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Journaling

Description of Activity: Students write a continuous journal of activity, usually guided by instructor prompts. As the term progresses, these journals will be continuously updated, allowing for a personal history of learning.

Appropriate Content Areas: Can be used in most subject areas. Especially useful in humanities, writing, and sciences.

Example:
Communications 

Goals & Objectives:

The core components of journaling objectives include but are not limited to:

  • Journals focus students
  • Journals help develop the instructor-student relationship
  • Journals enhance interactivity
  • Journals can reduce student isolation
  • Journals built intrapersonal skills
  • Journals motivate for the building of writing skills
  • Journals may be used simply to improve student writing ability too

Prerequisites:

None.

Materials and Resources:

What needs to be prepared in advance by the teacher? The instructor will need to provide a program to journaling software.

What does the student need to bring to the lesson? An openness to share through journaling

Guiding Questions for this Activity:

What do the students feel, comprehend, and have an ability to articulate about the given topic? How do these feelings, comprehensions, and abilities change as the journal progresses?

Activity Outline and Procedure:

  • The journal activity is initially described within the syllabus with appropriate assessment information and purpose.
  • An appropriate forum or program is provided or required to be accessed by the students where they can submit their journal entries. Preferably, this program will allow the journal to be added to, rather than a new independent post being required for each journal entry.
  • Within the same journal preferably, the instructor provides continual feedback to the student regarding journaling activity and content.
  • An assessment of some form is linked to the journal. The points can be supplied as the journal progresses or at the end.
  • The instructor may use journal comments to modify instruction as well.

Teaching Strategies:

  • Start the journal early to help foster a relationship between the student and instructor.
  • Provide immediate feedback, and make the feedback pertinent, otherwise, the students will not make their posts pertinent.
  • Provide some form of credit for completing the activity.
  • Provide questions that students can address in their journals.

Accommodations:

What accommodations may be needed for students with disabilities or other special needs? Probably none. Most disabilities have technology allowing text entry; however, any software used should be appropriately tested.

Timeline:

While an individual journal entry may only take 10 to 20 minutes to compose, the activity usually continues throughout a semester.

Ideas for Activity Evaluation and Teacher Reflection:

End of semester evaluations should ask about the usefulness and learning accomplished through such activities. Also, the responses in the forum will help guage how the students are enjoying various aspects of the activity.

Each required journal entry can be assessed or the journal as a whole can be assessed summatively, however, continual formative assessment of the journal cna be considered more effective.

Additional Readings:

Here is a brief listing to get you started reading more about educational journaling.

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