When teachers introduce the idea of writing journals in their classrooms, they often are searching for reflective journal writing tips for students – the ideas and advice that will help get students motivated to think, write reflectively, formulate opinions, and write about them. Students – middle and high school students especially – can all benefit from writing in journals, and it is not a difficult or expensive teaching technique to introduce into a lesson plan. Keep reading for more information about reflective journal writing tips for students.
Students of all ages can learn a lot from keeping a regular journal. In fact, teachers can, too – learning from experience is an important part of the teaching career track, and many teachers like to reflect on what is working and what is not working within their classrooms. Students themselves like to write in journals: these small notebooks allow students to create a safe space to write, express themselves, and document their progress.
People tend to learn a lot about themselves and their habits when forced to write about them, so journal writing is a critical activity for fostering personal development in students.
Students all agree: sometimes the worst writer’s block attacks them right at the moment that a journal entry or essay is assigned. Teachers who want to encourage students to work beyond the writer’s block often utilize the "pick a topic" strategy: students can be encouraged to write about anything, or anything in relation to a theme – but if they can’t come up with a topic of their own, they can write about a topic provided by the teacher.
Many teachers like to use the "stream of questioning" technique for fostering idea development when creating journal exercises. This technique is built upon offering a series of questions about a topic. For example, if the assignment was to write a journal entry about the Romeo and Juliet reading that had been done in class that week, a teacher could ask a series of questions as follows:
Encourage your students to answer any, all, or just some of the questions within their journal entry.
Your aim should be to get students to draw connections between their schoolwork and their life outside of school. This helps students draw a personal connection to the work that they are doing. Furthermore, it helps students better understand the events that are happening in their everyday lives.
Tell your students to try to use new words they’ve learned, good spelling, and good grammar within their reflective journals. They can grow as writers and will become more fluent in the written language if they are forced to write with a skill level a little bit outside of their comfort zone.
Consider that you might have to edit these journals for content, or comment on their work. Instead of telling them that their ideas are right or wrong, ask your students to give more detail to their ideas, to support their ideas more, and to write with clearer language that makes their work easier to understand.
Once in a while, have your students reflect on one of their old journal entries. Journals are a great way to document personal growth, and it is very useful for students to go back and discover how far they’ve come as writers, even within a few weeks of journal writing.
With their old entry, they can analyze their old writing skills, they could offer a new edited version of their old entry, and they could write a new entry that comments on their writing style and old ideas – either supporting what they have done or developing upon old ideas.
With these reflective journal writing tips for students in your pocket, you will be able to start boosting the writing and thinking skills of your students in no time.
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