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11/11/2007 - Using "Journals" to Develop Purposeful Writing in the Classroom

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Writing in "journals" or "journal time" was one of my favorite subjects growing up in school. I can remember looking forward to the comments the teachers would write daily in my journals. As years passed on in grade school, I grew accustomed to positive grades and opinions being given to me on my journal entries.

I could remember journal writing was a must do all the way up to attending high school. When I entered college, journals became non-mandatory. What a shame.

Journals are like having a conversation with a person, yet written down on paper. Journals force you to focus on your own thoughts, not necessarily the thoughts of others. I truly believe that my personal thoughts about what I was learning daily helped me become a better writer.

I find that journals help students think of their writing as purposeful, rewarding, and wonderful. Journaling is a great task to do on a daily basis in the classroom. Writing journals ARE a wonderful form of communication(a very important Language Arts concept). The reader and writer are more involved in the process, and the writing can many times be extremely focused, detailed, and specific.

I am learning that journal writing interests me to the utmost. The overall structure of journals is very free, fun, and focused to me. I make entries to my personal journal daily. Often they are about things I have learned or things that the Almighty has taught me that day.

The thought process of a writer is the key to what all journals should be about. Journals are very much like creative writing in a box. Overall, journals are enjoyable to write, and at the same time they are very relaxing and a great escape from the rigors of daily life.

What I picture my students writing is basic creative thoughts that come from their minds. For example, as a class, we may have a discussion about taking care of dogs. I, as the teacher, expect to read journals on either what it is to raise a dog, the students' own opinion on dogs, what type of dog they should own, and the pros and cons of having a dog.

Or...whatever else they'd like to write about dogs. I hope to have a free, open writing policy with my students, so that they are free to express themselves clearly in thoughts, questions, and especially in their writing. In conclusion, journals ARE the last task that my students do at the end of a busy day. I have them write about what they learned that day and...they love it.

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