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Interactive Journals. Jessica Baird & Celenia Calderon Teaching & Learning Collaborative Antioch University 2004-2006. TLC Inquiry Project. Can we improve students’ oral and written language and explore students’ cultural background through interactive journals?.

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interactive journals

Interactive Journals

Jessica Baird & Celenia Calderon

Teaching & Learning Collaborative

Antioch University 2004-2006

tlc inquiry project
TLC Inquiry Project

Can we improve students’ oral and written language and explore students’ cultural background through interactive journals?

selected literature on children s writing development and interactive journals
Selected literature on children’s writing development and interactive journals
  • McCarrier, A., Pinnell, G. S., Fountas, I. C. (2000.) Interactive writing: How language and literacy come together, K-2.
  • Cress, S. W. (Sept., 1998.) A sense of story: Interactive journal writing in kindergarten. Early Childhood Education Journal. 26(1).
and some literature on dialogue journals

And some literature on dialogue journals...

"A type of writing in which students make entries in a notebook on topics of their choice, to which the teacher responds, modeling effective language but not overtly correcting the student’s language" (O’Malley & Valdez-Pierce, 1996).

what are interactive journals
What are Interactive Journals?

Interactive journals:

  • May be a notebook or any bound paper used to record students’ ideas, feelings, and experiences
  • Provide a place for teachers to model writing using student driven topics
  • Create a place/time for the teacher and student to communicate and exchange ideas through writing.
the purpose
The Purpose

Our Initial Goals: Year 1

  • Encourage developmentally appropriate independent writing
  • Learn more about the students’ culture through writing.
what does interactive journal writing look like in the class
What does Interactive journal writing look like in the class?

First, teachers model journal writing

And teach a short mini-lesson, for example on labeling pictures in the journal.

students work on their journals
Students work on their journals
  • on their own
  • or with others
  • at tables or on the floor
student teacher conferences
Student/teacher conferences
  • Students read their journal aloud
  • Teachers respond in writing, and read their response aloud
parent participation
Parent participation

After a few weeks of working with the journals in class, the teachers held a workshop for parents to explain the purpose of the journals, and encourage parents to participate with their child’s journal project.

parent workshop new challenges
Parents had varying levels of education

Parents wanted students to work beyond their developmental level

Parent Workshop/New Challenges
developmental stages of writing
Developmental Stages of Writing



Invented letters

Random letters

Invented spelling

Common spelling

Moats, Luisa (1997)


Random Letter Stage: As children become more aware of the alphabet, they often write the letters in long strings, usually at random.


Invented spelling. Invented spelling takes many forms but is related to the sounds the child hears in each word. At the beginning of this stage, children may write one letter to represent one word. Later, words are represented by two letters, the initial and ending letter sounds. As the child’s writing continues to mature, most sounds are represented in their invented spelling.

findings in year 1
Findings in Year 1
  • Many students relied on the same sentence pattern
  • Some students required lined paper
  • Students were enthusiastic about writing
  • Journals were a source for ongoing authentic assessment
  • Teachers were able to identify and prepare lessons that focused on student’s individual needs.
expanding the project
Expanding the Project
  • Incorporate technology
  • Continue to collaborate with University faculty and colleagues
  • Model focused, thematic mini writing lessons before journal writing
  • Provide an audience for the students
  • Share an authentic learning opportunity with parents and family members.
road blocks
Road Blocks
  • Technology
  • School email accounts
  • Management
  • Parent and teacher responses
parent responses
Parent Responses

“Very nice. Can you make it longer next time?”

“What a cute kid…..hehe.”

“It is working now. I really appreciate it. Much better! Thanks a lot!”

“Sorry for the late reply, but that was great.”

what did we learn
What did we learn?
  • Despite the challenges in this ambitious project, the journals were a great assessment and teaching tool, and the students’ enthusiasm for writing grew.
  • Parents were amazed at how much their children had learned to LOVE writing, and appreciated the opportunity to be part of their children’s learning.
  • Many students who began Kindergarten without any writing experience were writing several sentences on a page by June.