Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tip 34 -- Have Students Keep a Journal

Summary: Make students write.

You can enhance learning by requiring student to keep a reading, thinking, and lecture journal. The goal of the journal is to have students make connections among the various isolated concepts and skills that they learn in other classes. You can use it to see if students are reading and reviewing their lecture notes.

If you choose to have your students keep a journal, how do you grade it?

I use a vertical line or an underline to show that the student writing was accurate. I use squiggly lines to show that the writing was shaky. I use an "X" to show that the student writing missed the mark. I also use "+" when a student makes a good point. I feel no need to comment since this isn't a writing class. I don't grade grammar or spelling. Instead, I focus on exploring the economic concepts.

The use of journals requires students to use evaluation, analysis, and synthesis--higher order thinking skills. The use of a journal will enhance the learning experience and allow students to see the relevance in their course work.

Writing is a skill that is hard to automate and outsource so students add value to their human capital that differentiates them from global competition. Last year, I used a blog for students to comment on articles. I found that each student developed an individual online personality.

When you require students to keep a journal, you are helping to make them competitive. Please share your thoughts on the writing processes you have used in your classes.

About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA.


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