Learning Journals in the K-8 Classroom: Exploring Ideas and Information in the Content Areas

Learning Journals in the K-8 Classroom: Exploring Ideas and Information in the Content Areas

Learning Journals in the K-8 Classroom: Exploring Ideas and Information in the Content Areas

Learning Journals in the K-8 Classroom: Exploring Ideas and Information in the Content Areas


Learning Journals in the K-8 Classroom is the first comprehensive presentation of how to use academic journals effectively for elementary-level instruction. The text outlines the theoretical foundations for using learning journals and provides step-by-step suggestions for implementing them in every content area and at all levels of elementary instruction.

Learning journals provide resources and support for reading aloud, independent reading, mini-lessons, cooperative study, individual research, workshops, and the portfolio system. The type of interactive writing students do in learning journals helps them explore complex ideas in the content areas, using their own strengths of analysis and response; the journals then become resources for future learning, group discussions, individual conferences, learning assessment, reports, and progress.

Four introductory chapters show teachers how to create their own journals, introduce journals to students, integrate them with cooperative study, and use them for assessment. Additional chapters focus on the individual curriculum areas of literature, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. The text includes sample entries from student journals at all grade levels and in every content area, and appendices of annotated resources to support journaling and interviews with teachers who use journals in their classrooms.


Through the years, teachers in every discipline have used writing to help students practice working with ideas. With the move to integrate writing across the curriculum, there has been an increased effort to introduce logs, journals, and notebooks as ways to help students explore academic subject matter. This book describes some of the ways learning journals are used in elementary classrooms and provides suggestions for using a variety of notebooks to help students at different academic levels respond to information and ideas in the content areas.

The entries from student journals that are found throughout this book come from the pens and pencils, hearts, and minds of students who show joy in learning and great cognitive strengths. They also chronicle the frustration, hope, and celebration of those for whom school learning is a difficult and sometimes tedious challenge. Just as each journal hints at the unique experience of its student creator, each also reveals the context created by individual teachers, whose hopes and dreams for these students are writ large across these pages, in the types of questions students are encouraged to explore and the personal responses that explain, remind, encourage, and cheer throughout.

Learning journals, as described in this book, are designed to provide resources and support for reading aloud, independent reading, minilessons, cooperative study, individual research, and workshops. Journaling best supports an integrated approach to language learning, with opportunities for students to participate in a variety of learning contexts, and it is especially useful in multiage, continuous progress settings. the activities described will be most comfortably used in classrooms that integrate the language arts and use them throughout the curriculum as tools for learning.

Primary teachers who use the project approach will find that journals provide a useful way to collect and organize information, and schools that organize their curriculum to maximize the multiple intelligences of children will find that journals both support and enhance this approach. Teachers who follow a more traditional curriculum arrangement will also find useful ideas for incorporating learning journals into their classroom programs, most specifically in the content area chapters, chapter 3, and Appendix B. the text discussion of learning journals is presented in the following order.

Chapter 1 introduces the idea of learning journals and provides a theoretical foundation for their use in the elementary classroom. Chapter 2 describes how journals are used to explore ideas in the subject areas and support the evaluation of learning. Chapter 3 outlines possible formats, guidelines, and activities to use with learning journals. Chapter 4 contains a model for a teacher's learning journal and describes ways to introduce learning journals to students at various ability and grade levels. Chapters 5 through 9 provide specific ideas for using learning journals to explore literature, language and writing, science, mathematics, and the social studies. Appen-

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