First, a word of warning: unmonitored journals can do harm. Kids see them as busy work. And since no one really cares about the journals, students practice writing poorly—very poorly. Unmonitored journals often send the wrong message as to what is important in writing. In fact, unmonitored journals can erase a great deal of hard work that went into getting students to write correctly in the first place. Practice makes perfect, and if students practice writing incorrectly, they will get perfect at writing incorrectly. Students must understand that their journals are important and they must take pride in them.
One of the best things about daily journal writing is that it can take so many forms. Teachers can use journal writing to meet specific goals, or the purpose can be wide open. Some teachers check journal writing and work on polishing skills; others use journals as the one "uncorrected" form of writing that students produce. Some teachers provide prompts to help students begin their writing. Others leave decisions about the direction and flow of student journals up to the students. This week, Education World talked with teachers who use daily journal writing in their classrooms. Included: Writing motivators that work from teachers who use them!