I make my students journal. I am not unique among teachers and by far the norm among my National Writing Project kin. I know many teachers who successfully use writing journals to foster creative and personal writing as well as reflective writing in their classes as well as a tool to track lessons and ideas. In fact, my friend and NWP colleague Vickie Moriarity likes to use thematic journals (created by the entire class) to explore issues important to her middle school students. This type of journal is sometimes called a Dialogue Journal. In fact, NWP teachers so love their journals and notebooks that they have taken it to the next level by hacking our notebooks.
While I began my college career requiring my students to use the more traditional composition notebook that so many of my colleagues use, I long ago moved to electronic journals. While we often do some writing by hand in class (for low-stakes writing such as bell ringers and exit slips to encourage students to prepare for our class discussion and/or reflect on what we have learned/discussed that day) and we create a reflective class blogextending those in-class writings and preparing our more high-stakes writing assignments, my journal assignment is a little different.
Read the full “Why Self-Assessment Journals?” post on my Metawriting blog at: http://metawriting.deannamascle.com/why-self-assessment-journals/