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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Spark Student Motivation Saturday (writing journals)!

I am linking up with my BBB, Joanne, at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturdays!  Bloggers share lessons, tips, goodies, etc. that motivate their students.
My student motivation tip is an idea that I implemented last year: 
Decorating and Personalizing Writing Journal Covers

I read about this motivating strategy last summer on Love 4th Grade.  
Decorating and personalizing writing journal covers really gives students ownership of their writing journals and is a fun activity to do the first week of school.  Anything that makes the writing process a little more motivation is great!  I would have to say that students coming to 4th grade complain about writing more than any other activity.  We always talk about why writing might be their least favorite thing to do in school and come to the conclusion that they have not practiced it as much as other skills.  
Who likes to do things that they aren't very good at yet?  
So, in 4th grade, we do A LOT of writing for practice!  
It helps to have this journal "special" since they will be using it so much!

Over the summer, I decorated my own journal as an example for the students.  I cut out images that represent me in some way and added a couple pictures of my family.  Then, I mod podged the cover.
I remember how excited the students were to decorate the journals and see them the next day all mod podged!  Here is a picture of some of the journals last year just before I mod podged them:
This year I think I will also apply a thin coat of varnish over the mod lodge after it dries because on some journals the mod podge started to peel over time.  
I will use varnish from the craft store like this:
I also made this handout describing the decorating notebooks process with a sample picture of mine.  I gave some time to look for pictures from magazines during class but had students finish gathering materials from home for homework.  They loved this!
This handout was great for students to take home and show their parents what they needed to look for and also reminded the students of the directions too:)  Last year I didn't receive any notes or calls with questions from parents on this project.  Always a plus!

Click Here to get your editable copy of the document below for FREE from my TPT store!
This handout is now EDITABLE too!!

I will be announcing the winners of my Pin It To Win It tomorrow!  
Stop by and comment if you would like a chance to win some book bin labels:)

Also, don't forget to enter for your chance to win a $50 TPT gift card by following a new

Here is what you need to do to enter for a chance to win a $50 TpT gift certificate:
  • Click the picture above or {here} to take you to our collaborative board.
  • Follow the board.
  • Find the pin description that contains the special code.
  • Enter the code in the Rafflecopter.
  • Easy-peasy!!
  • Contest ends Sunday, July 28th at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I like the idea of using Mod Podge to make the covers stick...you have me thinking.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  2. Hey Holly~I grabbed the freebie and saved it in my "print for registration" file! Thanks so much for another great idea!
    Creating Lifelong Learners
    Follow me on Bloglovin'

  3. I made some big mistakes in the decorating of writing journals last year - not covering it with anything and letting them use foam pieces. Thanks for the idea of using mod podge and for the freebie!!

  4. I couldn't agree more about motivating them for writing! I'm planning on having them decorate their covers this year too, so I appreciate the tips on modge podge and varnish! I think students will be so proud of their books and want everything in it to be of great quality!
    Thanks for sharing your freebie and linking up!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  5. Love this idea. They look awesome too!

    Hodges Herald

  6. I love the personalized, decorated journal. I think it helps make the journals more meaningful. I've never used Modge Podge on it though. Thank you for the suggestion. I'll give it a try this year.


  7. I recently saw this idea on pinterest and reppined it because I want to use it this year! I think it may have linked me to your handout! I like the idea of putting something over them to help them last! Thanks for sharing. :)

    - Pam
    Moments to Teach

  8. Very nice! I have done this before, too, and some of them picked at it (or some didn't do it at all- sad face) so I didn't do it the last two years. I can't decide if I want to try it this year or not...yours turned out really cute!! :O)

    Have a great weekend!
    Collaboration Cuties

  9. I used modge Podge on a composition notebook, My issue was that when it dried, it was still a bit sticky. The book would stick to pages in my bag, etc. Same when I tried to do a decorated clipboard. Any suggestion???

    1. I have been using packing tape to kind of "laminate" them for the last couple years. Lasts all year!! Just takes a few long strips with edges folded onto the inside cover and you're done! :)
      ideas by jivey
      Follow Me On Facebook! :)

  10. I've had students decorate their covers before. Never thought of Mod Podging them after. Great idea!

  11. I love your idea for the notebook covers. I enjoy reading about your Mod Podge adventures....you've got me hooked!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  12. This is always my favorite thing about writing journals--personalization!! You really learn a lot about the kids and they learn about you too!

    Thanks for the share! Check out my decorated notebook on my blog: