10 Questions for Jeff: Journals in social studies

December 10th, 2012

It’s December 10th, so what better time to begin our 10-day series with Jeff Anderson. We received dozens of questions about writing and teaching writing over the past few weeks and we will post Jeff’s responses to ten of these. So check back every day this week and next to see if your question was chosen. At the end of the series we will announce the winner of our Jeff Anderson giveaway that includes all of his books and videos!

Question 1: What is a good way to use journals in social studies?

Elizabeth Wilson
Smethport, PA

Jeff’s response: I love this question. I hear a desire to include more writing in social studies, which is an admirable goal. First of all, I wouldn’t call them journals in the social studies. I call them writer’s notebooks in my English class, but journals have too many associations that won’t serve you well in social studies. Maybe call it a History Log or Historian or Geographer’s Notebook. Be creative. Just don’t call it a journal.

One of the best uses of a social studies log I have ever seen is a teacher using the History Alive program from Joy Hikam. As part of the routine, most days students use an “interactive notebook.” Students draw a picture or symbol or map on the left facing page that symbolizes or synthesizes what was discussed in class and then reflect or summarize on the right-hand side of the page. I like this because students use more than one mode, and the drawing actually supports the writing. This is a meaningful tool for thought in your subject area.

That to me is the essence of how you could use a learning log in social studies: a place to record questions, reflections, notes, wonderings. A place to draw maps, cartoons, write persuasive letters, plan PowerPoints or other media and yes, maybe even include a pioneer child’s journal entry as he or she goes out into the wilderness or witnesses any event in history.

Whatever you do, don’t make it a boring thing. Of course, you can’t use the kids as a gauge as they will always complain when they have to write. Short spurts. Talk in between. Share. Gather information. Discuss. Write more. Sharing will keep the writing alive and interactive.

Entry Filed under: Content Areas,Writing

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. 10 Questions for Jeff: Re&hellip  |  December 11th, 2012 at 9:25 am

    […] Revisit Question 1 […]

  • 2. 10 Questions for Jeff: To&hellip  |  December 13th, 2012 at 9:45 am

    […] Revisit Question 1 Revisit Question 2 Revisit Question 3 […]

  • 3. 10 Questions for Jeff: He&hellip  |  December 14th, 2012 at 9:54 am

    […] As writing teachers, the trick is to know the kinds of activities that get kids writing and the type of feedback that motivates rather than humiliates. To get kids writing, we know freewriting activities of all kinds, especially those that involve prior discussion or read alouds get the most reluctant writers moving. Secondly, students need to share what they have to say with their peers, and they need to hear how writing is responded to thoughtfully. Telling the writer what is strong and then offering focused feedback on one thing they can do better. For more specific information read another one of my recent Stenhouse blog entries. […]

  • 4. 10 Questions for Jeff: Di&hellip  |  December 17th, 2012 at 10:01 am

    […] Revisit Question 1 Revisit Question 2 Revisit Question 3 Revisit Question 4 Revisit Question 5 […]

  • 5. 10 Questions for Jeff: Is&hellip  |  December 18th, 2012 at 10:35 am

    […] Revisit Question 1 Revisit Question 2 Revisit Question 3 Revisit Question 4 Revisit Question 5 Revisit Question 6 […]

  • 6. 10 Questions for Jeff: Co&hellip  |  December 19th, 2012 at 11:33 am

    […] Revisit Question 1 Revisit Question 2 Revisit Question 3 Revisit Question 4 Revisit Question 5 Revisit Question 6 Revisit Question 7 […]

  • 7. 10 Questions for Jeff: Th&hellip  |  December 20th, 2012 at 9:04 am

    […] Revisit Question 1 Revisit Question 2 Revisit Question 3 Revisit Question 4 Revisit Question 5 Revisit Question 6 Revisit Question 7 Revisit Question 8 […]

  • 8. 10 Questions for Jeff: Ho&hellip  |  December 21st, 2012 at 8:51 am

    […] Revisit Question 1 Revisit Question 2 Revisit Question 3 Revisit Question 4 Revisit Question 5 Revisit Question 6 Revisit Question 7 Revisit Question 8 Revisit Question 9 […]

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