Thinking, Living, and Writing About History Get personally involved in history through writing about historical events with these books of thirty interesting journal starters. Each journal starter includes an illustration, a short narrative, and a writing prompt. Each can be used independently to focus on key events and primary sources or can be used as springboards for further research. Student accountability standards require students to write extended responses, and writing is recognized as a critical skill in every subject area. Journaling Through History gives students practice in writing about history and examining primary sources.
Journaling Through History was created to help teachers infuse writing into the history classroom. Most states require some form of extended response assessment on their state tests. These journaling exercises provide practice for students to respond to a prompt and use historic information in an organized manner. Each activity is designed to provide enough information to allow students to write at least a three paragraph journal entry. The activity could also serve as a research starter, allowing the student to study the event further and write a more substantial essay or report on that particular topic.
Here are some suggestions on how teachers can use these journaling activities:
1. Lesson starters or warm-ups: Teachers could hand out the activity at the beginning of the period. Students would read the prompt and then write their journal entry. Depending on the amount of time the teacher wants to devote to this activity, students could share their entries in cooperative groups, with each group critiquing the entry on its historic accuracy and believability.
2, Research prompt: Students are assigned or pick an event to study and write an extended journal entry based upon their research. For most of the events, there are primary source documents available for student to use.
3. Authentic assessment to follow the teaching of the historic event: These journal activities could serve as extended response tests, allowing students to demonstrate the depth of their understanding of important historic events. The teacher should prepare a rubric for scoring the journal entry on historic accuracy and composition.
4. Free writing assignments can be given through the journal activities, allowing students an opportunity to write about an assigned topic or one chosen from the extensive choices provided.
5. A measure of writing progress: These writing assignments can be retained by the teacher, and, as these exercises are repeated throughout the year, they would provide the teacher with a gauge of the student’s writing progress.