Do you correct your students' journals?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by TulipsGirl, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    Jul 24, 2009

    I've been thinking about our journal writing time in first grade, and I struggle between making corrections in their journals or not. Here are my thoughts about this and I'd love to hear what you all think/do, especially in first grade.

    1) I think that a huge benefit of journal writing is that students become comfortable with putting their thoughts down on paper. This comfort and ease can become inhibited when they feel that their every word will be marked up in ink by their teacher.

    2)Another benefit of journal is that students learn and practice the mechanics of writing, punctuation, grammar, spelling etc. Considering that this is first grade, journal writing is their main chance to practice this skill in their writing. If they don't practice punctuation, capitalization etc now, (with corrections, and proofreading marks) when will they ever learn it??

    3) Spelling is different than punctuation. Punctuation is pretty predictable, whereas inventive spelling is very acceptable in first grade as long as they use the sounds that they hear. I don't correct much spelling as long as it makes sense.

    4) I don't want to send home a journal at the end of the year that is marked up on every page, but is it better that they don't learn these skills?
     
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  3. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jul 24, 2009

    I truly believe that the kids should have some outlet where they don't have to be intimidated to use a big word because they do not know how to spell it. I never correct journal writing (in Kinder I don't really ever correct their writing-I may go over something with them in a writer's conference they could do next time to make it better or make a word a spelling word if I see numerous kids making the same mistake-pezu for pizza for example).

    I think if you are working on those skills daily in your lessons it will transfer over to their writing. My kids also write something on paper every day in addition to their journal writing-they get double practice that way.
     
  4. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    Jul 24, 2009

    First off -- it is "students' journals," not "students journals."

    Okay, how did that make you feel? Like not writing anymore?

    Sorry about how I tried to get the point across, but it was a teaching tool waiting to happen :)

    These are just little kids. Many of them are just learning to master holding the pencil correctly. I think you are right in assuming you should be flexible.

    Punctuation comes on down the road. Let's not stifle their creativity just yet :)
     
  5. Ilovefirst

    Ilovefirst Comrade

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    Jul 24, 2009

    I totally understand the points you have made TG. My team typically doesn't mark up a kiddo's writing even if it's going into the hall. Our K teachers all write the word spelled correctly over the child's writing when it's something going on the wall. I don't know if they do this in their journals or not. My kiddos write in their journals as well as write during writing time (after a mini lesson). We have been using Lucy Calkin's books on writing and this summer I read Kid Writing. (I noticed in Kid Writing they do correct spelling.)
    I always find myself torn on whether or not to correct the spelling. I don't correct it in their journals though. Typically, I focus them on getting the thought onto paper.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
  6. Iteach782

    Iteach782 Comrade

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    Jul 24, 2009

    I think there should be more opportunities for writing in the classroom besides journal writing. I feel that correction should be made during those other opportunities, while also having mini lessons on grammar, punctuation, etc. I do not correct my students' journals. My students definitely make mistakes in their journals, but by the end of the year, I always notice significant improvements.
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jul 24, 2009

    I would not correct their journals.
     
  8. tarkle21

    tarkle21 Rookie

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    Jul 24, 2009

    This is something I've always been a little confused about too. Now I've never had an experience in a grade lower than third grade. I can understand when the children are first beginning to really sit down and write [K-2], a teacher should beware of making too many corrections.

    However, when you get up into 3rd grade, shouldn't teachers be getting a little more picky about a student's writing? Most of y'all have been speaking about first and Kindergarten, so that's why I bring this up.

    I did my student teaching in sixth grade, and I must say, I was very shocked at my students' writings. It's probably a combination of things [the internet, texting, etc.], but I just feel as if maybe our thoughts of being too afraid of not wanting the students to enjoy writing if we correct it too much has ultimately led to them unable to write to the best of their abilities.

    Just my thoughts. Take them as you wish. :)

    Edit: I see that their journals are considered to be for their eyes only and just a way for them to get more writing in, not just as a grade but for the experience. I guess I'm speaking more about having more graded opportunities, or something to that effect, where they can see what they should be doing but letting them know how they write in their journals, that's exclusively for them to do with what they please.
     
