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Daily Journal Writing in the Classroom

Amanda Lockwood

University of La Verne

A Paper Prepared for EDUC 306

In Partial Fulfillment of

The Requirements for the Degree

Bachelor of Arts

May 2013



The purpose of this paper is to provide ideas, methods, and reasons for implementing a
successful daily journal program into a K-6 curriculum. Incorporating journaling in different
ways while allowing students to write about topics of their choosing will allow students to enjoy
the writing process. Through daily journal writing, students can improve their writing skills and
reading comprehension over time.


Daily Journal Writing in the Classroom

In todays classrooms it is common practice for some sort of journal to be maintained.

Numerous versions and styles of journals can be used, and can be used in numerous subjects
other than just Language Arts. The purpose of this paper will be to explore and discuss the
various types of journal entries than can be used to help improve not only a students writing
skills but various other skills as well.

Various types of journals can be maintained in the classroom, from personal journals and
literary journals to other journals that pertain to subjects such as science or mathematics. The
main form of journal writing that many may think of when the topic of journals are mentioned is
the personal journal, which may be thought of as a diary by some. This is a journal that students
can write in to share personal experiences, problems, or whatever is on their mind. These
journals are just as their title states, personal.

Literary journals are journals maintained by students in which entries are made in
response to topic choices given by the teacher, pertaining to literature they are currently reading.
When the class has completes a segment of reading, they can make entries to discuss where they
see the story heading, character analysis, or possibly what they think the theme may be (Cobine.


1995). Entries written in these segments can also be used later to create formal papers out of by
editing, reflecting, and adding to the original entry (Cobine, 1995).

Dialogue journals, also referred to as conversation in print by Cobine (1995) are a

back and forth written communication between the student and teacher. Within an entry, students
can write to their teacher and discuss topics of their choosing, share something, discuss a
problem theyre having with a particular part of the class, or ask questions. The teacher will
regularly respond to the student, providing answers to their questions, asking questions of their
own, or expand upon topics discussed by the student. This opens up a new line of
communication between the student and teacher that they may not otherwise have, allowing the
teacher to better understand their students as well as their specific needs (Peyton 1993).

Before journaling begins, it will be important to explain to the students that their journals
are private between them and their teacher, but we can all choose to share certain entries with
the rest of the class Describing the variations of the entries theyll be making to form a book
throughout the year will also be important so they can see the different ways theyll be
communicating on paper. With each of the previously described journal types having their own
purpose and benefits, all of these journal types will be incorporated into one single student
notebook, with sections divided into chapters for ease of reference (Cobine, 1995). It should be
explained that they will be given credit for completing entries but not marked down for


misspellings, grammar or punctuation errors. They should attempt to use the knowledge theyve
already gained to write as clearly as they can, but is not the main focus.

Students will choose to mark entries as confidential within their personal journals so
that the teacher knows this entry was just for the student and should not be reviewed by the
teacher, or they can mark specific entries for teacher response. Through this process teachers
have a window into student interests and needs, and students have an audience and environment
for their writing that is nurturing and non-threatening (Tichenor & Jewell, 1996, p. 86).

Each day one or more entries can be added into their journals, allowing approximately
10-15 minutes per session. Additional time can be given if necessary, allowing more time per
session as the school term progresses (Tichenor and Jewell, 1996). Typically these sessions can
be scheduled for after recess or lunch as a transition, or after literature segments are completed
within the class to reflect on what was read and discussed. Allowing students time to write
about what is on their mind can help students to gain interest in writing while improving their
writing skills through practice. Gau,Hermanson, Logar and Smerek (2003) found that students
were able to use this time to formulate their own thoughts without relying on the teacher or
another outside source to determine the focus of their writing (p. 43). Additionally, Zacharias
(1991) writes that there is a connection between the upsurge or interest in the processes of
journal writing and thinking processes. The connection is that journal writing assists the


development of thinking processes (p. 269). This time for self-expression also taps in to their
affective needs, addressing the individual personal strengths and weaknesses. When the teacher
reviews the journal entries and makes comments back, this can make them feel important.
Written responses to questions as well as in the dialogue journal can help to improve reading
comprehension and allows the students to see and model proficient writing skills (Peyton, 1993).

One of the main concerns with journal writing is that is can become boring and like a
chore for students. In Andersons 1993 article, he states that one student reported in the last
entry of her journal, I actually liked writing prior to coming to this class and actually kept a
journal. Now by forcing me to keep this journal, you have taken that away (p. 306). Negative
feelings lead to less overall writing from the students along with a lack of care for content and a
lack of passion in what theyre doing. Brainstorming ideas as a class for topics that interest them
can help to assist with students struggling to find things they enjoy writing about. Giving a
printed list of these topics that each student can keep with their journals when they need
inspiration can help reduce the likelihood of boredom with their writing. According to Gau et al.,
when students are given routine journal writing opportunities, as well as frequent opportunities
to write throughout the content areas, their attitudes toward writing will improve and the amount
they write will increase (2003, p. 42).


There are several options and ways to implement daily journal writing in the
classroom. Although some believe this type of writing can hinder the learning process, there are
also numerous benefits and ways to achieve success even with the possibility of problems. Most
importantly, giving students a new way to express themselves can allow students to enjoy the
writing experience as well as improve their overall writing skills and reading comprehension.



Anderson, J. (1992). Journal writing: the promise and the reality. Journal of Reading, 36(4), 304309. Retrieved May 16, 2013, from the ProQuest Research Library database.

Cobine, G. R., & ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, E. N. (1995). Effective Use of Student
Journal Writing. ERIC Digest.

Gau, E., Hermanson, J., Logar, M., & Smerek, C. (2003, May 1). Improving Student Attitudes
and Writing Abilities through Increased Writing Time and Opportunities.

Peyton, J., & ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, W. C. (1993). Dialogue
Journals: Interactive Writing To Develop Language and Literacy. ERIC Digest.

Tichenor, M.S., & Jewell, M.J. (1996). A framework for using journal writing in the primary
grades. Reading Improvement, 33, 81-87.

Zacharias, M. E. (1991). The relationship between journal writing in education and thinking
processes what educators say about it. Education, 112(2), 265.