Awesome response to an assignment!

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by SocWkr-Tchr, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. SocWkr-Tchr

    SocWkr-Tchr Rookie

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    Feb 27, 2009

    I introduced a new assignment to my classes (middle school) today and I got such an awesome response that I just have to share it with others. As I've posted in other posts, I began teaching in Jan and starting mid-year has been a challenge because any change I make I always get, "Mrs. -- didn't do that." So, I expected the same response today when I introduced this new assignment.

    I have spent two weeks gathering paper and putting together journals for all of my students. I made a heading with the the year and grade level and "This journal belongs to..." It has been a lot of work, but I strongly believe in journaling.

    So today I pull out the completed journals and introduce them to my classes. The response overwhelmed me!!! I got so many, "This is the best assignment ever!" "This is awesome!" "You mean we really get to write whatever we want?"

    I told my students that they will be graded on their journals. The beginning of each day we'll spend 10 minutes to journal. They will be graded on their journal, but the grade is purely on their constructive use of the journal time. I will not read them, unless they ask me to, and they will not leave the classroom (because I know that if I let them bring them home then the journals will not make it back to school). I have a filing cabinet that I always keep locked that I'm keeping them in.

    Yes, I know that this is kinda like "Freedom Writers" journals. But it's also kinda like my junior high teacher's journal assignment too. But hey, there's nothing wrong with taking and modifying someone's idea, right?

    Still, my students loved the idea! I was just floored. I even had one student stay after school today because she had a rough day and wanted to write about it in her journal!!
     
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  3. Alex2Eng

    Alex2Eng Rookie

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    Feb 28, 2009

    That sounds amazing. Its good to hear that you can have a little fun with the kids and they respond well to the assignment. Definitely something I would want to look into when I become an English teacher.
     
  4. SocWkr-Tchr

    SocWkr-Tchr Rookie

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    Feb 28, 2009

    Thanks for the reply Alex. I truly support journaling, especially for middle schoolers. I half-way expected the girls to like it but not the guys. But even the guys that in my classes were happy about the assignment. But I stressed that I will not read them. So, of course, I got asked several times, "So can I cuss in it?" "I can say whatever I want?"

    I am going to hold true to my promise that I will not read the journal. I just want to see them writing because I have noticed that in their regular language arts class they do not have to write at all. (I teach special education and struggling general education students who struggle with reading and writing.)

    We have had so many problems in our school lately (over $1,000 damage from vandalism, several fights, stolen cell phones, etc.), and I really think that my students need an outlet. If they're not comfortable talking to someone, then they should have the opportunity to write about it.
     
  5. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Mar 3, 2009

    Great idea. We couldn't do this at our school because we are required to read everything students write in case they write something suicidal for example.
     
  6. SocWkr-Tchr

    SocWkr-Tchr Rookie

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    Mar 3, 2009

    WaterfallLady, how can it be possible to read everything that a student writes?

    Yet, I've noticed that so far my students are wanting me to read what they write. There's been a few that put their journals in their personal folders (which means "don't read"), but many put their journals into the yellow folder (which means "read). I have one student who is writing a story in it, one who writes music lyrics, and several who use is as a "Dear Abby" type of thing where they ask for my advice.

    It already has helped me to get to know some of my students better. I'm so glad that I've done this.
     
  7. Bubblehead

    Bubblehead Rookie

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    Mar 11, 2009

    Students can respond well when you give them a degree of autonomy over their learning. Letting them write anything they want in a daily journal is a fantastic way of doing this. When I read the journals I make a list of common interests the students may have and then try to use them in future lessons. Imagination is the best teaching aid a teacher has. Imagination, a pair of scissors, some paper and glue that is.
     
  8. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Mar 11, 2009

    I think this is a great idea! I do something similar for my youner kids called the "end of the day" journal...they can write in it about anything they want- something thats bothering them, what they did over the weekend, etc. One became very important when a student wrote about being abused. It's an awesome assignment because it allows them to be themselves but it allows you to get to know them. I hope it continues to be successful!
     

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