Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Journaling and Sharing Circles
Each morning my students come into the classroom, sharpen their pencils, turn in their homework folders, get a drink and begin writing in their journals. The students write about topics of their own choice (usually Good News!) and know that at the end of journal writing time, they will get into sharing circles for about 5 minutes, read their entries and be questioned (using question words such as who, what, when, where, why and how) by their peers who will want to find out more! As we've practiced being good listeners and questioners and the writing has progressed, the students have challenged themselves to write so thoroughly that their peers will have trouble coming up with a question that wasn't answered in the writing. As a reminder to the students I post a question word poster with pictures that I created. We've been focusing on 3 question words and have color coded them (who - yellow; where - green; when - pink). The students underline the words in their own writing that answer each of these questions in the corresponding color. It really forces them to elaborate a little bit more - extending and adding sentences. Over the next several weeks, we will add more question words to answer in our writing such as "why - blue." Special note - right before we get into our sharing circles, I have the students practice reading what they wrote to themselves. Many find words they inadvertently left out and make the corrections right then - before they start to share with their peers.
I've found that by having the students answer these questions in their own writing, they are better able to answer these questions about the books we read and content we study. In addition, we work on our listening and speaking skills as well as comprehension and writing. Again... a lot of bang for the buck! :)