Journaling as an academic exercise continues to gain popularity for it's effectiveness and simplicity. Still, many wonder what it really is and how to incorporate it into their educational plan. One challenge is that the concept itself is somewhat vague and open-ended. This provides maximum flexibility, but may leave students looking for guidance.
The best journal entries are a combination of record and reflection. Students record interesting facts or concepts they have learned about while adding their thoughts, notes, and ideas to what they are studying. In this way, the information is cemented in the student's mind as they work through it, think about it, write about it, and contemplate it some more.
The exercise of journaling provides a place for the student to interact with the material, to engage more fully in the process of learning. As teachers recognize the effectiveness of journaling, it has gained popularity and it is now used in learning environments from elementary school through graduate studies. Each subject or situation may require journaling to be implemented in a different way, tailored to suit the learning environment, the needs and abilities of the students, and the material.
How to Begin:
- Designate a place for journal entries in a notebook, binder, journal book, or even online in a place such as LiveJournal.
- Determine how often journaling will occur and when. Will the student journal daily? Or only after major lessons or projects? Is the best time morning, afternoon, or evening? Consistency enhances the journaling process.
- Set aside time for regular journal entries as part of the learning process. Students may journal daily about the lessons and events of the day, after field trips, during science projects, in response to literary readings, etc.
- A good journal entry should include a record of concepts learned, comments, reflections, and analysis, ideas or questions inspired by the concept being studied.
- Journal entries should not include complaining or gossip.
When students become familiar with the journaling process they will begin to see it as a useful tool helping them get the most out of their studies.