Journaling has become a staple in most elementary and middle school classrooms, giving students additional writing practice that will help them sharpen their skills. Many teachers have implemented journaling as a daily activity, providing a writing prompt each morning and using journal writing as a way to ease students into their day and prepare them for learning. Teachers also credit student journaling for building confidence in young writers.
Whether you’re new to student journaling, or you’re looking for new ways to use journals in your classroom, consider these ideas.
Using Student Journaling for Reflection
Personal journals provide students with a safe space to express their feelings, opinions, and emotions about any topic that interests them. Personal journaling can be good for physical, mental, emotional, and social health. Journal writing can provide a healthy coping skill for students and increase mindfulness, focus, and gratitude.
Dialogue journals create a one-on-one conversation between students and their teacher. Using dialogue journals, you can respond to a student’s writing and pose questions or share your thoughts to keep a dialogue going. Not only can you learn about your students, students can also express questions, concerns, or opinions they wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing in front of the classroom.
It’s your choice if you want to grade your students’ journals or not. You can also choose to read all journal entries or ask your students to choose the entries they’d like you to review.
5 Academic Uses for Student Journaling
Journal writing can go beyond personal reflection and relationship building and can be used for academic purposes.
This is a popular strategy used for journal writing and gives students an open-ended sentence or question to kick-start their writing process. Find writing prompts that tie into your curriculum, current events, or pop culture.
Dual entry journals are often used to support reading comprehension. Have students fold their paper in half. Then on the left side of the paper, have them write down a passage or quote, critical fact, key event, or emerging problem/conflict from their reading. On the right side of the paper, they can respond with their reaction, theory, or explanation.
Student journaling is also a great tool for helping students organize the information they learn throughout a unit by creating KWL charts (Know – Want to Know – Learned) in their journals.
Free Writing/ Creative Writing
Another style of journal writing is called free or creative writing. It’s a departure from prompted writing, as it allows students to create poems or stories on whatever topics they choose. While some students thrive with free writing, others will need the structure of a prompt, so incorporate both styles in student journaling.
Lifted line journaling tasks students with pulling a single quotation or line of text from their reading or lesson and responding to it.
Student Journaling In Other Content Areas
Journal writing in your English language arts curriculum seems like a natural fit. However, there are ways you can incorporate journal writing into other content areas.
Encourage students to use their journal to write out, in their own words, their process for solving different types of problems.
Journals become a field notebook when students write, sketch, or diagram their observations, theories, and experiment results.
A social studies curriculum allows for opportunities to journal about connections between the past and present, timelines of events, and their interpretations of historical events.