, strategies to use it, and the benefits it can bring. He even includes plenty of snippets from his own book to accompany his explanations.

I have never kept a writer’s notebook for myself, but have used similar techniques in many of my English classes in the past. They were definitely effective, but Fletcher brought so many unique ways to bring out emotions, details, experiences, stories, and anything else that finds its way into the notebook. Multiple times while reading his book, I told myself to “remember this, or remember that” for my future classroom.

Because I was so pleased with Ralph Fletcher’s book, I am now very intrigued in Aimee Buckner’s book, because it is geared specifically for the late elementary/middle school classroom. I am curious as to what techniques are similar to Fletcher’s and which are different. I can imagine that a notebook would be great for a student to use to transmit their thoughts onto paper, and then translate those thoughts into pieces of literature. I have been in that place where I claim to have “writer’s block,” so I know how frustrating it can be to blankly sit at a desk, waiting for my pencil to move.

...tick, tock, tick, tock...

Fletcher wrote his book as he was telling his story of his writing notebook. In Buckner’s book, it is clear that the point of view is that of an English teacher. I think because of this, it would be more of a guide as to how to specifically apply certain writer’s notebook techniques to the classroom. I am sure they are both great resources for any English teacher, but now I am very interested in reading Buckner’s book!

Each entry holds a different story!

If students use their notebooks often, writing about their encounters with all feelings, experiences, and ideas, I can only imagine the kind of journey those journals would hold!


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