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  1. Journal Teaching Strategies

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    Journal writing is an excellent form of self-expression. Journals are a way students can process their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and emotions on paper. In this article you will learn how to incorporate journal writing into the classroom, as well as a few guidelines students should follow when keeping a class journal.

    The Concept of Journaling

    Journal writing has been used for many years in classrooms all over the world. Teachers use journaling in the classroom as a way for students to reflect upon their thinking, and connect information that they know, with what they learned.

    For years, research has shown that journal writing is therapeutic, can help people reflect on their thoughts, and also deal with their emotions.

    Journal writing also offers students the opportunity to have a place where they don’t have to worry about their spelling and grammar, and be accepted as a writer without criticism. Although journals are never graded for grammar, they are known for helping students become better writers. This goes with the theory of “learn by doing.” When a child writes frequently, he or she gains fluency, which gives them the chance to practice important skills that can make them a better writer.

    How to Incorporate Journals into the Classroom

    Journals are a great way for teachers to see what their students are thinking, and they can be an excellent assessment tool as well. Here are a few ways you can incorporate journal writing into the classroom.

    • Use journals as a class start-up activity. When students enter the classroom, allow them time to reflect upon a personal goal or issue. They can also use their journal to respond to a writing prompt that is on the front board.
    • Summarize opinions before or after instruction. Give students the opportunity to write about their ideas, experiences, and what they know about the topic before you teach it. Journals can also be used to reflect upon what students have learned about the topic after it has been taught.
    • Create a personal journal. Personal journals allow students the freedom to write about whatever they wish. They can express their feelings, opinions, and emotions about any topic that interests them.
    • Create a dialogue journal. Dialogue journals are interactive journals between the teacher and student. Teachers can comment on what the student writes, and vice versa. This is a great way for teachers to learn about their students, while students get the opportunity to express themselves to their teacher in an informal way.
    • Double entry journal. Use a double entry journal to improve students’ comprehension, and help them organize their thoughts. To create this type of journal, have students fold their paper in half. Then on the left side of the paper have them write down a phrase or sentence. On the right side of the paper is where they write their reaction to that passage.

    Journal Guidelines

    Have students following the guidelines below when keeping a journal in class.

    • If you are having trouble thinking about what to write in your journal, think about what you would possibly write as a status update on a social media site. Use this as your starting point.
    • Journals are not meant to be published. Remember that this is a place where you can explore your thoughts and ideas without any concern of someone’s criticism.
    • If you like to write stories, or poems, it is OK to write them in your journal.
    • It’s OK to break all of the rules in spelling and grammar. There is no right or wrong way to write something in your journal.
    • If you don’t know how to spell a word, use this time as a learning strategy. Write the word as best as you can, or underline the word that you think you misspelled.
    • Write with a pen, marker, colored pencil, or whatever it is that you like. You can also add a drawing if you want to enhance your journal entry.
    • Date each journal entry, and write in your journal every day.
    • It’s OK to go back and revise or add on to a journal entry if you feel you need to add a detail.
    • If you feel comfortable, be willing to share your journal entry with a friend, or classmate.
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  2. 12 Reasons to Be Thankful You Are a Teacher

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    Teaching is not a profession known for instant gratification. Sometimes, we teachers can feel completely unappreciated. Dubbed a “thankless job”, teaching comes with many daily challenges. Grading, meetings, more grading, planning and the seemingly hundreds of tasks we are charged with can make us feel frustrated and burned out.  More... Comment
  3. How to Motivate a Negative Teacher

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    by Joe A. Martin, Jr., Ed.D. A teacher recently wrote me requesting advice on how to keep herself motivated. Here are some quick suggestions on self-motivation: 1. Hang around other self motivated teachers…it’s contagious. 2. Make a “FIRE STARTER” list about what motivates you (internally). 3. Keep your FIRE STARTER... Comment
  4. What Do Teachers Make?

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    by Taylor Mali he dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued: “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?” He reminded the other... Comment
  5. Socratic Teaching

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    The oldest, and still the most powerful, teaching tactic for fostering critical thinking is Socratic teaching. In Socratic teaching we focus on giving students questions, not answers. We model an inquiring, probing mind by continually probing into the subject with questions. Fortunately, the abilities we gain by focusing on the... Comment
  6. THE LEADERSHIP TRAP

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    Are you a high-performing leader working full tilt to make your dreams come true? And have you ever been weighed down by any of the following experiences? You’ve been thrown for a loop—by the actions of others or by your own mistakes—and the resulting snafu was surprisingly gut-wrenching. You’ve tried... Comment

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