Interactive Notebooks: Writing

Interactive Notebooks for High School English has been a labor of love. There is so much information to share, and sometimes I get so wrapped up in actually using our interactive notebook that I forget to share the values and challenges with you. Sorry.

I know you've been waiting a while, so here it is: the writing section of our interactive notebook. This is a dark place that I once dared not to tread. :( I'm going to be honest; teaching writing isn't my strong point. I spend a lot of time researching and trying new ways of teaching writing. So, be forewarned that this section isn't as pretty or manicured or "perfected" (not that any of the other sections are); this section is a messy work in progress.

This section is where we keep a lot of our writing related content. Notice I said a lot. We previously kept everything here, but since we switched to reading/writing workshop things have changed. More on that in another post.

We use the writing section to brainstorm, keep up with our writing notes, and practice writing strategies on a small scale.

This is our brainstorming page. You might have a variety of pages that look like this in your notebook. It's just a great way to help students keep up with their brainstorming. If it's in their notebook, they can always refer back to it later on. If you're wondering, this is not an extended brainstorm. This was just a starting place for my students. The 10/10 is her participation grade. I mark directly on their pages so that they receive instant feedback.

The writing sections provides a place that we can keep our prompts and our breakdown of challenging prompts.

We also have foldables and handouts that deal with writing leads and formatting introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs. This is a great place to keep these. Any time my students need a quick reminder, I just say, "turn to page 181" (or whatever the page is).

This is our introductory paragraph foldable. Each of those pieces of the inverted pyramid flip open and have notes underneath.

This PEEL handout from Tracee Orman on tpt. There are also other sellers who have something similar.

This shows their body paragraph application assignment. They planned out their body paragraphs using a version of this method. 

Many of these handouts are inserted as flaps so that students can practice the skill underneath the handout. Some of the handouts deliver information and act as a practice piece. This allows students to practice a skill on a small scale before they apply it to their entire writing piece. For example, we taped in multiple handouts about leads as we were discussing their importance and purpose. Underneath those handouts, my students wrote leads for a variety of topics that they were given.

Pssst. Just so you know, it hurts me a little to post this picture of our practice leads. My lesson was a flop. I retaught this later using different handouts and methods, and they rocked it. Check out these leads!

Much better. Just sayin'. We all have lessons that flop. Assess, rethink, reteach, and let students reap the rewards!

We also keep a variety of writing topics listed here. One of the easiest ways to get students to free write is to have them keep a list of things that they love. Then, when you want them to write, they just pick one of the things from the list and start writing. You can also have them keep a writing territories list which is a list of things that they feel that they know a lot about or would consider their self an expert on. This picture shows one of my student's "50 things I love" brainstorming sheet. 

You may, or may not, have noticed that I keep saying "we did this" and "we did that." It's because WE do everything together. If you refer back to my tips and tricks post, you'll notice that I
discussed the importance of having your notebook act as a mentor or model notebook. So, when I ask my students to put something in their notebook, I put something in my notebook. When I ask them to practice a skill, I practice it with them. This allows them to see my thought process and see what my expectations are.

Just remember, everyone's writing journey is different. Teaching writing is super easy for some teachers and terribly challenging for others (like me). I'm not affiliated with any of these sellers, but I want to share some resources with you that have helped me in my quest to improve my teaching practices for writing. These are all resources that I have used in my classroom.

1. Stacey Lloyd: This lovely lady is my go-to for so many things. Writing is one of those things. She has a variety of writing activities in her store as well many instructional pieces that guide students through the writing process. My suggestions when it comes to specific products are Tools for Improving Writing Bundle , 15 Writing Lessons Bundle, and the Writing Bundle. These may seem a little pricey, but they're TOTALLY WORTH IT. However, if you're not sure about an investment like this, check out her free lessons and remember that each of the lessons in these bundle are listed as separate lessons if you're looking for something specific.

2. Secondary Sara: This super talented teacher has a bundle for teaching the different parts of an essay. I love the way that she compares essay writing to a meal. My kids totally identify with anything that deals with food. As with others, this bundle is also offered as individual lessons. Even better, she offers the conclusion lesson as a freebie so that you can try it out!

3. Room 213 TPT: The queen of learning stations doesn't disappoint when it comes to writing. Holy wowzers. I L. O. V. E. her revisions stations. I've never seen my students make sure detailed revisions. The key to these stations is that these they break down revising and editing with easy to follow and detailed directions that kids and teachers alike can appreciate. She also offers an essay planning station, a narrative writing station, a descriptive writing stations, and a writer's workshop station. Y'all these are gold, and most of them are $5 - $8! The content you'll get and the gains you'll see with your students are worth the price.

4. Tracee Orman: If you're teaching MLA formatting, she's got the resources for it. Her 8th edition MLA resource has citations, instructions, examples, and practice. The flip book contains a wealth of information in an easy to read format. The examples and practice activities are a great way to build student confidence as they tackle this concept that is a tough one for many.

5. This isn't a seller, but it's definitely a great resource. We teach writing with the 6 + 1 writing traits model. This book, Traits of Writing,  is fantastic at describing each component, giving, examples, and offering lessons to help students master each part of the writing process.

6. Also, don't discount the value of mentor sentences! These are a great way to improve student writing. Your students will see big improvements to their writing. I use my own mentor sentences that I locate, but there are a variety of resources for this on teacherspayteachers and the web. You'll just have to see which resource best fits the needs of your students.

Still have questions? Let me hear 'em! Suggestions? Let me hear 'em. I've got so far to go when it comes to teaching writing. I'll take any help I can get, and I'll offer any that I can. I hope this post contains a wealth of information and resource options that will build your confidence and your students' knowledge when it comes to writing.


  1. How many pages did you allocate for this section?

    1. I'm honestly not sure off the top of my head. I would say 15 or so pages. My kids don't do their actual writing here. We just keep writing content lessons here: writing leads, word choice, paragraphing, organizing ideas, and etc. It is really up to you, as it depends of how much direct writing instruction you do.

  2. The actual writing is done on separate paper then? I was wondering. Thanks!

    1. Yes, we do our writing on loose leaf paper and keep it in a two pocket folder. :)