Journaling Across the Curriculum
Use these elementary journal entry ideas to put daily class work in. They can also be useful to look into journals for work samples when needed. Journals also make handy portfolios to show progress from beginning to end of the year.
It is important to set up your journals for each subject you teach in the same way. Spirals work the best, but a small three ring binder with notebook paper will work too. Have students write the subject area and their names on the cover of the journal. It is also helpful to have students number their journal pages. This will help make finding assignments and grading easier. It is important to do the first few journal activities together so that students can learn your expectations. Keep the journals in your classroom so that they do not get lost.
Grading can be done in different ways. One of the most efficient ways is to grade journals is once per week. Friday is a good choice to do the grading. Pick one or two assignments that have been done during the week. Make sure that the students know what assignments will be graded so that they can be sure to have them completed.
Another option for grading is to have students choose their two or three best assignments over a one or two week time period. Have them write the page numbers of the assignments they want you to grade on a sticky and place it on the inside cover of their journal.
There are other activities besides writing prompts to do for language arts. Spelling words practice and activities are appropriate to put in a language arts journal. Grammar practice is also suitable to put into a language arts journal. Use activities such as types of sentences and parts of speech. Put Daily Oral Language (DOL) activities in there as well.
Reading journals are a good place for reader’s response questions. Have students develop reading skills by using graphic organizers. One bood to read for graphic organizers is 50 Graphic Organizers for Reading, Writing, & More by Linda Irwin-DeVitis, Karen Bromley, and Marcia Modlo. Use these ideas along with novels or even stories from your Literature textbook. Other activities to write in the journal include character development, summary, and story mapping.
A math journal would be the perfect place for a daily warm up. You choose whether to make it cumulative or just cover recently taught material. Daily practice problems should be put in the math journal. Note taking on problem solving strategies can also be placed in the math journal with older students.
Science journals can be used to keep track of science inquiries and experiment notes. This is especially helpful when you want to review different experiments that have been done in a certain unit of study. Science warm ups can easily be done in science journals. Questions from science textbook reading are well placed in the journals. Let the students in the class come up with ten questions to answer per section. Make a quiz that uses those questions and allow students to write in their journals.
Put profiles of important people throughout history in the social studies journals. Use a questioning strategy similar to the science journal when reading social studies text. Have students cut out maps and practice mapping skills when studying geography. Have students take notes about the different regions too.