In this moment, there is plenty of time.
A writer’s life is a necessarily slow one. To write, I need ideas, inspiration, and details, the collection of which requires a different kind of attention to life’s small moments, which I tend to rush through.
Early one morning, while everyone else was still asleep, my six-year-old son asked me to share an orange with him. I was up early to write, but I agreed. I peeled the orange quickly and began dispensing slices with an edge of agitation. We both ate. Him savoring. Me rushing. He paused, looked directly into my eyes and said, “Eat it slowly, Mommy.”
His statement woke me up, drew me to attention. I slowed my chewing, tasted the beautiful sweetness of the orange and marveled at the mid-winter miracle of it. I noticed the feel of an orange slice in my hand and the weight of it as it moved from my hand to my son’s. I felt the burst of orange juice as I bit into a segment and the counterpoint of the flesh. I felt my teeth hitting each other, noticing the way I shifted the orange in my mouth and how I differentiated my chewing for the skin of the segment versus the pulp. I smell orangeness in the air and on my hands.
Later, when I got over my writing self and realized that eating an orange slowly with my son was as much writing work as clicking away at my keyboard, all of these details found their way into my writing notebook, which these days is a combination of index cards and sticky notes that are later transferred into a Google document. In the process, I observed the connection between mindfulness and keeping a writing notebook.
Mindfulness is about fully experiencing a moment — being present. Such “living in the moment” is, in many ways, synonymous with living a writerly life, as a writer must notice what others tend to rush past. In the classroom, one of the hardest parts of teaching students to collect ideas, thoughts, details in their writing notebooks is helping them make a habit of noticing, which requires slowing down. Such an effort to be more present can actually take a lifetime of practice, if we attend to it. Noticing the connection between mindfulness and writing notebooks leads me to wonder, however, if we can teach the use of writing notebooks via practice in mindfulness, and vice versa. Can we slow down time in the classroom–even if just for a few mindful moments–and draw student attention to their “now”? Perhaps, the introduction of writing notebooks should begin with eating an orange.
This week we look at the authentic uses of notebooks in workshops. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Jan Burkins collaborates with Kim Yaris at Burkins and Yaris — Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy, where their blog and their instructional resources have drawn a national audience. Their new book Reading Wellness is available through Stenhouse Publishers.
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When premade reading notebooks no longer fit into her reading budget, Katherine Sokolowski comes up with a unique design starting with generic notebooks, and in the process figures out what’s most important to include in them:
Here are some tips from the pros on starting your own writing notebook:
Kate Messner recommends bullet journals as a great tool for new notebook writing:
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Shari Frost explains how teachers get creative with poetry notebooks in One Tool, Many Uses:
Melanie Swider explains how she develops notebook pages for minilessons and conferring in Using a Sketchbook as a Tool to Teach Grammar:
In this week’s video, Ruth Ayres confers with Izzy to help her create an organizer in her writing notebook:
Melanie Meehan finds a Notebooks Tour is a terrific minilesson for helping students expand the ways they use notebooks:
In an encore video, Aimee Buckner confers with Sarah about sketching in her notebook:
That’s all for this week!