  9. jenejoy

    jenejoy Companion

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    Jul 24, 2009

    Ok here is my opinion for what it is worth for K/1st though 3rd, I don't have experience above 3rd so can't speak to that.
    In believe that "teacher writing" is an important learning skill that helps students recognize their errors and fix them accordingly. It must not be overly used though in any grade. Typically during writing conferences I would choose one skill that I wanted a child to focus on (may not be a skill the rest of the class need focus on, might be!). I make corrections for that skill and I'm up front with the child that they may find more corrections they want to make later but for know this is what I would like them to work on. Often times as I reread their story outloud they will stop me and ask me to fix a mistake that they can hear but not necessarily see in a jumble of print. As for journals, these are theirs. I do not, nor will I ever correct a journal unless a child comes up and asks me a direct question. Even then I will lead them to the answer so they can fix it for themselves. In my view journals are a means to practice what they have been taught, not a time to teach. Correction is necessary as we are teaching students to work through the writing process, which without the editting/reworking there wouldn't be a process.

    As for the big words...a trick I taught my students is that as they are writing they need to write whatever word pops into their head. If they aren't sure it is spelled correctly or used correctly they just circle it and move forward. This makes it easier for them to come back and identify the word in their revising. They can look it up, ask for help or whatever it takes to determine if the word works in their writing during the revising process. I also utilize pair conferencing in the writing process. After my students have written their rough draft and done their own revising they take it to 2 different students to read and comment on. Students are told not to make any marks on anothers paper, as do I, without first asking permission. I think that also impowers (empowers? I'd circle this!) the author to accept or decline the suggestion. I hope this helps.
     
  10. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    Thank you all so much for your opinions and suggestions. You've given me a lot to think about as I restructure my writing lessons! I have a few more questions about your posts, but I'll have to post a little later when I have more time. Just wanted to take a minute to thank you all... Keep the suggestions and thoughts coming!
     
  11. kidsr#1

    kidsr#1 Companion

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    When my students journal write I read their journals and will underline words that are consistently misspelled. I will make comments about interesting parts or great ways of writing something. My students also underline the words that they do not know how to spell. I have them do this during journal writing and rough draft writing. This helps to keep the words flowing and allows them to go back and correct their spelling if we need to.
     
  12. tarkle21

    tarkle21 Rookie

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    Jul 24, 2009

    I never thought about having the kids underline or circle parts of their sentences or words they don't understand. That's a great suggestion! That sounds like an awesome way to get those corrections in without having to make their papers bleed. I will also keep this in mind for my future classroom.
     
  13. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Jul 24, 2009

    I've been teaching 2nd grade during summer school and the kids write in a journal. I started to make corrections and I noticed the kids feeling intimidated so I decided to take note of common spelling/grammar errors and incorporate it in a daily edit. I put the daily edit on the board after lunch. I've only had my kids for a month and I have seen an improvement in spelling/grammar.
     
  14. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I think it is important to make the distinction between journal writing and writing prompts. Editing and revising are not part of the journal writing process, they are stages of the writing process.

    Don't correct journals.

    If you want to use writing samples to teach, try making it a self directed activity. When I conference with students who are having difficulty remembering to capitalize the first word in a sentence, for instance (on a writing sample, not a journal entry) I often have them pick up a yellow crayon, and ask them to color in the first letter in the first word of the sentence. We do all the first letters together and then we go back and discuss how all the yellow letters need to be capital letters. Another time, we use the orange crayon at the end of each sentence -- there should be a period, question mark, or exclaimation point there. It makes it hands-on and fun rather than a child getting a paper back with lots of red marks on it. Somehow, because the child is the one "finding" the mistakes, it makes it less threatening. Of course, if every first letter they color in yellow is capitalized and every end has punctuation colored orange, they feel wonderful!
     
  15. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Jul 25, 2009

    I think providing FEEDBACK on how they are DEVELOPING their writing skills (or any other skill you'd like to look for--- use of vocabulary, clarity of the writing, using sentence structure, content if you're letting them write about science or history, etc) is a great idea! We use science notebooks in my class and I'm currently developing a rubric that I can use (maybe a second, simpler version for students to grade each other's work) that shows how they are progressing. Since I assess around 70 of them at a time, I need an easier way of providing feedback--- I don't actually give any grades in my class though so I can get my kids to really focus on quality without slapping a letter on to it.

    What you can then do is do a rubric at the beginning of the school year and then one towards the end and show the student and parent how she or he has progressed.

    I also try avoiding writing in their notebook--- If I have something to say I use stickies and write down the page number they belong to (in case they fall out). I care about what they are thinking and I want them to know I care enough about their work that I do want to through out some more questions or ideas for them to think about. I avoid saying "This idea is wrong" and stick to a question that might help get them to clarify their thinking.
     
