Educational Resources

Journal Writing
by Michael Gori

Through reading the Journal entries from Lance's trip with "The Song of The Whale, students will gain a better understanding of good journal writing. It is important to explain to the students that there really are two types of journals - personal and "public," yet each serves to describe the writers feelings and experiences about a given event. Lance's journal would of course, be considered "public." This lesson will contain large group instruction and discussion; cooperative learning group-work and individual work.

Time: 2 lesson periods


  1. Students will gain a better understanding of journal writing.
  2. Students will learn what how description and narration make journals more interesting and informative.
  3. Students will write a journal entry about an experience they have had which they would like to share with others. This objective may be modified by the instructor.

The Lesson:

Day 1

Read the first day of Lance's Journal with the class. Have students identify elements of the entry which they found interesting. Make sure students identify descriptive and narrative elements of the entry.


Descriptive element: a section of text which describes an event, person or place.
Narrative element: a section of text which describes the author's feelings or observations of an event, person or place.

Divide class into groups and have each group read a day's journal entry to themselves. Then have groups identify a few of the descriptive and narrative elements from their days journal and share with class. Have class explain why they favored particular sections over others.

Return to large group instruction and ask students to take a few minutes to brainstorm about an experience they have had that they would like to share with others. Give remaining class time to students to begin writing about this experience in a journal type of essay. Lengths will vary due to the nature of student experiences, however you might want to put a minimum requirement of three paragraphs on this assignment.

Day 2

At this point in the lesson, depending on your classroom, there are two routes to go -- the first, have students share their journal entries with class if they wish, the second, to go through the peer editing process with the class and produce (eventually) a final copy. The best "sharing" results seem to occur when the instructor also writes a journal entry and shares it with the class. Whichever mode of instruction you choose, hopefully this lesson has helped your students to learn that journal writing need not be the inane, boring assignment it often seems to be.