This perception carried over when I started teaching. I had the impression that having my students journal was simply busy work. It was something that I could have them do while I was taking attendance, passing out papers, or talking to students individually.
Boy was I wrong. Journaling can be an excellent tool for your students -
IF it is set up right!
This summer while I was teaching summer school, I started to implement journals as part of the daily routine. But my students weren't only writing about what they would do if they had $1 million. They weren't only writing about which 3 books they would take with them if they were on a deserted island...
Yes this was my elementary understanding of journal prompts.
Instead, they were writing about their past experiences in writing classes. They were journaling about what part of the writing process was the easiest for them. Which was the toughest for them. Journaling became a reflective part of the learning process that was essential to their learning.
Better yet, their final exam turned into a reflection of their overall growth in the semester. They were able to look back through old journal entries and see where and how they were struggling. They were able to scan through their challenges and triumphs.
I compiled a list of 14 Journal Prompts along with the Reflective Collage Essay for you to try out in your classroom. You can utilize these prompts every day in class for 3 weeks or have them done once a week for an extended-writing project. Either way, they promote reflection in the writing classroom.
I don't know about your experiences with journals before. But I do know that journaling has been a way for my students to truly reflect, both short- and long-term, in ways that I hadn't seen them do before in my classroom. Try them out and let me hear how it goes! I look forward to reading your reflections of their reflections!