  16. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    Aug 9, 2009

    So my school doesn't really have a very structured writing curriculum for first grade... So I'm spending time now to really map out my writing lessons. I'm using all of your suggestions to differentiate between the writing lessons we will have and journal writing time.

    Journal will primarily be used to help them get the hang of getting their spontaneous thoughts on paper, while (hopefully) integrating the mechanics they've learned during our writing lessons. But I will not be making corrections in them like I have in the past. that will be reserved for our separate interactive writing lessons.

    My next question might be a kind of silly, but how are your writing lessons structured? For example, after an interactive lesson about puntuation, do you provide a prompt, with the goal being to focus on punctuation? Isn't that similar to providing a prompt for a journal entry? Or do your lessons vary much more than that? I'm looking for creative ways to practice these skills...

    Here are some of the topics I will focus on:
    capitalization of beginning of sentence
    capitalization of proper nouns
    ending punctuation
    sounding out hard words that you don't know how to spell yet
    full sentences
    spaces between words
    verbs
    nouns
    adjectives

    Any of these remind you of a fun activity/lesson you've done that you can share?
     
  17. flyingmickey

    flyingmickey Rookie

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    Aug 9, 2009

    I don't mark journals. I use journals as an extra activity for when you are finished other work. I assign them once a week but some kids do write in them everyday.
    I read them once a week and sometimes suggest that the topic is used in writing workshop. Verbally, I will tell students when I've noticed that they are including new skills in their journals. I read them during DEAR and talk to the students then.
     
  18. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I worked with a teacher in the past that waited until the second half of first grade and then she started doing peer editing. We have a small class so this is how it worked:

    Each student's journal page is scanned and when their page is up on the smartboard, they stand up and read it. Then the student will call on 3 people to make a positive comment. Teachers also model making a positive comment. Then the student calls on 3 people to ask questions. Typically the child has written about an experience and the children will ask more questions about it (not a reflection on the writing necessarily but rather a dialogue expansion of it). The teacher also models how to ask good questions. Then the student will call on 3 people for revision suggestions. The child makes the revision on the smartboard and the file is saved. This way children learn HOW to revise work but there is a lot of focus on praising and asking questions that by the time it gets to the critique, it is not a bad thing. This was only done with one journal entry per week. The students LOVED IT. Keep in mind this came mid-year, only occurs once a week and the teacher started out with the first skill (praising), then added the next skill (questions) then finally the last skill (revisions).
     
  19. **Mrs.A**

    **Mrs.A** Comrade

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    Aug 9, 2009

    No, I don't correct journals...I tell the kids they are rehearsing in their notebooks. I just want them getting their ideas down on paper and not worry about making mistakes.
     
  20. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Aug 9, 2009

    I don't correct personal journals. Think of it as a diary. Do you want someone correcting your diary? It's personal writing, for the express purpose of getting ideas on paper.
     
  21. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Tulip,

    After teaching a lesson, we have other things to practice writing and assess skills. We have daily edits that are a part of our morning work. We go over it daily (and I make sure it matches the skills we are learning in the writing lesson.) Journals are a way to practice the composing aspect of writing -- not necessarily the nuts and bolts of grammar. We also do writing prompts, but again, these are not a part of our daily journals. I give two journal prompts each day, and students select one and write about it.
     
  22. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    Aug 9, 2009

    Oh Missy, Missy, Missy. :p
    Good points! :)
    I'll be doing journaling this year too, and I never even considered doing any corrections.
     
  23. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I will check to ensure that the student is actually writing journal entries, and sometimes I'll even respond with comments of interest ("Really? That's fabulous!" or "How creative!" and such), but I do not correct journal entries. Published writing, however, is a different matter. At the beginning of the year, I will help them with writing out corrections. As they become more fluent, I might point out errors and have them correct them, or even say something like "Does that sound right to you?" That works well for all but my lowest students (who were still non-readers).
     
  24. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    Aug 9, 2009

    .
     
  25. love2teach

    love2teach Enthusiast

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    I don't correct journals, but I DO READ journals. I will mark with a smile, star or upbeat comment. Students do feel comfy knowing that the work is not judged and will not have "grown up writing" all over it.
    However, students often express themselves through pictures and words. I have learned a lot about my students through journals and have even brought things to parents and school psychologists attention because of what was written in journals.
     
  26. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    I always bring the student journals to SST (intervention) meetings. They have a lot of useful information and a great way to show growth (or lack of) throughout the year.
     

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