Throwback Thursday to 10/13 Journals

7:01 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Here is my Throwback Thursday from  October 13, 2014

I think this was one of the first draft posts I started back in July.  I am just now putting the finishing touches on it and sharing it with all of you.

I believe in writing every day in order to get better at it.  Writing Next said 70% of students are low-achieving writers.  We need our students to be writing all kinds of writing more often with different purposes. One way that I accomplish this is through daily journal writing in my English classes. 

Here is my system:

I buy the .10 single subject college-ruled notebooks in August when they appear in bulk at my local retailer.  This year I bought two colors for each class period, so I could easily tell 4th hour from 7th hour.

I begin on the first day of school (always a Tuesday here in Michigan) by having students grab a notebook as they enter the room.  At the start of the first class, the question is always the same: Why do we have to study English in school if it is our native language?  I don't give a length or anything the first day, but it is an important questions and routine to establish.  We have a short discussion about this on day one!

I go on to lay out my expectations for daily journal writing:

-20 lines every day Monday-Thursday
-They must address the topic I give them
-Once they address my topic, they may start a new paragraph with some other topic.
-I grade this on content and completeness

I also follow a set pattern for my topics:

Monday: Highs and lows of the last week-I think it is important to evaluate our lives on a regular basis to determine what we have to be thankful for and what we need or want to change to make it better.
Tuesday: Creative Writing-I like love this site for picture prompts and creative writing ideas.  I usually work through them in order over the course of the year.  These things get the juices flowing.
Wednesday: Persuasive/Argumentative writing.  The New York Times has a great list.  The ACT is part of our state assessment (at least until Common Core takes over), so students need repeated practice with this type of writing.  I also have them go back through their journals to find these writings to choose from for their full-length researched papers.
Thursday: Freewrite- The students can write about whatever moves them.  Some love this while others need me to give them a topic, and I always say the first word that comes to mind...usually an animal or food to be honest.

Other ideas I have tried are Pinterest pictures from my writing board and songs.  I have also done some mimicking of other author's styles.

By this point you are probably asking about Friday.  I do something a little bit different on Friday.  I ask them to revise and edit their entries from the previous week in a different color (I set out colored pencils for this task).  I refer them to the anchor chart above my board where the topic is written for the day.

 The original came from 3rd Grade Thoughts.  I created mine on

I collect these every other Friday and score two weeks at a time.  I have my grades set with category weights, and journals are 10% of a student's grade.  I do this for several reasons: it makes scoring them easier on me and it motivates them enough to get them done.  

Often students ask if I read their journals, and I do, but I tell them that I don't read them like a book where I want to follow every detail and event.  I more skim-read to get the gist, make a comment on something, and see that it is complete.  I try and make one comment in each students' notebook each time I read them, but sometimes I get in a groove and forget.

The points are easy: one point for every line and five points per journal for editing and revising.  Students often forget the revision part (even after a lengthy discussion the first few times and an anchor chart).  Each day is worth 25 points, and two weeks is usually 200  (if we have class each day).  That massive amount of points is part of the reason I have to do weighted categories.  I just don't want to work harder than I have to in order to calculate grades. 

I don't count the lines as I have developed a sophisticated system: a piece of college-ruled paper folded over and numbered.  I line it up and total!  The one on the right is a wide-ruled one just in case.  They are kind of gross after years of my dirty hands on them...ewww.

I am working on getting every day for the year put into a Google Slides presentation to make my life easier.

Check out other throwbacks.

This was originally posted in Anchors Away Monday:
Check out some more anchor charts

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