Natalie’s response to J.’s A girl and her log:
After reading J.’s post, my reaction was awe laced with panic.
J.’s idea is brilliant, I thought. Why haven’t I been doing this? Is it too late to start? Where did she find crappy composition books for only 59 cents?!
Like J., I do think about what I read. I reread lovely lines again and again, wishing they were mine. I make a mental note of the passages I skim through to get to the good stuff. But the best notes I have come from observing the 9 and 10-year-olds I teach.
While my students read independently, I watch them. As I read stories aloud to them, I pay attention. I note what makes their mouths fall open, what makes their eyes grow wide, what makes them belly-laugh. I also note when they start looking at the clock, inspecting the ceiling, or launching bits of paper.
Up until now, all of my notes have been mental ones, tenuous at best. But J.’s post has given me an idea.
When I go into school tomorrow, I’m going to ask my students for a favor. I’m going to give them an authentic reason for writing–not for a grade, not to learn a new skill, but to help out their teacher and their teacher’s future readers. I’ll show them a blank composition book labeled “Advice for an Author.” I’ll tell them that I’m curious to know which lines they love, what makes them turn the page, what keeps them up past bedtime, what makes them read a book again and again. I’ll tell them I’d like to know which parts they skim through, and why they return a library book before they reach The End.
(Don’t tell my students, but I’m hoping this will also help them learn to better analyze literature and apply what they learn to their own writing. I know. I can’t help it. I’m a teacher.)
Now off to find some 59-cent composition books…