The purpose of this blog for teachers and my mission as a kids’ book author who does frequent visits to schools is to MAKE WRITING VISIBLE. So much of writing is invisible, inside our brains. That’s where we get our ideas. That’s where we figure out what will happen in our stories. That’s where our creativity lives. That’s where our characters come to life. But are there ways to make all those invisible happenings more visible? YES! I believe we can and we must. By making writing more visible, we take the mystery out of the process. We offer young authors help and hope for becoming better authors. So please join me in MAKING WRITING VISIBLE!


Moving beyond IDEA notebooks, we should also have students keep OBSERVATION NOTEBOOKS, a place to write rich details of what they observe. How does that flower look, smell, feel? What makes that person's face so distinct? How does that black lab look different than other black labs? By writing observations in a notebook or in a computer file, students will boost their ability to write better descriptions. Have them use the Observation Handout below.

In the video above, which  can be shown directly to students, I tell where I got the idea for these notebooks, I model how to use an Observation Notebook,  and I give examples of  my observations of a painting, blueberry barren, and garden frog.

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Have your students write their own observations and share them with each other. Which details did a student use and why? Were they the best details? Were any details missing that might have added to the observation?

Observation Notebooks-Handout
Jennifer Richard Jacobson website
Brenda Ferguson website

Reading & Writing WORD PICTURES

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We all have ideas. It's important to SAVE THEM before we forget them. But where? In this video above (share with your students) I show my IDEA NOTEBOOK and tell how and where I save my ideas, including the idea file on my computer.

An idea paper in the front of a writing folder or notebook is a perfect place for students to save ideas. It can be simply labeled MY IDEAS with room to jot down new ideas for writing. Or it may be divided into sections, such as POETRY IDEAS, ANIMAL IDEAS, NONFICTION IDEAS, etc. See the included HANDOUT for SAVING IDEAS.

Discuss with students where they currently save their writing ideas. Does that place work? Why or why not? Do they have more than one place to save their ideas? Do they organize their writing ideas in some way? If so, how?

When students save ideas on a list, you can then talk with them about which they'll choose to write about next. Why did they choose the ideas they did? Are some ideas too big or broad, such as "space" or "pets" (and need to be narrowed/focused before writing)? Are other ideas too small or narrow, such as "a tack" or "my dog's nose" (and need to be expanded before writing). Which ideas do students care most about? Which are assigned topics for writing?

Students need to know it's okay (actually desirable) to have LOTS OF IDEAS--so that they have choices for what to write about. Also, the more ideas they generate, then the more ideas they'll get. The brain gets used to generating ideas--it becomes an IDEA MACHINE!


How DO Authors Get Ideas?
Ideas for Getting Ideas

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