13 July 2015

Using Class Journals During Work on Writing

I went to my classroom for the first time this summer last Thursday, and I was absolutely exhausted afterward. My fabulous co-teacher and I had a goal to get all of the furniture arranged by the time we left for the day, and it ain't pretty...but we got it done!

Here's a quick look at a before and after (we had a partition between our rooms that we opened up to have one large room since we'll be co-teaching):
Like I said, it's not pretty, but now that the furniture is in place, we can start getting things organized, put away, and DECORATING!!! I can't wait to show you all that we have planned!

Today I'm not talking about classroom (although there will be a post dedicated to my 2015-2016 classroom soon enough) arrangement, organization, and decor. I'm talking about WRITING! Specifically, using class writing journals during Work on Writing.
Writing is tough. I've taught 2nd and 4th grades, and both grades struggle with writing. I'm going to assume it's not just those grades those.

I've learned that the more opportunities student have to write, the better! My students get lots of opportunities throughout the day to write --- morning work, writer's workshop and work on writing have big writing focuses, while other subject areas incorporate writing as well.

Work on Writing is one of the components of Daily 5. During this time, students can continue to work on something they were writing as part of writer's workshop, they can choose to start something completely new, choose from an idea bank (poem, song, rap, letter, postcard, list, etc...), or they can choose from one of our Class Journals.
Our class journals are by far the most popular choice during work on writing! There have been FIGHTS over these things. Ok, maybe not fights, but there's certainly a little disappointment when all the journals have been scooped up, and a student has to wait for the next round of D5, before being able to choose a class journal.

In the past, I've had about 10 class journals that basically stay the same throughout the entire year. Eventually, the kids get bored with them. This year, I decided to create class journal topics that cover the 3 different genres of writing we teach: narrative, informational, and opinion. Plus, an additional fictional narrative set of class journals for more "creative writing."
Since we start with narrative writing, I'm starting with the narrative class journals, although by the time the 3rd nine weeks rolls around, students will be able to choose across different genres, which I'm hoping will help keep the genres we're not currently focusing on fresh in their minds.

I chose the first 3 topics that will be in the work on writing area, but students will be able to vote on other topics they want to have included. I started by laminating the covers for 2 reasons --- first they'll hold up better, but the best reason is that it means I can just peal them off the cover at the end of the year, and use them again next year! #savethecoloredink!!!Here's what they look like:
I'm using composition notebooks because I think they hold up a little better than spirals, but it's just a matter of personal preference.

Next, I used REAL glue (not the stick kind) and glued on the covers (you could also use hot glue if you laminated them), as well as the "ideas" and "word ideas" page.

Each "ideas" page has a few sentence starters, as well as words students may either want to know how to spell, or that might help get those creative juices flowing! I left blank spaces because students will want to know how to spell other words that might pertain to a specific location, school, or just commonality among your students (Six Flags Over GA), that don't necessarily pertain to every single classroom.
Included in each class journal writing genre are 10 topics, plus a blank cover that can be used to create your own topics, or that the class can add. By the time we add in opinion topics, we'd have 30 different journals though, and I think that might be a tad overwhelming. I'm thinking 5-7 journals in each genre is plenty, hence the voting.
If you're planning on using class journals, I made this cute label for the container where we house our class journals. You can grab it for FREE :)

For more great ideas, tips, and tricks from True Life I’m a Teacher, be sure to follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Bloglovin’ and Teachers Pay Teachers.

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