Writing Journals


I’ve used writing journals since I started teaching. When I began, my purpose was to get my special education students to begin to write (which they weren’t used to doing). It helped them get into a routine and get set to start working. It was also a way to buy myself some time so that I could see who brought the homework, pass out the homework stars, and take roll.

However, although my purpose is the same (to get their juices flowing, take roll, establish a routine), the journals have become so much more. I knew I needed to go to another level with the journal writing, but I’d hit an impasse lately. I didn’t want it to be just a busy activity. I was also frustrated after periodically checking my student’s journals. Some were doing a fantastic job, while others were not doing them at all. But, that was the extent of it. The writing wasn’t going anywhere. I knew I needed an extension activity, so the journals wouldn’t just be something that we did and never looked at it again- as was happening.

That’s why I was so inspired by a training I recently attended through Catapult Training. I asked the trainer about extension activities and she gave me the idea of having my students choose their favorite journal entry to extend into a story, complete with a beginning, middle, and ending. I presented the idea to my students and most of them embraced the concept. As of yesterday, I have six completed stories- almost half the class. Of course, the completed stories are from the higher performing students. Now, all I need to do is get the struggling students to complete it. I know this is easier said than done. So, I will set aside some time, sometime during the day, to help the struggling students with their work. I made this graphic organizer ( I don’t know if I thought it up, or saw it somewhere else) called And then… This was my way of helping them to keep their story going. We did it as a whole class activity. That’s a whole ‘nother post, which I will probably post on Monday when I have the student’s story in front of me. So, bye for now.

HERE’S TO 2011!

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5 thoughts on “Writing Journals

  1. What a great idea – although I usually teach small groups withdrawn from the regular classroom, I am fully aware of that early morning chaos. Butwe are trying to get the teachers at out school to get the kids to just start writing, and I think arriving, pulling out your journal and just starting to “Write While You Wait,” is a brilliant idea.
    What do you think about putting an optional topic on the board each morning?

  2. Teachermum, by optional topic, do you mean giving them the choice of what to write about? If so, I do periodically. But I guess I could do it more often. Thanks for the idea.

  3. Julie says:

    Teachermum- I like your idea about using the writing journal entries to extend into a full story. I sometimes feel as though I have the students doing activities to buy myself some time to take care of the chores that need to be done. Extending these activities into a more valuable assignment is a great idea. I have my students respond in a book journal about the books they are reading. I do not feel like I have given them enough direction on what to write in these journals and I believe they could be more valuable if I gave specific questions for them to answer. If you have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

  4. Hi Julie
    I have created an “Inspiration Station” of cards which I have been using. I am hoping to do a blog post on this soon, but it contains boxes with words to help crank up a character, character personality, situations, locations, events, props etc. Lots there to inspire writing when kids are stuck.
    Another tool I use is a hand – each finger respresenting who, what, where, when, why and then I tie the wrist in as emotions.
    A good tool I learnt from Tony Stead was:
    a) Who is your character?
    b) What was his problem?
    c) Were any friends or family involved?
    d) What happened with this problem?
    e) Were any friends or family involved?
    f) How did it resolve?

    I tend to use a lot of “lightning brainstorming” where you write down everything that comes into your head for 2-3 minutes without stopping. If nothing new comes in to your head – repeat same word until you get a new one. Each brainstorm piece then evolves into greater informaiton.

    I hope I was able to help.

  5. Actually Julie, you seem to be a little confused. This isn’t Teachermum’s blog. I’m not sure if you read something on Teachermum’s blog, but I am Special Ed, the author of this blog. I got the idea from a training I attended @ my school.

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