I designed these journals as an opportunity for my students to write and build their vocabulary in a fun way. I have used the journals with third, fourth, and fifth graders for many years in my classroom. These journals provide what some call Quick Writes – opportunities to respond briefly to a prompt. The diverse activities in each journal allow the students to generate ideas more quickly as they move through the writing prompts during the year. I always encourage the children to use scrap paper first and then write their revised versions in the journal booklets. The kids are always excited when I introduce each new journal. I always give them to the students on the first school day of the month, and we work on them in and out of class until the last school day of each month. I briefly go through the activities in the entire journal when I first give out the new journals. In this way, the students who are capable may go ahead if they wish to do so.
I have always found that one of the biggest problems with helping students become good writers is their inability to realize that they have anything of value to say. It is my job to convince them that they do. It is so necessary to model writing with your students, but if you share with them your trip to the Grand Canyon, these children sit there and think, “Well, I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon or any place else that is exciting!” You must help them to see that a walk to a nearby park or a short trip to grandma’s can also be exciting and a worthwhile topic.
Whenever I am teaching a particular skill in writing, such as effective introductions and conclusions, or transition words, or effective use of adjectives, I use these quick writes to do so. One day we may concentrate on spelling, while another day we may concentrate on punctuation.
I have provided suggestions for teaching such elements as how to write a haiku poem or how to teach idioms.