12 We write in journals.


We write in journals.

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Journals offer children the opportunity to make choices about writing and drawing. When they write in journals, they should be encouraged to write “their own way”—using scribble writing, copying words, spelling phonetically, and/or drawing. Children will gradually learn and apply some of the acceptable conventions of writing from the modeling, guidance, and writing interactions that happen in the classroom and at home.

About the Picture One child is writing and drawing about a happy experience he shared with his dad. Spot’s basketball shows he’s ready to get into the game, too.

Major Concepts

  • Children should write “their own way” in journals.
  • Journal writing is an independent and personal form of writing.

State Standards Covered in This Chapter

LAFS Covered in This Chapter

TEKS Covered in This Chapter

Daily Lesson Planning

Special Note: Although children can write on the first day of school, it may be better to save journal writing for later (8-10 weeks into the year or at the beginning of the second semester). As children begin to learn about themselves as writers and feel somewhat comfortable with the idea, introduce journal writing and make time for it on a regular basis. Monthly journals give students, parents, and teachers a record of a child’s growth as a writer by the end of the year.

Introduction to Journals

  1. Read the entry in the boy’s journal and then discuss "We write in journals." Point out how the writer used a drawing and words to record his ideas. Let children know that they, too, can draw pictures and write words in their journals. If you introduce journal writing early in the year, demonstrate various journal entries to help children feel comfortable with their own writing attempts. (See "Writers write to share ideas.")
  2. Provide students blank versions of the illustration so that they can experiment with writing their own journal entries.
  3. Implement “We write in journals” (BB 20) as a practice journal page.
  4. Try “Writers write words and draw pictures in journals” (BB 21).

Journal Ideas

Choose from the following:

  • As you do shared writings with the children, talk about the process you are involved in. Talk about letters, words, and sentences—when to leave spaces, use punctuation, and write capital letters.
  • Involve children in making their own journals (monthly/seasonally) by decorating covers, adding their names, and stapling pages together.
  • Help children discover sources of journal-writing ideas. They can write about activities in or out of school, how they feel, topics they know about or are learning about, characters in favorite books, their friends, words they want to try out, jokes, or wishes. Implement "My Journal Ideas" as the starting point, or first page, each time the children begin new journals.

Sharing Journals

  1. At regular intervals, read and respond to children’s journals.
  2. Periodically, share children’s journal entries as a “progress report” for parents.
LAFS Standard:
NE ELA Standard:

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Additional Activities

These activities offer options for continuing the learning in this unit. Whether your curriculum is skill-based or more open-ended, select the activities that are most appropriate for the children in your classroom. The Writing Spot is primarily a writing program, but writing can be integrated throughout your curriculum—in art, drama, reading, math, and science.

  • Share good things in journals.

Encourage children to write positive things about themselves in their journals. Use a divider to create a section called “Good Things About Me.” Then help children to discover and think about the good things they do, think, and say. Ask them to write about these things in their journals. This activity builds self-esteem. Use "Good Things About Me" to introduce children to this type of journal page.

  • Keep an observation calendar.

Keep track of the weather, a plant’s growth, the behavior of a classroom pet, visitors to your classroom, or any other project or activity that changes from day to day. With children’s input, make observations and record the information on a large sheet of paper. Write the day and date on each entry, and after 10 days, bind the pages into a class learning log. Place it in your reading center.

  • Point out classroom writing resources.

The classroom environment can be a great resource for children’s writing, but they have to be reminded regularly to use it as such. Place informational charts (colors, alphabet, etc.) at eye level and encourage children to use the charts to find words and to check spelling.

  • Journal after a read-aloud.

After hearing a special story or poem read aloud, ask children to respond to the literature in their journals. Offer a specific prompt—“write or draw about a favorite part” or “draw a picture and write a few words that show how you feel about the story or poem.”

  • Invite children to share journal entries.

As the year progresses, students may be ready to share their journal writing with the class. Provide sharing opportunities for willing volunteers.

  • Expand knowledge by writing in journals.

A journal is a great place for children to write about things that they like to do. Whenever you can, help children to expand their knowledge about a hobby or a subject by suggesting books, asking questions, showing pictures, and so on.

  • Write about class visitors in journals.

Invite writers, artists, the mail carrier, police officers, or firefighters to visit your class. Visitors can come to read stories, to demonstrate skills, or to tell about their occupations. The change in routine will be a highlight for the children—something they can draw and write about in their journals. Volunteers can make copies of their journal pages to send to the visitor.

  • Capture trips and special places in journals.

Field trips and outings with parents are great subjects for journaling. When a child has been on a vacation, encourage him or her to tell the class about it. Consider visiting some Web sites about the vacation place or reading books about it as whole-class enrichment activities. Encourage children to journal about the places they’ve been or places they would like to visit and to share what they have learned with their classmates.

  • Remember new information by writing in journals.

Remind children to write in their journals about the things they learn and want to remember: “Some tigers are white.” “Penguins sleep standing up.” “My great-grandma was born during WW II.”

  • Share feelings in journals.

Explain that story writers put a lot of their own feelings into their sentences. Talk about “feeling” words—sad, happy, silly, scared, and so on. Say the words aloud and ask children what pictures pop into their imaginations when they hear these words. Encourage children to write and draw about feelings in their journals.

  • Record important family events in journals.

Children should know that they can write about anything in their journals, not just things that happen in school. Suggest that they write about brothers, sisters, pets, friends, holidays, a new baby in the family, and on and on.

LAFS Standard:
NE ELA Standard:

Related Resource Tags

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English Language Arts: