Advice on journaling as bell work - need tip on organizing

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by 773 Miles Away, Jul 13, 2007.

  1. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    Jul 13, 2007

    Hi there. My plan for my 5th grade class this fall is to use an open form of journaling as the bellwork. My main goal for this comes in three parts... one I want my students to simply write more and this will allow for that, two, I want my students to practice writing on a given topic (the question or topic I write on the board), and three, I want to allow for a venue for students to communicate with me in a special way one-to-one.

    Students will have a choice when the get in to write according to the topic written on the board or they can simply write to me. This allows for students the ability to talk to me about issues they are having in the class, things they simply want to let me know about (cool vaca, new puppy etc), or anything else really they want to talk about. I think it offers an excellent way to connect with each student. If a student has nothing of importance to say, they can simply write according to the topic.

    My goal is to also reply on a regular basis to each journal for each student. I don't intend to write full journals back.. but more like comments in the margins, insightful questions, and/or a quick sentence or two at the end - depending on what they write.

    NOW FOR MY DILEMMA...

    How do I make this work... for me.

    I initially thought each student would have a single subject notebook. That is easy for the students (no losing pages, everything is kept sequential) but if I want to take them home to read... I'm carrying some serious weight on the train home.

    Now I'm thinking thinner books. Maybe homemade notepads or two pocket portfolios with those metal tabs in the center that hold 3 punched paper? We could put in a thin stack of paper and replace and refill? The problem here... I have to figure out how to make homemade thin notebooks, or I have to buy all those folders which I didn't plan on buying.

    OR, put a stack of loose paper in the front of the room, grab a sheet and hold them in regular two pocket folders (which I have plenty of). But I don't want them to lose papers or have papers out of order. I can easily carry 25 sheets of paper home though.

    Maybe I could do binders? Store the loose paper in binders - they should stay in order.. they hopefully won't rip out as time goes on. I can bring home individual sheets and store the binders here. Maybe I could put the binders in a shelf instead of their desk to save space? (they won't really need to access them except during the bellwork period). But then I have to buy binders... arg.

    What would you do??
     
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  3. MissaG

    MissaG Companion

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    Jul 13, 2007

    I would do composition notebooks. They are smaller than regular notebooks. Also, get on a rotation, where you have say 4 different groups within the class and group 1 turns in journals on Tuesday, group 2 on Thursday and 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday also but alternating weeks. That way you are only taking 5-6 journals home at a time.
     
  4. hawkteacher

    hawkteacher Comrade

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    Jul 13, 2007

    I did this during my student teaching and plan to do it as well this year. I loved it, my kids loved it and it really didn't take that much extra time for me to reply.

    It sounds like a great idea for bellwork! My kids journaled three times a week after lunch (it was a great calming activity with lights off, music on). They could respond to my prompt or tell me about anything. The majority of the time, they wrote about what was going on in their lives. They wrote in regular notebooks.

    They had to turn in their journals once a week to me. Half the class turned in one day, the other half the next.

    As soon as they left for the day I sat down at my desk and responded. It took 10-15 minutes (probably longer because I talked with my team teachers while doing this ;)). I wrote a full entry in response. Ex:

    Dear Jessica, Date

    A couple of sentences in response to what they wrote.

    Miss Hawkteacher :)


    I can't tell you how much I loved our journals! I learned so much about my students!

    We used the same journals every Friday to write a letter to parents, explaining what we did during the week. Lots of parents wrote back to their kids, so it was always fun to read their responses too.

    Don't worry about the logistics 773 Miles Away, just enjoy their responses!
     
  5. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Jul 13, 2007

    It is manageable but you do need to give yourself the time to do it at school. Once you get into a routine and make a committment that this particular time is set aside for going over journals, you'll do it. Collect different groups on different days! Sounds good to me!!
    I'm doing Reading Response Notebooks and every two weeks they have to pick their three best entries and tag them with a sticky note for me to grade. We will use all entries for possible longer pieces to develop from the short entries during our writers workshop. The writing during workshop will tie to their Reading program.
     
  6. Ilovefirst

    Ilovefirst Comrade

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    Jul 13, 2007

    I had a teacher in 5th grade that did this. I remember LOVING it. :) She had us divided up by last name as to who turned in their journal on what day. We wrote in our journal if we had it. If she had it, we got to free read. (maybe not the best system, but it worked and it wasn't very often we didn't have them)
    I would split the class into groups or half. Maybe you don't reply to EVERY time they write? I would def. respond at school rather than taking them home.
     
  7. AngelM

    AngelM Rookie

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    Jul 13, 2007

    I love your ideas for journaling! My first choice would be a spiral notebook - I just think it's the most efficient way of managing the process. However, I see your issue with having to drag those home.

    I think my second choice would be the folders with prongs. Just a note on the cost - they do have those for .10 at Wal-Mart right now. :)
     
  8. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Jul 13, 2007

    Do you assign point value to journals? Do you use a rubric? Is it part of their writing grade?
     
  9. RobyBrow

    RobyBrow Rookie

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    Jul 13, 2007

    Great idea to read journals during journal time. That will ensure that you do it and make the child whose journal who have feel special. You could even hold a mini conference with the student whose journal you are reading. Reading all 20 or 25 journals everyday or in one evening will be quite overwhelming. I also had my students volunteer to read journal entries if they chose to as well.
     
  10. teachingmomof4

    teachingmomof4 Groupie

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    Jul 14, 2007

    I would do the folders with the prongs for paper. I just bought a bunch at Walmart for $.10 each. (The cashier was not too happy but oh well.) I pick 3 kids to share their journal with the class each day. (I just pull 3 names from the jar. They love it and of course, they all want to share.) Folders would be easiy to take home, if needed. But, as someone said, try and do it at school. During your planning time, recess...? You don't want to have to drag that stuff home, especially on the train. (I used to take everything home everyday too. Not anymore.)
     
  11. ms_chandler

    ms_chandler Comrade

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    Jul 14, 2007

    I use composition books (which they buy), and I only make them write on the front of the pages. Each entry must be a page.
     
  12. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Jul 14, 2007

    I do journaling as part of the morning routine, but I alternate every other day with self selected reading. I then do the journaling in the pm with a mini lesson on the reading in am days, and a reading mini lesson and SSR on the journal in the am days. This gives me time to discuss with the kids what I am looking for and how to do the journals. When they come in first thing, we can't discuss it. Also, I have them share in the morning, but not in the afternoon. So we do a mini-lesson twice a week, and student sharing 2x a week.

    I tried a system where I gave each child a dot sticker to put on the front of the composition books. I would collect the red journals one day, then the yellow, blue, green, etc. I found I didn't keep up with this at all! It was too much for me to do each night. Responding to 5 journals a night is a lot.

    I end up writing a note as I listen to them read aloud on the day they share out, then I put it in the journal on a post-it. That way I am only doing a 4-6 a week. Also, I allow the kids to write ongoing stories, and sometimes they have the same piece for serveral weeks. I then hear the work in progress a few times, make comments, and then when we meet to have our conference, I can look back at the comments and we can discuss any changes.
     
  13. hawkteacher

    hawkteacher Comrade

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    Jul 14, 2007

    I don't grade their journals, but I'm sure it would be easy to set up a participation grade for journaling if that's what you wanted to do.

    I guess it just depends on your purpose for the journals. My purpose is to have another way to communicate with my students through writing.
    If your purpose with journals is to have students practice writing with prompts, then maybe you would want to set up some sort of a simple rubric (1 pt each for heading, date, if the prompt was answered, closing?)
     
  14. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    I've used several different types of rubrics over the years. I just wanted to see if anyone had any different ideas. How much weight do you give journals get toward their overall Writing grade?
     
  15. USMCTCHR

    USMCTCHR Companion

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    Jul 14, 2007

    Could you get a large piece of construction paper and have them fold it in half and then staple notebook paper on the inside. You could do nine weeks at a time and then they could take them home after the nine weeks is over and then start a new one. That might make it so it isn't so bulky to take home.
     
  16. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Jul 14, 2007

    I don't grade my journals. This is a time for them to get their thoughts down on paper. My kids love when I respond to them! At the beginning of the year I respond to everyone. Then I break it down and only respond to 4 or 5 at a time.

    By using a spiral notebook you can see the progress they have made in the writing from the beginning of the year to the end.
     
  17. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Do all the children write..? I had an experience with two children who were just off task the entire journaling time and never had many completed entries. Without a grading system, how do you make them accountable?
     
  18. hawkteacher

    hawkteacher Comrade

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    Jul 14, 2007

    All of my kids wrote. Some wrote more than others, but everyone put something down on paper.

    I think it's possible to hold students accountable without a grade. As adults we are responsible for doing many things, most of them without receiving any sort of grade. It's important for students to learn that as well.

    I tell them they WILL write in their journals during journal time and they WILL turn in their journal on their day. It's not a choice.

    If certain students weren't using journal time effectively, I would first talk to them to see how I could help them. Do they need to move to their own spot? Do they need a privacy folder?

    If the problems continued, there would be some sort of consequence. Maybe they would have to journal during recess or some other fun privilege time.
     
  19. michelb366

    michelb366 Comrade

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    Jul 14, 2007

    I grade mine. I give them the equivalent of an assignment grade, but I grade on volume only. At the beginning of the year, I only require 4 sentences. Each quarter I bump it up 2 sentences. I use the $.10 notebooks from WalMart which last all year. A first day activity we do is to illustrate a white paper that shows something about you. The only writing on the cover is their name on the top. I then use clear tape to attach it to their journal covers. I collect all my journals on Friday and take them home to read. I don't want to be tied in during the week to do a certain number each day.
     

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