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WE 115 Writing in Journals

Teacher Tips and Answers


Page 115

Journal Writer
© Thoughtful Learning 2024

Writing in Journals

Some days are wonderful, with a first place finish in soccer and an A on a test and a hummingbird sighting in the garden. You want to hold onto days like those, and writing in a journal helps you remember the wonderful things.

Other days are not so great, with a bad bus ride and getting home late and popcorn spilling and the film breaking at the movie theater. You may have bad feelings that you need to think through. A journal can help with that, too.

A journal is for all of your days, good and bad. It helps you think through your life, expressing your thoughts and feelings. It’s your cozy friend who listens.

What’s Ahead

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Why Write in a Personal Journal?

When you write in a journal, you can do any of these activities:

  • Take notes about what you see and hear.
  • Collect ideas for stories, poems, and reports.
  • Practice writing by yourself.
  • Deal with bad days.
  • Remember good times.

Here’s how to get started . . .

1. Gather the right tools.
Grab a pen or pencil and a notebook, or use a computer.

2. Find a special time and place to write.
Get up early and write while it is quiet in your house. Write at a regular time during school. Or find a cozy chair after supper, curl up, and write.

3. Write every day.
Write freely about your thoughts and feelings as they come to mind. Don’t worry about what you say or how you say it. Just keep writing for at least 5 to 10 minutes at a time.

4. Write about what is important to you.
Write about something that is bothering you or something you want to remember. Write about what you did last weekend or something you saw. Write about one thing for a while and then go on to something else. (See topic ideas.)

5. Keep track of your writing.
Put the date on the top of the page each time you write. Read your journal now and then. Underline interesting ideas that you want to write more about sometime.

Note Writing in a journal is great practice. If the only writing you do is for assignments, you can’t expect to write as well as students who regularly practice in their journals.

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A Closer Look at Journal Writing

Journal writing gives you the chance to think. It lets you reflect on and learn from your experiences. When you do this, your writing becomes lively and interesting. It sounds like you.

Ask Questions 🟪 What was special about this experience? How do I feel about it? Why do I feel this way? Then look for answers.

Wonder 🟪 Think about what you learned from the experience. Compare it to other experiences. Do you wish you had done things differently? Predict what you might do in the future.

Write More 🟪 Start a new journal entry. Write about something new, or pick up right where you left off in your last entry. When an idea surprises you, say more about it. When you are sure you’ve said all that you can, write a few more lines.

Make Connections 🟪 Even if ideas seem really different, try to make connections between them. Make connections between your ideas and the news, movies, or songs.

Express Yourself

Read the sample journal entry on the following page. In this writing, a student reflects on an exciting concert in the school gymnasium.

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Kinds of Journals

Personal Journal 🟪 A personal journal is a place for writing about your day and reflecting on what it means to you.

Dialogue Journal 🟪 In a dialogue journal, you and a friend, parent, or teacher write to each other about experiences, books, or other topics. (See the sample on page 119.)

Diary 🟪 In a diary, you write about personal things.

Learning Log 🟪 In a learning log, you write about subjects like math, science, and social studies. It helps you to understand the subjects better. (See pages 121–124.)

Response Journal 🟪 In a response journal, you explore your feelings about the stories and books that you read. (See the samples on page 120.)

Special-Event Journal 🟪 In a special-event journal, you write about big events—playing a sport, having a new family member, or working on a special project.

Sample Personal Journal

April 5

Assembly today was amazing! We had the high school jazz band in the gym. They played lots of cool songs, and people stood up and made up solos on the spot. They played “Batman,” and a trumpet player in a costume chased the Joker around the gym.

Afterward, we got to go up and look at the instruments. I really like the trombone. It has a long slide and makes a kind of smeary sound. Maybe I will join band next year and play the trombone. The funny thing is, it has a valve for letting the spit out!

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Sample Dialogue Journal

In the dialogue journal below, a fifth grader and his father write about their road trip up the Alaska Highway.

Dear Dad,

Today was my favorite day so far on our trip to Alaska. I couldn’t believe all the wildlife we saw in the mountains! A black bear, a couple of moose, a bald eagle, and that whole herd of bison. Right there, on both sides of the road! It’s sure more fun driving in the mountains of British Columbia than the plains of Saskatchewan!



P.S. How much farther do we have to go to get to Alaska? I can’t wait for Anchorage!

Dear Gabe,

I agree about the mountain driving instead of the plains. Our little SUV is certainly being a trooper. I feel bad for all those RVs struggling up the hillsides.

Today was a long one—11 hours to reach Whitehorse. Tomorrow won’t be so bad, maybe 8 hours to Tok, which is in Alaska. And then it’s one last push, probably 10 hours to Anchorage.

I hope we see lots more animals on the way, though I hope they stay off the road!



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Sample Response Journal

These two entries come from different parts of a response journal. The first entry is a response to fiction, and the second to nonfiction.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

March 24—I like this book because I have a bratty little brother just like Fudge. Peter constantly has to help his parents with Fudge, who won’t eat unless he can eat off the floor like a dog or unless Peter stands on his head.

Worst of all is when Fudge scribbles all over Peter’s school project. He has to start all over from scratch. If my brother did that, there would be big trouble!

I just got to the part where Dad put a new lock on Peter’s door. I hope that keeps Fudge out so Peter can get some relief. Fudge is funny . . . until he isn’t.

Tut’s Treasures

November 12—National Geographic has a special edition for the 100th anniversary of discovering King Tut’s tomb. He was a pharaoh in Egypt 3,000 years ago, and he died unexpectedly when he was just 19. He still was loved by his people because he reversed what his father had done with changing the religion. He is called Tutankhamun, which means “Living image of Amun,” because he restored worship to the god Amun. He also moved the capital back to Thebes. I guess that’s why the people buried him in a solid-gold casket! He had over 200 jewels in his tomb, including a beautiful falcon amulet in gold with precious stones to make the feathers.

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Standards Correlations:

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Lesson Plan Resources:

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Vocabulary List:
  • dialogue journal: journal that contains back-and-forth entries between two people

  • learning log: journal that reflects on learning in a specific class, such as math or history or science

  • response journal: journal that reflects on whatever you are reading

  • sensory details: details that help a reader, see, feel, smell, taste, or hear a subject

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