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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tried It Tuesday (Shared Writing Journals!)

It's Tuesday and time to share more "Tried It" ideas from your classroom or home!
What is Tried It Tuesday?  Read more about it here.

Awesome linky button above designed by the talented Michelle at The 3am Teacher!
My Tried It:
Shared Writing Journals!
I started using shared writing journals this year after reading about them all summer in the blogging world.  You can read more about making them in my post here.
I started the year with these four journals.  These covers I picked up from my blog idol (the reason I started blogging myself), Tara at 4th Grade Frolics.
 The Avery stickers are placed inside the journal and when students finish their entry, they place a sticker into their "individual writing journal" to keep track of finished journals.

Stickers placed in front cover of their individual writing journal after completing a shared writing journal:

Entries started out simple as one paragraph and gradually grew to multi-paragraphs following the format learned in class.

What I LOVE about SWJ (shared writing journals):
1.  Students were super excited to write in these when they were introduced.
2.  Students work on their writing stamina on a topic they are comfortable with.
3.  Students work on writing using multi-paragraphs on a topic they are comfortable with.
4.  Students can read other students' entries if they have extra time.
5.  Students were producing great writing examples as the year progressed!
What I DON'T love about SWJ:
1.  Students don't love to write (surprise, surprise) and the novelty wears off fast!
2.  Most students don't finish planning their entry and writing it during one center time and need to finish later.  That means there is only one journal and it needs to be available for them to finish at another center time soon.  Sometimes they forget to finish.
3.  Most of my students only finished TWO writing entries this year so far!  This is mostly my fault because I have so many work on writing and word work activities that they can choose something else with the free choice aspect.
What can I do differently to keep the interest alive?
This is tough because it seems like the students really would rather do any activity that involves less writing than it takes to complete a shared writing journal.  Although, I do think that I need to manage this better.  It is still my first year trying a lot of new strategies and there has been quite the learning curve!  
I FINALLY introduced some "new" SWJ's today.  I know, I know...what have I been waiting for?  I guess I was waiting for most students to have written in three out of the four journals, but with our time constraints and the lost novelty of the "old" SWJ's, this was not happening unless I took away the free choice of Daily 5.  One new SWJ introduced was a persuasive topic on whether or not gym should be cut from the curriculum.  That sparked some interest!  I forgot to take a picture of that one but you can find them by Fancy Free in Fourth here.
This journal is about your best friend (easy, right?).  
You can find this in a pack from Fancy Free in Fourth here.

This journal is a compare/contrast of two members of your family.
You can find them by Fancy Free in Fourth here.
Have you tried Shared Writing Journals?  I would love to hear more about how you use them!  
Check out other Tried Its by these amazing bloggers!  
Thank you so much for taking the time to share and collaborate ideas!!


  1. I've never used shared journals before, but I do love the idea of them. I'm teaching at a two week writing camp this summer, I may try it out there.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  2. I use shared writing journals in my classroom. I made the covers cutsey to entice them to want to write, but really worked with my kiddos....to share the beginning paragraph with someone in that center BEFORE they write. They can only share 1 paragraph and that seems to get them thinking - oh I can top that. It seems to be working...we'll see!
    Third Grade All Stars

  3. I use shared writing journals in my classroom and as I was reading your post, I kept saying "yes!" "I know!" "Ain't that the truth?!" :)
    I am facing many of the same challenges that you are - and I LOVE your suggestions. I have pinned this entire post so that I can refer back to it when I revamp the idea for next year.
    Thanks for sharing, Holly!
    Joy in the Journey

  4. We also do shared journals but we call them Whole Class Journals: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Whole-class-journals-Writing-Prompts My kiddos LOVE them! I love how you include the rubrics and stickers. I am definitely pinning this to revamp my journals for next year!

    Thanks for sharing :)


  5. I have plans to use SWJ's next year (thanks for the acronym). I love how you explained what worked for you and what didn't work out so well. I love the rubric and the stickers - so organized. And all the links, oh my, this is a dream post for people like me who want to start a SWJ program.

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  6. Thanks again for the great link up! I love all the ideas.

    Digital: Divide & Conquer

  7. I'm so excited to try these! They would be perfect for my writing station with my kiddos! I'm pinning it! ;)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  8. I haven't used SWJs yet, but I'm very interested and I appreciate all the pros and cons you gave us! It gives me time to think about how I want to implement these next year! Thanks Holly!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  9. I have some shared journals at my writing station as well. I bought some covers, prompts, and key word charts for them this summer on TpT. They were super cute and I was really excited about them, thinking the kids would LOVE them. But, like you said, the excitement wore of fast and they are mostly empty. The only thing they seem to actually still be interested in doing at the writing center is write ME letters. Needless to say, I get enough letters and the content isn't all that great. I think maybe I need to do more myself to build the hype up when it comes to writing other things. Thanks for sharing!

    Literacy Spark

  10. Great idea about the stickers to track entries! I'm borrowing that for sure!

    I'm your newest follower! Please visit me @ Treats 4 Teachers

    :) Stacy

  11. Thank you sooooo much for the always sweet comments and love!!!! I am so excited for you and your adorable linky!!!! I pinky promise, as soon as I can get my stinkin act together I will link up!!! I had a few ideas in mind, just haven't had the time:/ Can wait to catch a sec to read about all these links:)) Thanks for all the smiles you spread:)))

    4th Grade Frolics

  12. I am so glad that I finally got to link up with you and your great linky! Thanks for all of your great ideas!

    Teaching Fourth

  13. What if your shared journals were binders? You could still have cute covers, students could work on loose leaf paper whenever they needed to for as long as they needed to and then add it in to the binder when they were done. You could have a rotating day when they got to read the binders as part of independent reading. Maybe change your journals every few months so they know there's a time limit then you could keep bringing up fresh topics/genres. Just brainstorming. Hope it's useful for someone!

    1. That is a GREAT idea, PorscheNut! Thank you so much:) I will have to try that next year.

  14. I did not end up using Shared Journals this year (even though I made labels). I would like to use them next year.
    ~April Walker
    The Idea Backpack
    Balancing the Backpack