When my students enter the classroom they have two writing tasks to complete. One is their journal writing. I believe it sets the tone of the morning and gets them focused on language arts. The routine is daily and they understand that they must write. I began with just ten minutes, but they decided they needed more time. Most students now write for approximately 20 minutes.
I did try the new standard of allowing students to write on any topic they wanted to. Confusion about what to write took place, even though in their journals they had ideas written down, posters on the wall about what to write about, and the teacher telling them that they can write about anything they chose. (Ex. What happened last evening or over the weekend.) That took up so much time and thinking. Most children didn’t get a chance to complete anything. The whole process took too long.
So, I decided to go back to where my teaching of 33 years, told me to. I began giving my students daily topics to write about. I noticed that the students seem to write more fluently, when given this, and they actually enjoyed writing in their journals. (This also helps when they are given the Fourth Grade Writing Test.) They don’t need any think time, so the writing flowed and became easier.
Since kids enjoyed the writing, the next normal progression was sharing what they wrote. This has produced a safe environment for even the shyest child. Since they feel free to write, knowing that they will not be judged by their peers, everyone was eager to share. (We even clapped for students when: we enjoyed what they wrote, or a child who had improved, or a student who just tried his/her personal best.) Oral language was developed, and a style of speaking in front of a group.
I always tell my students to revisit their journal writing from previous months to see the tremendous stride they have made in spelling, handwriting, and sentence structure.
Many teachers seem more comfortable providing a daily prompt for students. A prompt may be a sentence to complete, a question to respond to, or even the writing of poetry.
I received this e mail about the writing prompts. What a wonderful idea.
I home school my children and we keep a journal jar. I printed out a few pages of writing ideas and cut them up and put them in a jar they decorated. Each day they pick out a slip with a writing idea on it and write about it. They like it, because picking out of the jar is like opening a present, they never know what they will pick out and it excites them. Shannon from PA
Tips for Writing in a Journal
1. Pick one fun thing to write about.
2. Write about something that happened to you.
3. Use words that will help readers picture what happened.
4. Tell why the event was so much fun.
5. Check your spelling and handwriting.
Hopefully these prompts will motivate your students. Feel free to print this out.
- If I were the teacher, I would.
- If I were a leaf, I would. (snowflake, wind, rain, etc.)
- If I could get anything in the world for my birthday, it would be. (Tell me what you’d do with it.)
- My hero is. (Tell me why.)
- Describe a nightmare that you had recently.
- I remember when _____ taught me to_____. Describe how. (I remember when my father taught me to tie my shoes.) Visit our writing on this.
- A joke that makes me laugh is.
- My favorite foods.
- The foods I dislike are.
- When I grow up I want to be. (Why?)
- Is there an event that took place in your life that has changed you? Tell me how.
- Tell me about your pet (s). If you don’t have any, what kind of pet would you like to have?
- I was most angry when.
- I was most happy when.
- I was most disappointed when.
- My favorite holiday is. Tell me why
- If I looked under your bed, what would I find?
- Describe your perfect vacation.
- My worst mistake was.
- Sometimes I wish that.
- What would you do if you were Principal for a day?
- What would you do if you were the President?
- If you could change places with anyone, who would it be and why?
- You could go anywhere in the world. Where would it be, what would you do, and why?
- You have an extra $1,000,000 to give away; you cannot spend it on yourself. What would you do with the money?
- How would you make this world a better place to live in?
- Tell me about your family.
- Tell me about your best friend. Why is that person your best friend?
- If you were an animal, what kind would you be and why?
- What is silence to you?
- What is your favorite season?
- What is your favorite animal? If you were this animal what would you do? (where does it live, what does it eat, how does it protect itself, etc.)
- What I know about. (Could be anything you are studying, or anything the child knows a lot about)
- My favorite book is.
- My favorite character is.
- If I could be any color in a crayon box, I would be.
- If I were a fireman, I would. (a flag, plant, pencil, box, a book, etc.)
- My favorite movie is.
- Ten things that make me laugh. (cry, make me angry)
- A list of things I’ll never do.
- Ten crazy reasons why I couldn’t do my homework.
- If I were. (mother, father, teacher) I would.
Sent in by Liza Oct. 6, ’04:
If my friend were an alien, we would.
If I were an (animal) I would.
One dark cold night I saw (fictional)
Submitted by Deanne, 19 years old and an aspiring writer. Good Luck, Deanna! Oct. 23, ’05
-When I’m on top of the world.
– What is your favorite day of the week and why?
– Describe your perfect house.
– 10 types of food or dishes I’ve never eaten that I’d like to try
– How do you feel about the holidays?
– What did you do before we had the internet?
– What is the nicest thing you’ve done for someone?
– What would happen if children ruled the world?
– What would you do if you were the teacher and everyone forgot their homework?
– What would happen if you found gold in your backyard?
– How would your life be if you had a pet dinosaur?
Visit Forms of Poetry to add to your writing and visit Our Poetry and Writing .
I do poetry on Friday. I send home the sloppy copy and keep the good copy in a bin. In June, I give back to each individual child their poetry. Then we sort it out according to months and date. When the kids have all of their poetry in order, they make a book called: My Poetry Booklet. They decorate it, and put the teacher and year they did this on the cover. The last page in the book is called: Poetry is. I have a brainstorm session with the kids so they can tell me what poetry was throughout the year. (fun, rhyming, awesome, terrific, a great way to write, etc.) Then they sign everyone’s booklet using one or more words to fill in the blank. Because of the size of the booklet I must use an electric stapler to staple it.
Kids have come back to me throughout my career to tell me that they still remember poetry and they have their poetry booklet tucked away.
Read what one graduate said: http://pmct.org/graduates/alumni/wayne97/index.html
Poetry is a great way to express oneself! It creates a mood and evokes images of nature and beauty. Anyone can do it!
Links for more writing topics.