How can you encourage your students to learn better, boost creativity and improve essay writing skills? There might be a universal answer for all…and it is journaling: a 20-minute practice that helps your students to become more efficient and productive.

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A journal is a private space where students write out and organize their thoughts and feelings about people, events, or issues that are important to them. It can take different forms.

  • Motivational journaling can be looked at as a diary to keep oneself in a positive state of mind by reflecting on ideas, memories or inspirational quotes.
  • Gratitude journaling serves as a record of things an author appreciates.
  • A Writer’s journal is a place where one processes and stores ideas and thoughts that may eventually serve as the basis for more formal writings, like application letters, fictional stories or academic papers.
  • A Thematic/subject journal includes student’s thoughts and progress in specific interest areas.
  • A Success journal captures everyday triumphs that help its writer move forward towards their goals.
  • Sketch-reflection journaling helps students to keep track of what they learned through drawing. Having used sketch-reflection journals in her classroom, Elizabeth Peterson suggested children create covers themselves. Drawings can be described on the accompanying pieces of the lined paper.
  • A Free-form journal is a compilation of dreams, aspirations, thoughts and memories that provide insights into how they unfold over time.


The question whether the teacher should read journals is disputable. On the one hand, you may wish to provide privacy so that students would experience maximum freedom for expressing their thoughts and emotions. If you keep on the razor-edge of the students’ privacy, the formats mentioned above suit you well.

On the flipside, reading entries and making rare comments helps to establish trust relationship with students. Consider the diary formats that are more appropriate for educational needs. Suggest wordings such as: “Today I discovered that… I also learned that … I concluded that…”. Such journal rubric will allow you to see the student’s insights or misconceptions.

Microtheme is another useful type of journaling. Here, students write a summary to a text, lecture, or experiment on the one side of an index card. A teacher writes feedback on the other side of the note card. This form of one-to-one interaction builds trust and encourages more open communication of an educator and learner. It brings mutual respect and understanding as a key factor in establishing fruitful student-teacher relationship.

Whatever journaling practice you bring in the classroom, you’ll see its advantages with half an eye. Let’s have a closer look at the key benefits:

1.   Lower stress rate

Several studies have shown the therapeutic benefits of personal writing for mental and physical health. Describing stressful or traumatic events can help students relieve anxiety, boost immune function and improve overall health.

Stimulate students to write down their thoughts and feelings on different problems, including learning difficulties. Scholars achieve better psychological well-being and benefit in studying.

Throughout the day, students tend to let their minds pile up lots of information. It can be exhausting. Journaling is a stress-relieving activity. Reflecting on the choices and their consequences, they experience mental and emotional resilience.

2.   Stronger writing skills

Journaling is an active learning technique. Obviously, it can enhance writing skills. But it has advantages over the other types of writing.

A diary is a safe place for a student with no rules. So, they can write more freely and even experiement with syntax, forms and styles.

Journaling allows learners to choose the topics they are passionate about. That helps to develop distinct penmanship. Writing experience becomes much more of an enjoyable practice rather than a routine task.

3.   Better concentration and quick decision-making

Keeping a journal leads to determination. Bringing things together results in better understanding and concentration. Journaling helps to detect the problem, its roots and consequences.

For example, writing about the feeling of idleness student feels over the past few weeks helps to visualize the subsequent decrease in academic rates. Using a brainstorming technique, students can see the way to overcome obstacles and solve their problems.

4.   Enhanced self-awareness and better classroom relationships

Ask your students how often do they dwell on their thoughts and feelings and decide how to ‘manage’ them. Emphasize the importance of journals for examining past experiences, evaluating actions, and drawing insights for encountering future challenges.

A regular writing practice allows students to see themselves as individuals as they can observe patterns in their thinking and behaviors. Records help to track progress and personal transformation, changes in personal and classroom relationships and see where interests, strengths, or obstacles in learning originate.

5.   Better defined future goals and increased motivation

If most of your students are still uncertain about their future goals or career, journaling can help them.

It’s effective when scholars describe their interests, ambitions, and dreams on the paper. The more precise the description is, the more the brain will notice opportunities, tools, and resources for the achievement of that goal. Journaling allows adjusting these steps further.

This approach inspires career planning. Writing about one’s goals makes them clear, increasing motivation and individual responsibility.

Explain to your students that journaling is not a dull task. Looking forward, it can become an entrenched habit that would continue to yield benefits after school.

Make sure your expectations are reasonable from the beginning. Give them time to incorporate journaling into their lives. In due course, they will enjoy its numerous benefits and gain confidence in storytelling.

About the author: Michelle Brooks specializes in freelance writing, professional article editing for EssayHub. Besides her career, Michelle is interested in art, psychology and self-development.

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