Journaling as a skill for students helps children express themselves, and supports their ability to organize their ideas and thoughts in a structured and more clear way. Journals reflect the students’ ideas, opinions and interests. Put together, it provides them with a collection of their writing in one place about a range of topics. It can also be used by teachers to look at the use of vocabulary by the students and areas of potential strength and weakness, which then informs decisions as to the areas to focus on to round out their learning. Not to mention it helps develop student creativity, boost their confidence, emotional intelligence and helps with the overall achievement of goals.
OYIS Saturday implemented the use of a ‘Journal’ for Elementary students this year as a new concept. The primary idea behind its implementation was to provide the students with the opportunity to use the content they have been using in class in their written work. Whilst before they were learning content there were limited opportunities to use the knowledge. The focus we place on phonics and sight words is important, but needs development through in-context use that comes from the provision of an outlet (such as a weekly Journal writing exercise) to demonstrate their learnt knowledge.
The students are also continuing to explore new ideas and concepts through the Theme-Based work they are doing in their workbooks each week. These ideas and concepts provide a fantastic springboard on which the students can then add to. Through using the content they are covering in class by the use of sentence starters, the students can use the knowledge they have gained about the topic and expand upon it. For example, if the students are learning about Celebrations, the sentence starter could be ‘My favorite celebration is ______ because ______.’ The students are then provided with a sample answer, to support them – for example ‘My favorite celebration is my birthday because I get lots of presents.’. This way, they have a start point from which they can grow their ideas further.
Information has been provided for OYIS Saturday Parents and Caregivers [also available here] about how they can support their children at home with Journal. It is a skill that we have been working on in class and can be quite challenging for students. The important thing to remember is that all writing is a process. Different students relate to it differently, but as long as we continue to provide support for them both in class and at home (through supporting parents and caregivers) their writing skills will continue to develop.