A learning journal usually takes the form of a
binder that every student has (some teachers choose to keep these
in class to prevent them from becoming misplaced). Assignments,
quick writes, homework and other materials can be completed and
inserted in the binder. The journal is an important resource
for students and teacher alike for keeping track of progress and
studying for tests and assignments.
The purposes of the learning journal are to focus
a studentās attention on the particular subject matter at hand
in your class.
The assumption behind a learning journal is that
by listening and participating in discussion, taking notes, and
reflecting on your opinions given the evidence presented, facilitates
deeper knowledge and personalizes it especially when students
can put the issues, concepts, and ideas in their own words.
A learning journal is a reflective document where
students are free to express themselves and their opinions.
A learning journal is an effective assessment
tool for teachers. It aids a teacher in determining how students
are processing and interacting with the material and content you
A learning journal provides a continuity of direction
and focus given that most students are in at least five classes
It is important to use learning journals daily
for quick writes, journal assignments, notes, quizzes, etc.
Teachers should read and comment on learning journal
assignments and student writing on a weekly basis.
Assure the students that the learning
journal is a confidential document between the student and the teacher.
However, some sections may be used in class as appropriate.
- The purposes of quick writes have similar goals
as the learning journal in that it helps focus student attention
and assess prior knowledge, or initiate a new idea.
- Quick writes are usually done at the beginning
of the class as a means of assessing students understandings
of the material in order for the teacher to make instructional
decisions such as reviewing previous content that students may
have had difficulty with.
- Quick writes are frequently used to as a spark
to focus and stimulate class discussion.
Persuasive arguments are a significant component
of any curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking. Although
the models for this vary, the basic principles are similar among
A common model for persuasive arguments
usually contains the following principles:
A clearly stated position
Support for the position with
Additional support (warrants)
drawn from general democratic principles that are part of any
social studies curriculum. For example, in the state of Michigan
they consist of the Core Democratic Values. A few examples pertaining
to this particular unit: Equality before the law, justice before
the law, individual liberties vs. the common good.
Support your point with outside
knowledge that is not part of the content that you are teaching.
In other words, bring in an example from history or current
real world events.
Describe and refute the opposing
argument to your position