Basketball players don't show up to a game without practicing; same can be said for figure skaters to a competition, dancers to a show, runners to marathon. I stress to my students that this truth applies to writing. It is invaluable to practice, practice, practice all forms of writing. This is where in-class journaling comes in. It gave the chance for students to practice various types of writing and for them to be exposed to various media (quotes, poetry, informational text, art, music videos, etc.)
I have provided various sets of journals that I used when teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth grade language arts. This is set one of nine for sixth grade; all nine sets should take them through the entire school year.
Each student had a separate composition notebook that was only used for in-class journaling. I required each journal to be on its own page and for students to include the date; this helped with grading.