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Learning Journal:

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 are covering.

A learning journal provides a continuity of direction and focus given that most students are in at least five classes a day.

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.

Quick write:

  • 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:

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 the models.

A common model for persuasive arguments usually contains the following principles:
  1. A clearly stated position
  2. Support for the position with data
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Describe and refute the opposing argument to your position



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