I have used these themed journals in my classroom for the past several years, and I really can't imagine not using this resource in some way, shape, or form.
What are shared journals?
Shared journals are a fun, and meaningful, way to encourage students to write. Students take turns writing in the journals. Over time, they can read the stories in the journals and continue to add new stories to them. One thing I have learned is that my students love to write stories for their classmates to read, and they really enjoy reading their classmates' stories.
How do you use them?
There is no right or wrong way to use shared journals in your classroom. Like most things, it is a resource that you can easily use to meet your needs!
- I have used them as part of my writer's workshop. When a student finished his/her assigned writing, he/she could write in one of the journals if they wanted to.
- I most recently used them as a fast finisher activity. I set the journals out and whenever students had free time, they were allowed to write in them.
- Some people use them as part of their Daily 5/Centers program.
Tips and Tricks
- Be sure to keep the journals in an easily accessible place. You want your students to use them, so don't make it difficult for them to get to the books.
- If a student starts a story but isn't able to finish it with the time he/she has, have them mark their page with a sticky note. Show them how to place it on the page so that the note sticks out the top and write their name on it. This lets readers and future contributors know that the author is still working on that page.
- Make sure YOU write in them too! You can do this as often as you'd like, but I will tell you that when you do, your student will go crazy. They love to read what the teacher has to say, and it is very motivating for them!
- Think about switching them out. What I mean by that is, place a few different ones out at a time and rotate them every few weeks/months. If you set too many options out at once, students get overwhelmed. I like to place 2-3 out at a time and rotate different themes out every few months or so (or whenever I can tell my students need me to).
The beauty of shared journals is you can manage them and use them however you like. It's one of those resources that allows you to encourage your students to read and write, but allows you the flexibility to use it to best meet your needs. You can find the journal covers shown in this post here.