How Daily Journaling Creates Better Writers

Students in a classroom writing in their journals

When paired with modeling, scaffolding, and feedback, in-classroom journaling can be a great way to help students develop writing stamina and writing fluency.

The first few minutes of your class often set the tone for how the rest of class will go. Using this time for in-classroom journaling gets students mentally warmed up and prepares them to work on more complex activities and assignments.

In-classroom journaling is also a great way to maximize the amount of writing your students do on a daily basis, which is key to developing strong writers in your classroom. In fact, “provid[ing] daily time for students to write” is one of four recommendations for improving elementary students’ writing put forth by the Institute of Education Sciences. Similarly, a landmark report by The National Commission on Writing recommended (at least) doubling the amount of writing all K-12 students do both inside and outside the classroom.

Regardless of whether you encourage students to write freeform, diary-like journal entries or ask them to craft structured pieces of writing in response to a specific prompt, a daily journaling routine will help your students become more comfortable writing across many styles and contexts.

The benefits of in-classroom journaling

When paired with modeling, scaffolding, and feedback, the mere act of writing frequently builds not only writing stamina, but writing fluency. The more students write, the easier it becomes to put proverbial pen to paper, resulting in more fluent, more confident writers. In addition to promoting writing fluency, daily journaling engages students in their own learning by:

1. Creating opportunities for reflection and connection

A journal is a perfect place for students to reflect on their learning and draw connections between class material and their everyday lives. For many students, school can seem disconnected from their lived experiences, but journaling provides an opportunity to relate to material on a personal level without the pressure of demonstrating comprehension or factual retention.

2. Lowering the stakes of writing

Learning to write well is a long, complex process during which a novice writer will make countless errors ranging from the incorrect use of basic punctuation to the omission of a key premise in an argumentative essay. Daily journaling creates a context in which these errors are of little import. Instead, students are able to focus on becoming more comfortable with the writing process and getting their ideas on the page. Depending on the prompts you use, these rough ideas can double as an initial brainstorming step for a longer piece of formal writing.

3. Deepening student-teacher relationships

Journals often give you valuable perspectives on your students’ interests, struggles, and more. Especially if you’re asking students to respond to prompts aimed at developing their social-emotional competencies, maintaining student privacy is of the utmost importance, but using low-stakes student writing to get to know your class is a powerful way to follow up on standard icebreakers.

Using NoRedInk to build more confident writers

As a teacher, rolling out an in-class journaling routine may seem daunting, but NoRedInk includes a number of features that significantly lighten the lift involved in getting students writing on a daily basis.

Many of our thousands of Quick Write prompts are ideal starting points for student journal entries. Want to keep things light and informal? Have students respond to a picture-based prompt. Looking for something a bit more structured? Have them respond to a hypothetical scenario or write within creative constraints. If you want to keep track of how much each student is writing without placing too much of an emphasis on grading, NoRedInk will automatically score each Quick Write based solely on word count.

From an organizational standpoint, NoRedInk Writing Portfolios make it easy for students to maintain online journals and for you to zero in on which journal entries to review. Writing Portfolios are automatically populated by every piece of writing students submit, and students are able to curate their portfolios by removing work or featuring work they’re particularly proud of. Featured pieces are pinned to the top of a student’s Writing Portfolio so that you have quick access to these standout samples.

Interested in building more confident writers in your classroom? Sign up for free today!

Thomas collaborates with colleagues from across NoRedInk to craft stories that illustrate how NoRedInk ​​builds stronger writers. He holds a BA in Religious Studies from Occidental College.