I LoVe for my students to keep a journal and write in it every day. Every year I get away from doing this because there is just so much to teach, but I always end up coming back to it. This year, in an effort to keep more in line with our writing curriculum, I began by having the kids draw a picture and write a few sentences about a past event in their lives. The kids were not showing any enthusiasm towards journaling, and I quickly realized this just wasn't hitting what I believe journaling is all about. So...this past Friday I reverted to my "old" ways and talked with the kids about using their classroom journal as a place to write down whatever they would like to write about any given day. One of my students immediately looked excited and said, "You mean like a diary?" I said that was exactly what I meant and got a chorus of cheers! I was quite taken aback to discover my students couldn't wait to begin writing and were even more excited when I told them they didn't have to draw pictures!
We brainstormed as a class things we could write about - the kids' ideas were amazing. We listed things such as: our dreams, things we hope for, things we are happy/sad/mad about, places we'd like to go, what we'd like to do with our friends, our family, our favorite books plus many more. It was decided that we would date and draw a line after each entry so that we could write about more than one thing each day if we want to.
I am so happy that my students look forward to journal time and don't want to stop writing. They are taking out their journals to begin our day and any time they can after that. They are writing about things that matter to them. Some share out loud, some don't... and that's ok. Some just want to share with me. The best part is that the kids have an outlet for their feelings and thoughts, and I get to see wonderful, heartfelt authentic writing.