I give this journaling sheet to students on the first day of class. I like to give them a chance to pause, reflect, and process when they're being bombarded with syllabi and new information in all of their other classes. I can compare their first language writing abilities to their English abilities, and I also get my first writing sample to help determine their English level.
If I get a new student at any point in the year (it happens all the time) I can give them this sheet before I have a chance to give them a placement test. It's a very open-ended journal, but it gives me a good idea of how the students are adjusting to the new school.
I keep the directions very brief on the paper because I find that showing them an example works much better.