Submitted by: Carolyn Davis
I have had students writing daily in journals since I started teaching. I provide a topic four days a week and make Fridays free-choice of topic. The topic is presented on the board first thing in the morning and discussed, if needed. I grade the journals daily, a "plus" for 11 complete sentences on the topic, a "check" for 7-10 sentences on the topic, a "minus" for any sentences written on the topic, and a "zero" for no sentences written on the topic or if the journal is not turned in.
Students who earn four pluses in a row get the next day off...a vacation. They really enjoy this, often drawing a picture of themselves under a palm tree symbolizing the vacation. The daily writing journal allows me to get to know my students well, as they express themselves freely on a variety of topics. They write with greater ease with daily practice and are used to writing on topic. They often write nearly twice as much as students from other classes on proficiency exams.