What Just 10 Minutes of Daily Journaling Can Do for Student Writing

As you have probably already experienced at some point in your teaching career, it can be a major challenge to have your students quietly find their seats and have their materials out, let alone have them complete a warm-up exercise.

‍With seemingly less and less time and more curriculum to cover in class, it’s important to maximize these first few minutes, and that’s why journaling for just 10 minutes at the start of class every day can both eliminate wasted class time and (more importantly) create thinkers and writers.

Benefits of Daily Journaling

‍Daily journaling is an excellent chance for students to conduct a “mental warmup” as well as an opportunity to become reflective and introspective thinkers. Not only does daily journaling eliminate wasted time at the beginning of class, but it also gets students thinking before they even arrive to class.

Knowing ahead of time that they’ll have to produce some piece of writing, whether it’s a few lines of poetry, potential lyrics to a song, a character sketch – whatever it may be – they’ll start thinking! And that’s what you want – thinkers first – and then the writing can fall into place (if it hasn’t already).

‍Just the repetitive practice of journaling each day puts students in a frame of mind to always be thinking, reflecting, and observing.

‍By prompting your students to write a journal entry for 10 minutes each day, you’ll begin to see a variety of benefits:

Students Become More Comfortable with Writing

Journaling creates a safe space for beginning writers, English language learners, and students who just don’t feel comfortable with or excited about writing.

When students are afraid of writing or simply don’t like it, journaling can bridge the gap and move them from just words and phrases (as many reluctant writers will begin with these) to sentences and paragraphs. You can build their confidence by emphasizing that their journal is not graded, nor is it meant to be a collection of polished writings.

‍Tell your students to think of their journals as working spaces to get their thoughts and reactions down on paper. A sandbox, if you will.

‍With this open-minded perspective on the opportunities that the daily journal offers, your classroom can become a community of writers for the sake of writing and without the pressure to create something perfect.

Students Develop Writing Fluency

As with any daily ritual, your students will grow as writers just by getting in the habit of committing words to paper. Giving your students time each day to write will help them grow in literacy and language fluency. Practice, practice, practice!

‍When students create journal entries, they subconsciously build skills in organization, and they refine their voice by finding their written rhythm. This is especially true if they are sharing and responding to their classmates.

Students Generate Ideas for Future Writing Pieces

While students should enjoy writing journal entries about their weekend or musicians that they like, journaling can be just as important from time to time to steer their entries toward any current goals you want your students to accomplish.

‍Whether they be unit goals, specific writing skills, or themes from a work of literature you’re studying, students can be journaling about topics that pertain to what they will eventually write about in higher-stakes assignments or essays.

‍If they write down their thoughts about a novel as they read it, they will have pages of material that is essentially fleshed-out brainstorming. Maybe they will be able to use sentences or an entire paragraph from their journal in that larger assignment or project!

‍Keeping a daily journal provides an outlet for students to create, jot, organize, and share ideas that can serve as stepping stones or early drafts of future writing.

Final Thoughts on Daily Journaling

When implemented effectively, daily journaling can be the most useful low-stakes medium for improving student writing.

‍Because journaling can take so many forms, it is important for you to think about what you want your students to achieve by writing these journals. Just as you would if you were to keep any kind of personal journal, consider what content you want them to have in a written record and for what reason.

‍And of course, tailor your system so that it works best for your unique set of students and the class dynamic. This might mean modifying your prompts, your desired entry length, or your grading system (if any at all!) as you go.

‍You will find that once you find a daily journaling pattern that works for your students, it can be one of your greatest tools for improving your students’ writing – and all it takes is 10 minutes.

Read More

Difference Between Summary and Analysis
When You Ask for Analysis but You Get Summary Instead
It can be a challenge to get students to commit ideas to paper, let alone for them to understand how to write for different purposes or for specific audiences. You might find sometimes that you assign students to write an analysis of something they are reading only to discover that … Read more
creating confident writers
Establishing Confident Writers Through Creativity and Self-Expression
The starkness of a white, blank notebook page can be frightening. Your fingers twitch with the desire for something, anything to just spill out. For the ink to somehow read your thoughts and know exactly where to make the page full. ‍This constant feeling can be a tough cycle to break for … Read more
How to Fix Writer's Block
Brainstorming Through Writer’s Block
Whether we are beginning writers, seasoned writing instructors, or best-selling novelists, writer’s block is bound to plague us all at some point or another, and it is highly likely to show up in the middle school or high school classroom when students are journaling or beginning an essay. ‍No matter … Read more
How to Teach Adverbs
Four Steps to Teaching Your Students Adverbs
Here’s a quick kinesthetic grammar activity to introduce the topic of adverbs.  If you can pair a physical activity with a concept, studies show that retention levels among students increase.  Follow this easy, step-by-step guide to teach adverbs to your students. ‍Step 1: Ask For Two Volunteers ‍Ask for two … Read more
Internal Writing Critic
How to Fire Your Internal Critic
We all have that little voice of doubt inside of us.  You know – the one that’s constantly whispering, “Your writing stinks.  Give up on this draft while you have the chance.  You call yourself a writer?  What a laugh!”  Ah yes…now you know the voice I’m talking about. ‍We … Read more
Benefits of Daily Journaling for Students
What Just 10 Minutes of Daily Journaling Can Do for Student Writing
As you have probably already experienced at some point in your teaching career, it can be a major challenge to have your students quietly find their seats and have their materials out, let alone have them complete a warm-up exercise. ‍With seemingly less and less time and more curriculum to … Read more
How to Achieve Flow in Your Writing
The Four Levels of Flow in Writing: What it Means When Writing Flows
When conferencing with my students regarding their writing, a common request I hear, (usually after some stammering from the student) is, “I want to make sure that my writing flows.” ‍I might follow up by asking the student if he is referring to the flow between his sentences, the flow … Read more
How to correct comma splices
How to Win the War on Comma Splices
Commas have so many uses in the English language that it is no surprise comma splices appear all throughout our students’ writing. We might applaud their efforts for wanting to use this handy piece of punctuation, but when students start using commas willy-nilly and placing them wherever they like, it’s … Read more