Title: (Buddy Journal)EL
(by: Erin Lykins, edited by: Farrah Anderson and Teresa Wojcik


Textbook definition: Written conversations between children in a journal format; promotes student interaction, cooperation, and collaboration.

Describe the lesson: The students are each given a simple one subject spiral notebook to call their buddy journal. Each notebook is a different color to keep the students anonymous to each other. The teacher will be able to identify each student's notebook individually by color. The students will write in journal entry format with proper grammar and punctuation knowing that their entry will be read by other students in the class. The student can write about anything that matters to the student. For example: exciting events that may have happened on their weekend, activities or sports that the student may participate in, or any celebrations they may have attended. The journals will then be collected and passed out randomly so students are able to response to another student's journal entry. This type of activity gives the student more freedom of their particular writing subject and the ability to work on proper grammatical skills.

When was it observed: Monday January 31, 2011

Classroom teacher and school: Mrs. Slavinski at Austin Elementary

Grade level: 4th grade

Objectives of the lesson:
  • be able to effectively write in journal format with proper grammar and punctuation.
  • be able to respond back to entries in journal format with proper grammar and punctuation.

"Students will be able to effectively write in journal format with proper grammar and punctuation and respond back to journal entries in the journal format with proper grammar and punctuation. The students will also be able to demonstrate their own personal interests and hobbies through this free writing process of the journal format."

Materials needed for the lesson:
  • one subject spiral notebook for each student ( must be different color for identification purposes).
  • dictionary (to ensure the students are able to spell words correctly)
  • pencil or pen.

Every Monday the students are given fifteen minutes to write in journal format with proper grammar and punctuation about anything that matters to the student. For example: hobbies and activities that love, sports they play, exciting events about their weekend, or struggles or strengths they have in school. This activity allows for the student to write about what really interests them at that moment. Each student will make the journal entry in their own notebook that is a different color from every other students for identification purposes for the teacher. The student does not sign the journal entry with their own name but instead they sign the entry sincerely, pen pal. After each student has been given their fifteen minutes of free write, the buddy journals are then collected by the teacher and passed out randomly ensuring that each student does not receive their own journal. Each student is then given another fifteen minutes to write a response to the journal entry they received following the same criteria before of journal format and proper grammar and punctuation. The students are then able to respond back to their classmate by possibly reflecting and recognizing the same interests as their classmate or describe other matters that may interest the student. After the second set of fifteen minutes is up, the teacher then collects all the buddy journals and will read both entries to assess that proper grammar and punctuation is being displayed, as well as journal format. The teacher is then able to grade the students entries and assess areas of excellence by the student and areas that need improvement. This particular strategy allows for the student to write about topics they enjoy as well as perfecting writing and grammatical skills.

Any supporting documents:

Example of simple spiral notebooks that range from multiple colors.

My observations of the lesson:
During the lesson, well really before the lesson could even begin I could hear the students conversing with one another about their excitement to read their buddies reply in their journal and expressing their excitement about what entry they were going to write about today. The students sat eagerly in their seats as they waited for the teacher to pass out each student's individual journal. The students quickly opened up the journals upon receiving them and began reading their response from one of their classmates. After the responses were read the pencils went flying to jot down their newest entry. I also noticed some students checking the dictionary for proper spelling. It was very clear to tell that the students had mastered the objectives through the assessment of their teacher. The teacher had given feedback to the student and made the proper corrections if any needed to be made. I might have done this lesson differently by not keeping the students names anonymous and maybe allowing each student to pick their own buddy for the buddy journal process but at the same time I can see the benefit of keeping the student names anonymous because there is none of this "oh I don't like her" scenarios. I think the teacher was really effective by giving the students opportunity to write about anything they wanted to versus giving them an assigned topic to write about. The teacher also provided the students with feedback, which also benefited the students. I do think that the teacher could have maybe provided more time for the students to write their response since they were also having to read the original entry first. I really feel that this method of writing is an excellent way to allow for the student to really express their own interests and matters they might have. Since the student is able to write about anything they want, chances are the assignment is much more enjoyable and the students will take more pride in making sure they meet all the assigned criteria of the assignment as well. I feel the teacher made the choices of this assignment to give the students opportunity to express how they feel, what they like, and to have an assignment to cater to the student.

Benefits of (Buddy Journal):
The strengths of the buddy journal is that this strategy gave the students more freedom in what they could write about instead of trying to pick and choose from specific topics given by a teacher. The students eagerness to write journal entries was almost overwhelming and you could tell that the students really enjoyed the buddy journal strategy. The buddy journal also can display moments of kindness of the students and bring the class closer as a whole even though the students keep their buddy journals anonymous.

Drawbacks of (Buddy Journal):
One weakness of this strategy would be that the students have such a small time limit and some students may feel rushed to write about their topic and not be able to finish their entry with everything they wanted to write. I also think that keeping the students anonymous by having different colored notebooks is not the best way to keep the students anonymous to each other. One student could easily see another student's notebook cover and know that Abby's notebook is green and therefore the whole purpose of being anonymous would be out the window. I think a better way would be to give each student a notebook of the same color and identifying the student by I.D. number on the inside cover of the notebook.