<span class='p-name'>Journaling as a means to scaffold & assess learning</span>

Journaling as a means to scaffold & assess learning

Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.

Mina Murray

In an earlier post, I discussed formative and summative assessments, and how they can provide opportunities to support learners.

Assessment is a fundamental component of the teaching & learning process. Formative & summative assessments can provide meaningful opportunities to meet the diverse needs of students. Journaling is example of a formative assessment that can be used to help educators anticipate future instruction.

What is journaling?

Journaling can mean a variety of processes and habits for people in different fields. Recently, journaling has had a surge in popularity as it has been viewed as a tool to aid in self-care, productivity, or documenting our lives.

From an educational perspective, I view journaling as a tool to promote reflection, and document learning experiences. In the process of journaling, we’re building student metacognition. This means our ability to “think about thinking.” These may be reflections on lessons learned, and the steps to learn these.

I define journaling as opportunities for individuals to document their thinking over time. Journaling is a process in which individuals are documenting thinking over time.

This is a series of data points that document the learner’s practices, perceptions, & processes as they build to full comprehension as a lifelong learner. You are learning “out loud” as you make teaching & learning explicit and observable.

Types of journaling

There are many tips, tricks, types, and tools for journaling. You can search online to find a variety of these. Ultimately, I see two types of journaling, in terms of the process involved.

  • Reflective – Personal records of students’ learning experiences. What, where, when, why, did you learn?
  • Process or Learning Logs – Documentation of steps taken in learning and skills development. What have you learned, tried, and critically reflected upon?

Journaling in your classroom

There are a multitude of opportunities to have learners document their learning over time. Ultimately, it depends on your pedagogy, content, & student learning objectives.

Journaling can begin with a spiral bound notebook to allow learners to remain offline as much as possible. This was my experience while teaching in K-12 environments. I had students journal each day for 7 to 10 minutes to start the class. Students could write, draw, scribble, doodle…express themselves in any capacity. I provided them with a prompt to get started, but they were always allowed to go “off script” and write about whatever inspired them.

If traditional journaling is not exciting for you or your students…there are multiple options.

Blogging – Have students rewrite and revise their content in a Google Doc, or blogging platform and include multimodal content (images, videos, audioclips, hyperlinks, etc.)

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Vlogging – Have students turn the camera on themselves and record their think aloud like Captain Kirk.

Sketchnoting – Sketchnoting is a form of note-taking that embeds visual and self-reflection in the process. Here’s a resource to get you started.

Image BY NC SD by giulia.forsythe

Art journaling – An art journal is a visual diary that takes a step beyond sketchnoting and combines art, imagery, and sometimes text. Here is a good resource to get you started.

Image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Documenting thinking over time

Journaling is a great opportunity for formative assessment. Students are documenting thinking over time while building opportunities for metacognition as they learn.

Cover image credit

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