Journal Writing


“I hear and I forget.  I see and I remember.  I do and I understand.”

Inspire your learners to engage in personal reflection through the avenue of frequent journal writing.  Within journal writing, students encounter a unique strategy in which they are given opportunity to take control of personal learning through simultaneous reflection and practice of a target language.  Specifically during the journal writing process, students are expected to organize and retain language content (Ludwig, 2016).  Students both reflect regularly upon what they have learned, while also identifying how activities completed in class have assisted learning (Class Journals, n.d.).  Growth in language understanding is recorded and students may receive encouragement from documented progress.

Of course, journal writing can assume various appearances among student learners.  Below are several suggestions for introducing journal writing to your next classroom of learners.

Present Clear Expectations 

Journal activities can have students relating theory to practice or concepts to reality.  Evidence of learning may be revealed, individual insight shared, as well as questions posed regarding course material.  So from the outset be sure to plan specifically what is to be included in each journal.  Plan appropriate feedback and be selective in which journal entries you read.  You could also ask students to either organize and mark entries to be read, or simply select their best entry for you to review (Using Active Learning, n.d.).

Provide Sentence Stems

Provide a sentence stem regarding learning, e.g.: ‘The thing I enjoy most about English is…’ etc.  Then have students compare responses with one another (Class Journals, n.d.).


One-minute papers

Ask students to write for a minute.  Topics can range from something they should have learned in class that day to something that is still not clear.  Perhaps it’s questions, the main point of the lecture, critiques of the ideas being presented, or the part of class that helped them learn more. This can also be an alternative to calling or checking roll so the time is a trade-off.

1) At the beginning or end (or even in the middle) of class, ask students to submit a one-minute paper.

2) To limit the size of the responses in large classes, ask students to write their responses on a 3×5 card.

You or the students can provide feedback during the next class centered around selected questions (Using Active Learning, n.d.).

Dialogue Journals

Engage with your students through writing letters back and forth inside the covers of a real bound notebook.  Initiate conversation, ask questions, and submit entries to one another.


Class journals. (n.d.). Retrieved 2016, from

Using active learning in the classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved 2016, from

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