What advice would you give primary teachers who are new to journaling?
From Cynthia Law, Assistant Principal of Achievement, Diamond Academy, Thetford:
We use our journals more along the lines of a jotting journal. We still have high expectations of it because of course we have inspections that we’re accountable to. We want them to do their best work in there, whether it’s right or wrong, we’re not grading or looking at the correct answer, we’re looking at how they’re thinking and how they’re processing the work.
Use journals for reflection
A lot of times we tell them, “be reflective in your journals.” We want them to think mathematically. We want them to use the mathematical vocabulary, because it’s important if they understand the vocabulary… Part of the problem with the word problems is they don’t understand the vocabulary.
We need to be able to identify those. And a lot of times when they’re reflecting back — whether it’s in conversation or in a written question to me in their journals. Because there’s a lot of communication between me and the students within their journals, they’ll ask me questions and I’ll say, “Oh, what about this?”
And so they have to reflect back on how they can extend what we were doing or how they could explain it to one of their classmates.
Use whole-class journaling strategies
So there’s a lot of reflection in our journals, along with different strategies that we come up with as a whole class, so we don’t have just one method to solve any given problem. There’s multiple methods, you can use whichever one gets you there, be confident in your ability, and we give it a go.
So our journals are way more reflective than using it for calculations and having just a display of work.