I Keep a Writer's Notebook alongside my Students. Do you?
I began requiring journal writing way back in 1990--my first year of teaching. I had taken a methods class at my university that stressed the importance of having students keep journals to record daily responses to topics. I said, "Why not?" and every student from day one maintained a spiral-bound "journal" for me. Most students tossed their journals in the trash on the last day of class in June; they could have cared less about the responses they'd scribbled in there, and I knew they didn't care about their journals, yet I continued to use this daily practice for those first five or so years of teaching. To be perfectly honest, journal-writing was ten or fifteen minutes of daily "busy work" that allowed me to take care of attendance and set up the classroom's lesson for the day while the kids were quiet. In the spring of 1998, thanks to my high school journalism students' hard work, I was awarded with a month-long, summer fellowship from I have to be doing something right.