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1. Have students write for themselves.

“Choose an audience of one,” Spencer advises the students. When they know they are not writing for others to read, students can be bold and creative, and the freedom of the process can result in exceptional writing. “Let them choose the themes, length, style, and focus,” he writes. Treat it less as a chore and more as a tool used to tap creativity and curiosity. Sketch notes, unanswered questions, and bulleted lists have their place in the journal.

2. Don’t limit the journal to the text on a page.

Ask students to use the space to scribble, draw, draw diagrams, and write informally. They could sketch diagrams or pictures of scientific concepts, or “incorporate elements from interactive notebooks by having students cut out elements and tape them together.” Thus, a page of the notebook becomes a short notebook of sheets of paper ».

3. Have students keep their journals organized.

Spencer distinguishes between a journal and an agenda. A journal is often to record fleeting thoughts, but a journal can be a place to investigate these ideas more deeply or to organize them into action items.

Spencer numbers its pages and maintains an index on the back of the newspaper. “Other people,” he writes, “use a left / right side process for their diaries (words on one side and pictures on the other, or notes on one side and reflections that you can check,” he writes. Color coding is another fun and easy way for students to organize their work.

4. Encourage students to “go cheap.”

The journal does not require a fancy notebook. In fact, a more expensive book could lead students to be overly cautious and shy about their writing. “As a teacher, this also means reducing students’ fear and risk aversion,” Spencer writes. “You could make journals a pass or fail task or make them completely optional. You could say, ‘I’m going to look at your journal but I’m not going to rate the content.’ ”

5. Give students time to write regularly.

Have them write daily — the process “doesn’t have to be laborious.” But journal writing doesn’t need to be limited to formal, designated time: Encourage students to keep their notebook and write down ideas as they happen. The goal is for them to accept writing as a spontaneous activity. Encourage students to think of their journal as “a playground.”

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