I view a writing journal as a place where students can safely take risks, experiment with new vocabulary, sight words, spelling words, grammar skills, and writing techniques. It is not my journal, but the student's and becomes more of a writer's notebook as the year progresses. I do not grade journals, but I do monitor them, walking around the room as my littles are writing and will have students bring the journal to Guided Writing or Writer's Workshop conferences. I want students to have an invested interest and complete ownership of the journal. If I provide too much structure and hover over their every writing move, I will not accomplish this goal.
The journal, without me formally grading the entries, provides an effective assessment tool. When I conference with a student or when I casually glance at entries, I can discern strengths and weaknesses. For example, if I give students a prompt, I may also ask students to use a word or words from our word wall, a few spelling words, or for older kids a metaphor. This is better than any test! For, if my goal in teaching students spelling words is for students to use the word correctly and spell it accurately in their writing (applying the skill), the journal provides a much more authentic assessment tool.
Making the journal fun is a must! I like to give my students fun, motivating prompts and also allow for free writes. When I taught the intermediate and middle grades, I always had a "Free Write Friday", which was wildly popular with students because they had complete choice in what they would write about that day. These free write days also allowed me to see which students struggled with choosing a topic to write about and allowed me to address this in Guided Writing groups or in Writer's Workshop.
With all of this in mind, I created my August and September writing prompts packets for students in grades kindergarten to second.
This set has you covered for one prompt a day plus extras for the whole month of September, which just happens to be Chicken Month! In the packet, you will find (24) writing prompts with various writing formats such as writing words in a thought bubble, informative writing, making a list, labeling a picture, how to writing ("This is how I make a cheeseburger" for National Cheeseburger Day!), narrative writing, and opinion/persuasive writing. All prompts in this packet are in black and white to save you ink and to allow students to color.
In addition, you will find a free write/ free choice page that you can use as many times as you want. You also find stationery sheets done in color for your own writing prompts or to use if you have students take one of the writing prompts to final copy.
I have a FREEBIE for you! Click here to download a sample page from my packet. It is an opinion prompt for Chicken Month that I think you and your students will love!
How do you use writing journals in your classroom? Leave a comment and share your ideas!