Focus on Self-Expression Not on Correct Answers
Years ago a wonderful mentor of mine instructed me to teach kids to write without regard to spelling, function or form. He suggested that when a child feels the freedom of self-expression through writing that they will naturally learn to love the structure of writing and, in turn, will learn how to spell.
If, however, the emphasis of the writing activities is on correct spelling and grammar many children will shy away from writing altogether because of the fear that they will not deliver the “correct” answer.
Having said this, I suggest that you mix up your journaling activities. Make some of them free of any expectations of spelling or form or function. Make others more structured and guided. To help you, I suggest the following journal writing ideas.
Journal Writing Ideas
Journal Writing Ideas Innovation #1 –
Introduce a famous quote and have the children copy it into their journal. Then, discuss why that quote is so inspirational. Does it have correct spelling, form and structure? Explore qualities and traits about the person who is being quoted. Does the child want to be like the person? If so, why? If not, why?
Journal Writing Ideas Innovation #2 –
Find appropriate song lyrics of an artist the children all know. Discuss the creative expression of the artist. Did s/he use proper spelling and grammar? Why do the students like the lyrics? How do they imagine the artist writing the lyrics? Did they realize that the lyrics were written? Can they write some song lyrics of their own? Can they write a letter to the artist and if so would it be better to use proper grammar and spelling? Why or why not?
Journal Writing Ideas Innovation #3 –
Assign a journaling activity using only texting shorthand (the language of so many kids today). Let them express themselves and maybe even stump you, but insist that they educate you on the meaning of the texts, just as you educate them! Discuss the differences between texting shorthand and proper grammar. Explore when it’s appropriate to use which form of writing and why. Do not discuss right or wrong, rather explore the differences and the benefits and drawbacks of each writing style.
Journal Writing Ideas Innovation #4 –
Ask the kids their ideas for journaling. You could do this once a week, or every other week or once a month, whatever fits into your schedule. Indeed, generating journaling ideas could be their journaling assignment.
I can not emphasize how important it is to find journaling activities that encourage children to express themselves in their own unique style, but you already know this I’m sure.
Final Thoughts on Journal Writing Ideas
Consider this… isn’t writing in its truest form all about self-expression?
To the depths of my being I believe that healthy self-expression sparks interest and passion and that interest and passion spark a desire to learn the details (spelling and specific life skills) that ultimately serve children throughout their lifetimes.
Keep inspiring children, keep teaching and learning and growing, and most of all happy journaling to all!
Jill Schoenberg, Author and creator of Journal Buddies