Monday, August 5, 2013

30th Day: It's Never Too Early to Shop!

Every September, we have a grand time choosing our Writer's Notebook for the year. I know many teachers are able to have their students decorate notebooks with delight and success, but that has never quite worked for me. Invariably, the students balk at the guidance about "appropriate" choices, they are disappointed about not having the same embellishments, or the "pieces" start falling off within weeks of the process. (I will never forget the year that a student came to school with his notebook covered with pictures of a less-than-fully-clothed Britney Spears--and this was after an exhaustive discussion about good decision making!)

Don't get me wrong: I WISH I could be the teacher who could facilitate a wonderful activity during which her students decorated their notebooks and personalize them into items of beauty. I just don't seem to have the knack.
Instead, I allow for some "personalization" through providing a choice of differently designed notebooks. Even before the school year is over, I have l already started my yearly search for new and unique composition books. I have found them in drugstores on vacation, in little town hardware stores, in big city toy stores, in office supple stores and in dollar stores--and I have spent as little as twenty-five cents to add another choice to my cache.

I won't bore you with my multitudinous options, but I will show you the ones I discovered just this weekend... And they were all on sale!

Arranged in no particular order (by theme, style or hue)... here are my most recent acquisitions...

As a teacher, I have learned to accept my "limitations" and to work around them when I can. Since I can't figure out a way to make "notebook decoration" happen successfully, I have settled on the next best thing that still gives my students some options.

So, I guess this post is less about the notebooks (although I do love them!) and more about working with what you have and what you can do.

How do you make things work when you know you can't do something the way you would most like to do it? I'd love to hear about how you meet the challenge of putting your own spin on a routine to make it your own.


  1. I laughed out loud about the Britney Spears part...haha!

  2. Hi kim! I think this is a pretty good way to give kids a choice without losing your sanity as a teacher... but I have a quick question. How do you deal with "who gets to choose first?" and what happens when a little cherub doesn't get the design he/she wanted? Just wanting to know how you make this work! :)

    Thanks for the tips,

    Fliss (

  3. Totally related! There is no way I can look at pictures of boy band members pathetically baring their skinny chests, or bloody video warriors killing some creature. You found prettier ones, mine will just to chose between green, blue, red, and black. And of course they are always encouraged to bring their own...innocent and pretty comp book:).

  4. I had the same problem a few years ago when my thirteen year old male student put scantily clad cheerleader pictures on his binder. He told me that they were "athletes who should be appreciated just like the football players". LOL!

    This year I got cheap wrapping paper and printed out the words READ and WRITE in different fonts. That's all I think I'm letting the kids do. Next year I think I'll try your idea. It sounds a little easier!

  5. Good to know that I need to keep an eye out for appropriate notebook designs. Now I KNOW we will do the decorating in class. :)

  6. Thank you for sharing this post, it made me feel better about all my limitations - how I wish I could do things and how I actually have to do them :)

  7. Thank you for sharing this post, it made me feel better about all my limitations - how I wish I could do things and how I actually have to do them :)


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