Journals in a Remote Learning Environment

Journals play a key role in a Facing History classroom, whether the learning is in person or remote. Many students find that writing or drawing in a journal helps them process ideas, formulate questions, and retain information. Journals make learning visible by providing a safe, accessible space for students to share thoughts, feelings, and uncertainties. They also help nurture classroom community and offer a way for you to build relationships with your students through reading and commenting on their journals. And frequent journal writing helps students become more fluent in expressing their ideas in writing or speaking.

For guidelines on using journals to support learning, read the teaching strategy Journals in a Facing History Classroom, as well as the tips included in Student Journaling During Coronavirus. In addition, educators who are teaching in remote or hybrid learning environments should consider these questions:

  1. How can journaling benefit students during distance or hybrid learning?

    Journals provide students with a space for private reflection, which can help them process their thoughts and feelings through the uncertainty of these times. Journaling can be a helpful routine to consistently include if students are moving between distance and in-person learning so that they can maintain continuity in their learning. In addition, students may benefit from having added opportunities to reflect individually before participating in remote discussions.

    Not all students are equally comfortable sharing during remote sessions. Beginning a discussion with journaling can help students organize their thoughts and feelings and plan what contributions they would like to make.

  2. What format should students’ journals use? How should students share journal entries when learning is taking place outside of school?

    Consider whether you would like students to use physical or digital journals. How will the format students use for their journals affect how they include illustrations, images, or other creative responses? In a digital journal, it may be easier for students to include outside images or excerpts from a text, but in a physical journal, it may be easier for students to include their own illustrations.

    If you are transitioning between remote and in-person instruction, it may be helpful for students to use the same format in both settings in order to maintain consistency, and students should be able to access their journals in both settings. You should also consider how the format of students’ journals will affect how they share entries with you or their classmates. For example, if students keep a physical journal while they are learning remotely, they could share photos of entries or excerpts in their written work or discussions.

This Teaching Strategy is part of our Back to School 2020 Resources Collection

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