Journals for student reflection on learning

Anita Levine,
Elementary Education and Reading,
SUNY Oneonta

I use the Bb Journaling tool in almost all my education classes, including my online grad. course. Works well for me. I make just one journal and they can each do/submit their writing in that one. They can make as many entries as they want in just the one Journal.

I typically leave the journal ‘open’ throughout the semester for their writing submissions. However, there are times that a journal submission has a due date/time so I would set the Display/Date Restriction to whatever that day and time is. That usually helps for the stragglers who wait till the last moment to do their entry.  Then I reopen it.

For my ed. tech. course, I typically have the students write a journal entry on their growth process for that week. What they learned, anything challenging they encountered, what they did to address it, etc. Near the end of the semester I have them read back through their journal entries and comment on what they have observed within themselves based on their written reflections in relationship to their skills development, confidence, their understandings, changes, shifts, any Ah Hah’s, whatever.

The students sometimes grumble about the weekly writing, but that’s okay. They usually forgot to do it when I left it up to them to write, so we take about 5 minutes at the end of class for their journaling. Then it’s done and they don’t have to remember to do it. This past semester, one student wrote about how much confidence he gained  in using the various technologies and didn’t realize it until he read back through his journal entries. It was definitely a progression for him throughout the semester, filled with frustrations and successes (which he would journal about) to where he stated how proud he was of himself with what he created. How his self-confidence grew.  So in this case, having the journal entries to read back through from the start of the semester to near the end was very powerful for him.

The only con I have with the Journal function is the actual setting up of the journal. Too many steps to set it up!  😄

This is part of a series of posts collected by the TLTC and Faculty Center to share ideas and tools that have been helpful in the shift is teaching during the Spring 2020 semester.  If you are interested in sharing either a tool that you have found very useful or a method that you are now using in your courses, we would love to hear from you. Send your video or brief description to Chilton Reynolds and we will post it as a part of this series.