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Sunday, February 24, 2013

How to Use Journal Writing to Build Subject Matter Mastery

As students become engaged in analyzing increasingly more complex informational text, they will need to not only reflect on what they read, but keep careful notes on what they understood from the content of the text. 

How can this be achieved in the class?  Incorporate reflective journal writing into every subject area on a daily basis and give students credit for maintaining them.

If it is a math class at any level, having students towards the end of the class write in their own language what they learned about in that lesson and include key notes along with examples on the mathematical concepts covered in class.  Such an instructional tool would fully support students in better preparing for tests or assignments since students would have easy access to their not only their notes, but also sample equations along with explanations as to how the answers were arrived at.  This technique takes them through the thinking process and that could boost self-confidence in doing future assignments based on those notes.

If it is a literature class, students could use their reflective journals for many activities.  For example, they could track of characters in a novel as those characters.  This would mean that they would respond to events in the novel as they would expect the character might respond.  Teachers could also pose a host of "what if" scenarios where students would write about their interpretations of the outcomes of those scenarios.  If teachers are looking for student buy-in, this is a must have tool.

The same approach could be used in science, social studies, and geography classes.  Approach the journal activities as ways to fully engage all students (especially the strugglers).  Weave in creative activities (new level of Bloom's Taxonomy) in every class and have students keep notes on all that is considered important in classroom lessons.

Below are two sources which offer more ideas on how to integrate journal writing into class.  


REFLECTIVE JOURNAL WRITING IN THE CLASSROOM


HOW TO BUILD THE USE OF ACADEMIC LANGUAGE IN THE CLASSROOM

Denise

ELL TEACHER PROS

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