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Keeping a Learning Log

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Keeping a Learning Log

Young adult writing on a notepad
Thoughtful Learning

A learning log is a space where you can write your thoughts, feelings, and questions about what you are studying. The writing you do in a learning log is quick and ungraded, so there is no pressure to get it perfect. More importantly, it will help you deepen your learning in any class, no matter the subject area. 

Learning logs work best when you write in them regularly—every day or every other day. Once you get into a routine, you will more easily remember, understand, and apply the new concepts you are learning about in your classes. Follow these tips to get started:

  • Reserve a space for your learning logs, perhaps in a notebook, a special folder on your computer, or a personal blog.
  • Keep a learning log for any subject, but especially for one that is hard for you.
  • Write quickly and freely. Take just five or ten minutes to write each entry. Don't worry about getting every word correct. Write until you have nothing left to say.
  • Start with what happened in class or in a reading. At first, all you need to do is restate something you found interesting or puzzling. Then you can begin to reflect on it.
  • Question the things you have learned. Test new ideas to see how well you understand them. Think about what strategies helped you learn and what questions you still need answered.

Your Turn Read the sample learning-log entry at the bottom of the page. Then write your own learning-log entry following these guidelines.

  1. Designate a space for your learning log.
  2. Choose a reading assignment or a classroom lesson to respond to in your learning log.
  3. Write freely for 5-10 minutes about what you learned or still need to learn. Try answering one these questions to get started:
  • What is most important thing I Iearned from the reading or lesson?
  • What strategies helped me understand the reading or lesson?
  • What is something that puzzles me about the topic?
  • How does the concept relate to my own life?
  • How does the topic or concept relate to other things I have read or learned?

Sample Learning-Log Entry

Feb. 14

Key words: Diptera, viruses, bacteria, malaria

I thought flies and mosquitoes were a pain just because they bite. But it turns out that you can get more than an itchy bump from a mosquito. It can carry germs that cause serious diseases such as malaria. (Fortunately, mosquitoes in the U.S. do not carry malaria. Whew!)

Doctors think that, in all of history, more people have died of malaria than any other disease. And it still kills many people today, especially in Africa. (I wonder what we are doing to prevent it there.) Malaria was also one of the reasons why the Roman Empire fell. That means that mosquitoes have had a big-time effect on history.

From the blog post "12 Writing-to-Learn Activities "

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