Journaling is an act of agentive note-taking or reflection designed to keep an external thoughts of feelings, insights in more.
The modality of a journal can range from text, to blogs, drawings, and video. The chosen mode often reflects the agency of the author and the discipline of the subject.
Disciplinary literacy refers to instruction that is discipline-specific in nature and attends to the unique ways that experts in each respective field approach and interact with text (Shanahan & Shanahan,2008). A physicists notes will not look like a notebook when critiquing a graphic novel.
Journaling within a subject allows readers and writers to essentially become members of the disciplinary community. They take on the role of disciplinary experts within the pages of the journal and interact with the text in such (Brozoet al., 2013) ways as those who work in the discipline.
“Better note-taking” misses the point; what matters is “better thinking.” Journaling provides the tool for better thinking
The Common Core State Standards, Next Generartion Science Standards, and the 3C Framework for Social studies all call for teachers to support reading and writing with complex texts. Utlizing journals in the discipline (Graham, Kerkhoff, Spires, 2017) either in hybridity with literacy teachers or within the classroom provide the first step.
We must realize note-taking as a monolithic content area skill does not always reflect unique ways of producing external reflections in each discipline. Overall educators must provide (Duffy, 2002; Duke & Pearson, 2002; Fisher & Frey, 2008; Marin & Halpern, 2011) the metacognitive reflection, explicit modeling, and scaffolded approaches. Journaling provides an aevenue while creating assessment artifacts.
In the classroom journaling first revolves around a sense of agency and ownership. We want students to “BE” an historian or a “Newspaper Editor.” This can often include personifying a journal by decorating or picking one to two heroes in the that discipline.
Journaling also provides an opportunity for a more responsive classroom. First you can reclaim the instructional minutes of transitioning into or out of classroom if students walk into a daily prompt
In language arts the discipline focuses on the skills of a literary critic, close reading, and the production of creative texts across a variety of genres and modalities (Warren, 2011; Graham, Kerkhoff, Spires, 2017).
In Language arts you end up with two journals, or bifurcate them from the “free-write” or “writing journal” and the journal for textual analysis and critique where you explore the common threads of human condition that exists in all words and texts.
The writing journal helps us to understand what a child knows, how they know it, and why they value it. Students can respond to daily writing prompts and then pick pieces to develop during writing instruction.
Make the writing journal special. You do not assign it for homework and you keep the grading, if any, minimal. You do have to make it a regular part of the class and students need to see you the teacher journaling. You need to share responses from your journal.
Use a variety of prompts and free-writes. Some students may want to explore the deep questions of the human conditions. Others may due their best writing about aliens with bad flatulence.
The writing journal is one of the major tools in establishing your classroom as a community of readers and writers.
Literary Analysis Journal
In terms of literary journals you can break these up by units or novels.
In science we often focus our journaling on classification and vocabulary (Graham, Kerkhoff, Spires, 2017). In late elementary school and early middle school we may do word building activities with prefixes and suffixes.
Students need to learn how to skim across multiple sources in science, judge relevancy , and integrate findings.
They need to write procedural steps of inquiry and then iterate on the experiments when they fail. The thinking around these experiments can happen in journals.
Entries in Science Journals
In mathematics we must see the notebook as more than a procedural tool. So many teachers collect the math notebook and make sure notes, homework, and quizzes appear in the correct chronological order. This assesses organization and not mathematical thinking.
The goal of journaling in math is to not see math as an isolated subject but to see numeracy as a tool for making meaning across disciplines similar to how teachers view literacy.
Entries in a Math Journal
In social studies we use journals to explore multiple perspectives in history. The goal is to find the message in a text or event and connect it to other texts and events. Finally we want learners to maker assertions about histories causes, its impact on power, and its impact on current events.
Students need to reflect on their use of primary sources and both the content and organization of those sources.
Entries in Social Studies: