Free-Write Journals

As promised, I made a change in my classes to see if I could alleviate some of the problematic behavior choices. I am happy to report we are making progress!

Students have nature journals we made at the beginning of the year. We had not used them much until now. Our new daily start of class is a free-write entry into these nature journals.

Here is how it works: I provide a prompt on the board and students start class by responding to the prompt. There are only a few rules:

1. They must write for the entire time (4-5 minutes). I tell them to keep pencil to paper the whole time, even if that means they repeat words or phrases until a new idea pops.

2. No swear words. I don’t read the entries, but I tell them that as I walk around I can see the words. *This is just my rule.

3. No talking. The journaling process seems more effective when it is quiet so I ask for silence.

This week I used the following prompts, one per day:

Today is Monday and I feel ____ because . . . (I used this one a few times).

One thing I have accomplished this week is . . . I am still working on . . .

One thing I know for sure is . . .

After the journaling, I asked if anyone wanted to share. I was surprised when a few students wanted to share in each class. Some of the insights were eye-opening, truly eye-opening. I will not read these entries, though part of me really wants to, but hearing from those that share I know they are getting something out of this. Maybe once per week I will offer an option to free-write directly to me in case they want me to know. We shall see.

Big question – has this new start changed behavior choices in class? The jury is still out. I think these things take time and I am liking what I am seeing so far. I am seeing improvement but we are a work in progress. 🙂

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