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- Guided Writing
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When people hear the phrase 'journal writing', we picture a person's innermost thoughts and secrets being written down in an elegant leather bound book, whereas inviting students to use a journal can be an excellent tool for encouraging to learn, understand and reflect about a variety of different concepts.
A good journal writing program in a classroom does not consist of letting your students write about whatever they want, but this can tend to get a little bit out of hand if not supervised. A more effective way of using your students' valuable lesson time would be to construct well-chosen journal topics and checklists of the individual topics that are covered in class time.
By practicing writing techniques everyday, children are able to improve their writing fluency whilst simultaneously practising their spelling and punctuation abilities. The biggest benefit of journal writing is that the teacher can gain a good and thorough understanding of what any of their students think about certain concepts. It also provides a safe output for students to write about their strengths and weaknesses that they may not be comfortable sharing out loud.
Teachers could set their students with a task of keeping a journal about their activities outside school or about their physical activities, they could also reflect their feelings on substances that can negatively affect the body such as alcohol, drugs or too much junk food. Another useful idea is getting the students to write about any particular part of their everyday lessons that does not make sense to them, for example, mathematic problems. This can highlight anything that the student is having difficulties with and it also provides the teacher with an insight into anything the student doesn't understand and allows them to assist.
Instead of giving the students specific topics, it could also be a good idea to provide them with lines that can begin a story and provoke inspiration such as 'if I won a million dollars…' or 'if I could be any character I would be…' This also provides students with more interesting topics that are fun for them to write. Rather than dictating to students every single topic that they should write, it may also be a good idea to incorporate a day where they pick their own topics, which can encourage independent work and ideas as children are more likely to write in an engaging and energetic manner if they enjoy the topic they are writing about.
During the last few minutes of each session, or perhaps just a couple each week, it may be a good idea to pick a couple of students to read part or all of what they have written. This can help to improve the listening skills of the class whilst also building the confidence of the student reading their work. It will also get them used to speaking in front of relatively large groups, a skill that will no doubt be useful in their later education or careers.