Writer's Notebooks: What to Write About


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Gail meets for the second time with this fourth-grade class to continue to set up their writer’s notebooks. She models how she creates a list from things she is interested in and knows a lot about. She discusses narrowly focused ideas. After the discussion the students go back to their seats to generate lists of their own.

Listen and Watch

  • Gail shares four ideas of specific things she could write about. What might you model for your students?
  • Students are asked to turn, listen, and share what they could write about. How do you know this was successful for the students and helped inform Gail’s teaching?


  • This is a lesson we revisit throughout the year. Why does that benefit students?
  • The most important thing students may need to ask even before choosing a topic is Why write at all? Answering this question gives writers a purpose for writing. Some reasons to write are to remember something that happened, to share ideas, to make someone laugh, and to make meaning out of something. So maybe when we ask students what topics they want to write about, we should also ask them why they are writing about that topic.
  • What one or two things help your students find topics they want to write about?

Essential Element

  • Launch 5.1 Teach Foundation Lessons, Work on Writing

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