We are wading into our next unit and looking at a variety of essential questions across different time periods and genres in my 11th English Language Arts classes.  To set us up for work we’ll be doing with some selections from Thomas Paine in the next few days, last week we began with our latest Writer’s Notebook:  Entry #9:

After thinking and writing for 12-15 minutes, students worked in “think tanks” to collaborate and share out their answers as a poster using the following questions.  You will note three of these talking points ask students to pull together their thinking for the writer’s notebook prompts, and the fourth nudges them in a different direction.  Both the notebook prompts and instructions for our think tank work were housed in my trusty neon workshop ticket pouches!

Students collaborated on their posters for another 10-15 minutes before we did our group share out with poster presentations.  This way of doing notebook share time was not only different, but it gave students opportunities to interact and crowdsource their ideas in small groups and with the entire class.  Everyone contributed to the conversation in some level, and the ideas they generated in terms of current event topics as well as their word lists for the fourth questions will lead us into a new notebook entry late this upcoming week as well as a new writing assignment using Gretchen Bernabei’s text structures (I will blog that, too!).

If you are looking for a way to either connect your notebook time to content you’ll be reading or writing, or if you are looking for a way to jazz up share time, this “think tank” method with posters created at conversation hotspots (a fancy term for “station”) is very easy to set up and organize and yields significant returns in terms of student talk, thinking, and sharing.  I was most impressed with how well my students worked together, their ideas, and how they articulated their thinking.  I’m including a gallery below of some of their efforts!  How do you mix up your use of notebook time and share time in your Language Arts classes?


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