When Jen Barney from A Teacher's Life mentioned having her students write words of inspiration in their writer's notebook in this entry titled My Wonderful Room, I had to find out more! Especially since the first day we sat down to write I had a cute little red head boy in tears because there was "no way in the world he could write that much!"-- His words, not mine.
So Jen came over here to Read, Read, Read and told me exactly how to inspire. The very next day I sat down with the students and gave it a shot.
The most important part of this process was the picture book used to make the point. The book I used was The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. The Dot is the perfect story of inspiration! It is a small picture book in which a young girl is sure she is unable to express herself artistically. Her teacher quickly inspires her showing that she CAN be an artist and in fact IS an artist. In turn, Vashti, the young girl, inspires a young boy who also feels he CAN'T draw.
After reading this book, we talked about inspiration and how we can use words to inspire one another. We started a small list of inspirational phrases you could say to someone. Some of the phrases we wrote were "You can do it," "Never give up," "Do your best," and my personal favorite "May the pen be with you." (A boy in my homeroom gave that one and we all thought it was funny) We all went back to our seats, opened to the back of our Writer's Notebooks, and titled a page "Inspiration." Students then let each person at their table write a line of inspiration in their WN. The lines needed to be original, no repeats, and they needed to write their name beside the entry. Later we switched around until everyone in the class had written in each WN.
It was amazing! The kids loved the inspiring thoughts. They shared their favorites aloud and I think they could have gone on writing inspiration for the rest of the year. The next time we got out our Writer's Notebooks, their were no more tears.
Here is a website specifically dedicated to The Dot. I especially like the "Questions and Answers" section which does a little slide show presenting The Dot in the many different languages in which it is translated.