Using Journals to Help Build Teaching & Learning Communities in Classrooms

Vanessa Brown


Journaling in the classroom can be purposeful and related to the fulfillment of academic and personal needs. Journaling can help students to:

  • Focus their thoughts
  • Concentrate on a particular reading/writing assignment
  • Provide a place to record and organize reactions to readings or to generate new ideas

In establishing and maintaining community in the classroom, journals can serve the very important purpose of enriching the social context of the classroom and constructing and establishing social identities and relationships.

Enhancing Social Context

  • Anchors relationships with peers
  • Witnesses different learning styles
  • Gives voice to different perspectives
  • Builds a cross bridge between the public and the private

    Constructions of Social Identities and Relationships

  • Students define, establish and convey their “selves," roles or persona via writing
  • Students can experiment with alternative voices associated with a range of different identities

Journals can be used across the curriculum and for a variety of purposes. They can be useful in fulfilling a number of reading, writing, listening and speaking standards.

I generally do not mark journal entries in regard to mechanics. I do, however, write brief narrative comments to students regarding content, fluency and focus. For report card grading, students earn points for journal entry updatedness, that is; having a completed entry for each day assigned.

...students can experiment with alternative voices associated with a range of different identities....

Refer to: C. Ansen and R. Beach's "Purposes for Using Journals" and "Journal Writing in the English Class."