How to Create a Summer Writing Notebook #flaneur

A conversation with Angela Stockman in episode 99 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Today Angela Stockman @AngelaStockman challenges teachers and students to create a summer writing notebook with the #flaneur challenge. This is going to be fun! Let’s do this.

create a summer writing notebook

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Want to hear another episode on what to do this summer? Listen to Angela Watson talk about 5 Ways to Maximize Your Summer.

Full Bio As Submitted

Angela StockmanAngela Stockman

Angela Stockman facilitates professional learning experiences for K-12 literacy teachers within and beyond her home state of New York. The author of Make Writing, Angela is passionate about creating writing workshop experiences that are relevant to today’s learners and accessible to even the most resistant writers.

Transcript for this episode

 [Recording starts 0:00:00]

Stay tuned to the end of the show to learn how to figure out if my friend Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Workweek Club is right for you.

Episode 99. Creating a summer writing notebook. And this is also the Flaneur Challenge. Take a listen.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

VICKI:          So many of us teachers here in North America, we’re getting ready for our summer. Some of us, it’s already started. Well, today, we have Angela Stockman with us. She’s the author of Make Writing: 5 Teaching Strategies That Turn Writers Workshop Into a Maker Space., Angela, you have a challenge for us as teachers to create a summer writing notebook or summer writing journal. Tell us about your challenge for us.

ANGELA:     That’s right. I get to work every day with teachers on the ground, face to face, and a lot of them are starting to put writing workshop in place. Some of them have been doing it for a very long time. Others are working in makerspaces or studios or art classrooms. And everyone that I’m talking to at this time of year, really, they’re already projecting into the fall. One of the greatest challenges that they’re facing is they’re really eager to write and make and create beside their students, but they either lack confidence or they haven’t really had the time to kind of produce their own stuff while they’re trying to teach. So summer is a great time for that. And we’re starting small by doing something called a flaneur challenge. A flaneur is someone who wanders about, and they kind of walk aimlessly with the intention to observe things that they didn’t expect to. So it’s kind of an unscheduled wandering. And I’m challenging teachers to do that every day, wherever they’re inspired to.


                    And to kind of take a camera or a notebook with them and capture something unexpected that they saw just once a day; something small, kind of like a photo 365, if people are familiar with that challenge, which has gone on for a long time now. It’s very much like that; only the intention is to gather content for our notebooks that we can write about.

VICKI:          So we’re just going to stroll and we’re going to observe, maybe take photos and write. Is that what you want us to do?

ANGELA:     Yeah. Absolutely; in small bits. And I think that that’s what can make it manageable for people. Just to capture one small thing a day that they didn’t expect to see, that brought them joy or comfort or made them laugh, or just was really interesting or compelling to them; some small moment of their day that they can write about in a small way. And I think that if they can commit to doing this every day, and maybe even sharing it on Instagram with the rest of us who might be doing this, by the end of the summer, they’ll have a lot of content that they can build off of and write about in workshop next year.

VICKI:          So what’s our hashtag?

ANGELA:     It’s #flaneur,  F-L-A-N-E-U-R. And I’m going to start doing this today on Instagram, I invite teachers to join us at any time.

VICKI:          And what are we going to accomplish with this? I even hate to ask that, because I’m such a country girl and I like to lay on the grass and look at clouds. And to me, that is well-spent time. But there are those who say, okay, what am I getting out of it, so we might as well ask it.

ANGELA:     Like you said; the greatest accomplish is to maybe disconnect a little bit and get out in nature. Because I find that so many good ideas come from nature, or even from just spending time reflecting a little bit and kind of wandering. But if you post on Instagram every day or you make an entry in your journal or notebook every day, by the end of the summer, you should have a good 60 entries or so that you can pull from and turn into bigger writing pieces.


                    And some people might actually start teasing some of those pieces out over the summer as well.

VICKI:          As we adopt this, do you think this is going to make us better teachers have a writing workshop in the fall and how?

ANGELA:     One of the things that can help all writers is the notion of getting disciplined. But discipline sounds like such a rigid and cold and uninspiring term. If we can get disciplined about doing something that is really rewarding and fun and relaxing, and a little bit unpredictable in terms of what we’re going to see, but just make a commitment to doing that every day, I think that you win half the battle when it comes to writing. And this is something that we want to coach our students to do, too. Just take a little bit of time every day to do some kind of writing, and to not be necessarily perfectionists but to have ideas and to keep them in a container, like a notebook or Instagram account, where we can come back to them and turn them into bigger and better pieces as time goes by. I think that’s a really important disposition to train in our kids, is this notion of becoming disciplined. But that discipline doesn’t have to be punishing; discipline is really something that isn’t hard to do when we’re excited about what we’re showing up for every day.

VICKI:          And what you’re saying is so true with what I know about writing in my own life. There’s the great book; Do the Work. it’s basically, show up every day and write, whether you feel like it or not. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first, you know. But having that discipline of saying, okay, now, it’s my writing time; I’m going to sit down and write; I’m going to sit down and create, it’s incredible the things that come out of your brain when you really don’t expect it, when you just do it.

ANGELA:     Yeah, exactly. And I think that summer is a perfect time to kind of step away from the lesson and unit structure of school and the bells and the time frames that we work with, and the constraints that, for sure, can produce great writing. But I think that if we can help kids connect to it on their own time, and especially teachers, it makes our lives a little bit richer.


                    It helps us to redefine what it looks like to be a disciplined writer.

VICKI:          Talking to teachers, Angela; issue our fantastic flaneur challenge. What is it that you’re challenging us to do? And get us excited.

ANGELA:     So I’m super excited to challenge all teachers and to challenge students as well to spend some time wandering about an uninspired place this summer; every single day, commit to it. It doesn’t matter what time you go; it doesn’t matter even where you go, but wander about. Don’t necessarily schedule this work, and don’t necessarily define the path before you start taking it, but be a flaneur. Wander about, pay attention to your surroundings, and try to document at least one interesting thing that you saw on that walk by taking a picture of it or by writing about it in a notebook, or both. If you have an Instagram account, you can follow me there; I’m Angela Stockman. And there’s also a hashtag, which is #flaneur, F-L-A-N-E-U-R. If you tag your photos with that particular hashtag, all of us will be able to see them and like them, and support and celebrate the efforts that we’re making to wander about and use our noticings to do great writing this summer.

VICKI:          Teachers, I will challenge you. Even if you’re a math teacher, even if you’re a history teacher, this does not get you off the hook. If you’re a math teacher, you could be observing and looking for really cool ways to bring math into everyday life that you observe, and history. There’s so many things that you can document about, every single type of teaching. Even if you’re not going to sit down, like I do, and write a poem, you can write and you can create. And it just kind of turns you loose. I think that our fantastic flaneur challenge is awesome. I’m going to participate. And, Angela, thank you for bringing this challenge to us.

ANGELA:     Thank you. I’m so excited to be here. And I’m really grateful for the invitation, Vicki.


VICKI:          This month, Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Workweek Club will open up for membership. And she only has two open [indiscernible 0:08:08] a year. Now, I’ve been participating for a year and I have learned so much about classroom efficiency. But, it’s not for everybody. So I’ve got a link for you to a quick quiz that will help you understand if the 40 Hour Workweek Club would be right for you. Just go to and take the quiz to see if the 40 Hour Workweek is right for you.


Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at Never stop learning.


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The post How to Create a Summer Writing Notebook #flaneur appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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