How often are you journaling in your classroom? If you’re like most teachers, your answer might be, “Not often” or “Not enough”. Many teachers tell me, “I don’t know where to start”, or “I don’t have the time”. Sound familiar?
In this blog, we will focus on answering the following questions:
• Why journal?
• How do I start?
• What will I gain from adding it in my classroom?
Did you know that Journaling is one of 5 non-negotiable learning experiences?
As John Dewey said, “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on
As teachers, it is important to “see” inside the minds of our students in order to:
• Inform our delivery and instruction to prioritize what comes next
• Collect evidence of growth in their thought process and their ability to
communicate that on paper
Journaling enables us to “see” our students’ thoughts and strategies and it helps the students
build a habit of thinking. However, careful consideration needs to be given to the
implementation process because it is not a natural process.
How do I start?
Here are my 5 tips to get you started:
1) Begin with an informal journal at the beginning of the
year if possible to help establish the format. A simple entry
such as, “What do you like about learning math?” helps
students embrace the task and build a foundation for future
entries that require deeper thought.
2) Select the right journaling prompt or problem to reinforce
your lesson, then choose one of the following types of journal
All types of journaling are good. I recommend Descriptive
when in the early stages of learning and Investigative when in
application and mastery. Consider Evaluative and Creative entries
in the consolidation stages.
3) Start slow. Try 1-2 journal prompts a chapter, allowing time to
go back and add to an entry. Ask students once a week to reflect
back and revise an entry in a different color pen to illustrate
4) Do not try to correct or grade. Simply use a symbol or
phrase to let students know they are on target or need to
revisit an idea. Insist that each entry should include two
methods/examples as well as an explanation. Share entries
with the class, critiquing when needed, while modeling good
journal entries. Students need to know what good journaling
5) Connect your journal prompt to your objective or “I Can”
statement. What do you expect the response to the prompt to
be? What are you looking for in assessing where the student is in
regards to the objective?
What will I gain by taking time to journal in my class?
In addition to reinforcing your learning, journaling will increase student engagement and enhance your parent-teacher conversations. As teachers, we strive to connect with our students while understanding their depth of knowledge. Can the student just give an answer by rote procedures, or can they communicate the content well enough to demonstrate deeper understanding? Journaling helps you answer these questions. I hope I’ve inspired you to add journaling to your classroom toolbox. I look forward to collaborating on the www.mathodology.com teacher forum under the Discussion Board tab.