With two move overseas in the last two years, we have been slowly catching up on subjects. Tiny is still straddling middle and high school, but his writing has been at high school level. Because we had to set up his high school writer’s notebook after our move back, I am sharing it with you today along with some free resources.
I have used many writing courses with my boys through the years and I have genuinely enjoyed each one. One that we really enjoyed which was created by homeschool moms because it worked and made teaching writing easy is WriteShop.
In another post, I will be sharing some things we liked and didn’t like so much about writing programs because today I want to stick to showing you an easy set up for a writer’s notebook.
Really, this set up would work for a middle school kid too.
I. Outside Cover
Notebooks can be made out of anything, like a file folder, composition book or even a binder.
Your teen can design his own cover and coloring is cool now even for adults and young teens, which is why at the bottom, I listed some free and cool looking coloring pages.
I ask Tiny if he wanted to color or design his cover and he rolled his eyes. I took that as a no.
Instead, he found this handsome and dare I say elegant, houndstooth-ish looking Divoga black and gold notebook in late December when we arrived back in the states.
I believe it may have been seasonal, but you can look at this picture below to see the other ones they have.
They are pretty impressive looking if you have a teen boy or girl that wants a more professional look.
And it helps if the binders are on sale because a teen can change their mind often when it comes to expressing their individuality in their writer’s notebook.
Next, the pen zipper pouch is important because I make sure Tiny has a variety of pen colors to work with.
When they boys were younger, we used the skip line method when writing so that there is a line to write on under the first draft and to rewrite the next draft or to change a word.
It keeps a child from erasing, which should be completely ruled out in writing, but kids have a hard time doing that.
If they learn to eradicate erasing when they are young, then as they grow to a teen writer, it helps them to learn the writing process faster because writing is the culmination of many mark ups and deletions.
As the boys get older, they get the choice of whether they want to keep skipping lines and/or use different color pens to identify the different stages of writing like initial draft, revise and final draft.
Tiny likes black ink for writing and red ink for correcting. If it is needs to be completely rewritten as a draft, he can choose another color, like blue or green. I think Tiny keeps the pencil in his zipper as a good measure.
Tiny and I both tend to like the Zebra z grip, medium point.
And Z grip has the other colors too.
He also likes keeping highlighters in his zip pouch because when he has finished his thoughts, he can return later and substitute a more colorful adjective or word. At the time, I encourage him to keep his ideas flowing. He will highlight real quick and keep moving.
He loves the Yoobi highlighters like I do and grabbed mine, but we have been eyeing these mini yoobi highlighters.
A few paper clips for keeping his pages together and some post it notes and he is set up for referencing his pages the way he wants to.
How to Help Your Teen to Find the Best Words for His Ideas
Next, I keep a heavy duty top loading protector page with fresh paper in it. It is by Wilson Jones.
This just keeps fresh paper in the front and he can easily see when he needs to fill it up again.
Then, we set our tabs up in a variety of ways.
So we set up some of the tabs the same way, but not all of them. Remember, your teen still needs your help in organizing their notebooks.
III. But It’s the Inside That Matters.
We have five sections and they are:
This is where Tiny keeps his outlines and drafts. He likes keeping his final compositions at the very end of the notebook. He also likes to keep the model he is working on here under this tab and not under a separate tab.
Two| Structural Models.
At this point, I want you know how important the order of the tabs are because it helps your teen to go through the writing process in a logical order.
For example, some teens like to correct spacing and grammar before they are finished writing their content. This is not only exhausting to do, but can be both stressful and a waste of time when their focus needs to be first on content.
This is an important part in helping a teen organize his thoughts. Your teen needs to understand that before he focuses on the mechanics of writing, he has to clarify his thoughts.
Put models in this section which you want your teen follow.
Three| Style Charts.
Put words or lists here that help improve his technique of writing. We like list of adjectives and adverbs.
Again, these three tabs helps a teen writer to not forget the very basics of writing like having a beginning, middle and an end, that writing using noun and verb is solid writing and wordiness is a waste of good writing.
Four| Banned Words.
Though this section for me could be part of Writing Helps, it is a section that Tiny needs to focus on this year. Keeping it a separate tab reminds him to narrow down his word choice carefully. Banned words, however, could easily fit into the Writing Helps too.
Five| Writing Helps
Tiny needed help with the details of his writing so we named this part Writing Helps. Placing this at the end of the notebook he is reminded that punctuation and grammar helps can now be focused on after he has made his choice of ideas.
That is the strength of making each writer’s notebook to fit their unique and immediate needs.
Because we have had many interruptions with our writing, I need to be sure that he has some of the basics like parts of speech that he learned in his younger years.
In addition, he needs to expand the way he connects thoughts so I have printed off a transitional words list.
Instead of constantly reminding him about them, it is his job now to check his work for that.
These helpful sheets that are free and that I list at the bottom are nifty for shoring up any weakness of a teen writer.
Free Homeschool Writing Helps
This is just an awesome site. I have referred to it often throughout the years. It has a number of free printables and helps for kids ages 3 to 13, but I think some of them can be used as a reference for older kids too.
Then I love this site because we have used some of her printables and they are especially for teen writers. I like the story brainstorming questions and it helped my boys to hone some of their thoughts.
If you want to make your own notebook, your child can color a picture for the front of their notebook and glue it on a composition notebook or print the character sketch template.
Check out the wonderful graphic organizers and journal topics.
Then this site has been around for years and I have used it at various stages of my boys’ writing to help them visualize and organize their thoughts. It works fine for an older student too and especially if they are a visual learning.
The Worksheet Place, under the category Writing Worksheets, also has very helpful sheets. Under persuasive worksheets is where I found the transitional words worksheet, which I printed off for Tiny.
As I mentioned before, each one of my sons had things they struggled with or needed help remembering. I want their notebooks to be a place that not only helps creative thought processes flow, but to be especially helpful.
A writer’s notebook should reflect each writer’s personality and making the notebook feel personal helps.
The grading process stays with me, but as Mr. Senior 2013 did more writing he wanted to see how the paper was graded and so I added helpful rubrics for writing to his notebook. You can grab them here.
Right now, Tiny is not interested in that as he is beginning high school and he has different goals for this year.
Does this give you a good starting point for your homeschooled teen writers’ notebook?
You’ll love these other helpful tips:
- How to Teach Cursive and Composition With A Fresh Perspective
- 3 Beginner’s Tips: Homeschool High School Literature
- 3 Ways to Choose the BEST Writing Curriculum (for a Growing Homeschool Family)
What else do you like to include?
Hugs and love ya,