Using Journal Writing with English Learners (and Other Students)

By Katharine Davies Samway

Journal writing provides an opportunity for students to reflect upon their lives and learning. This type of writing can enhance the language, literacy, and content learning of English learners (ELs) (e.g., Peyton & Reed, 1990; Taylor, 1990; Samway & Taylor, 1993), as well as non-ELs. While I have found that this type of reflective writing can be a powerful learning tool in good times, it can be particularly relevant and helpful during difficult times, such as now with schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and teaching/learning moved to online. However, keep in mind that online journal writing requires access to the Internet and a computer or cell phone—see my earlier K-12Talk post for solutions to these equity issues: What About Students Who Do Not Have Access to the Tools that Are Needed for Online Learning?

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Journaling: Creating the Feel of School Virtually

By Christa Forster

I miss the physicality of school. By “physicality,” I do not mean physical education, nor do I mean movement exactly. I mean all the ephemera we leave in our wakes as we sail—smoothly or tempest-tossed—through our daily schedules, together yet apart. Heads tilted toward one another, whispering or chatting, sighing or groaning; nods and waves and smiles during passing period; laughter in the halls during quiet moments in class; the pods of bodies in the cafeteria or library; the forlorn study guides, spiral notebooks, binders, water bottles, hoodies on the floors; lockers slamming shut; empty candy and cough drop wrappers littering the spaces. All of this “stuff” contributes to the feel of school and therefore to the feel of learning.

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