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How to Use Leadership Notebooks in Your Primary Classroom

When I first heard about Leadership Notebooks, I was a little skeptical about how well they'd work in my classroom. The whole idea behind data notebooks is that students take ownership of their learning by setting their own goals and tracking their progress. That's a fabulous idea, of course, but it felt a little overwhelming when I thought about trying to implement it with primary students. How do you create and maintain Leadership Notebooks with kids who are still learning how to read and write?


Something I've learned about primary students over the years is that you always, always have to think about students' background knowledge before you implement any kind of routine, system, or lesson. This is a best practice for working with any age group, really, but it holds especially true for the little ones. Something like a Leadership Notebook won't be meaningful unless students understand what a goal is in the first place, or how to keep track of progress over time.  I decided to give student Leadership Notebooks a try in my class, but first spent some time building the background knowledge I knew my little friends would need to be successful.


I started with topics I knew my students would understand. A 5- or 6-year-old might not be able to articulate the reading comprehension skill they are working towards mastering, but they can certainly track things like their reading level, their sight words, and their behavior. As students grow in their academics, they'll also grow in their self-awareness, and they will be able to set more substantial goals.


I can't stress how valuable this process is. When I first introduced Leadership Notebooks in my first grade class, I kept it very simple. I had the kids circle their current reading level and the reading level they hoped to work towards, choose one math practice standard to focus on, and track their sight words and behavior. That's it!



The beauty of Leadership Notebooks is that they are a living resource--students can always add to them. By the end of the year, my students were also writing leadership goals and in-depth, individual goals. They learned how to do this because they started small. The thrill of success that came with meeting small goals gave them confidence to set bigger ones.


We also had fun keeping track of celebrations! A whole section of our Leadership Notebooks was dedicated to storing school awards, positive notes, high test scores, etc.



Helping your students create their own Leadership Notebooks takes some time, patience, and lots of training, but by the end of the year your students will have a time capsule of sorts to capture their year of growth in your class, and they will have learned some valuable goal-setting skills that they will carry with them into their adult lives.



So, what do you think? Will you give Student Leadership Notebooks a try in your primary classroom? Click here to grab a copy of this Leadership Notebook for your students!


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