Home Journals: Authentic Writing & Communication Between Home & School
I was speaking with a colleague of mine who was both looking for additional opportunities for authentic writing in her Grade 4 classroom as well as ways in which to foster greater communication between home and school.
I was so excited! I told her that I had just the thing!
In fact, if you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see students writing in their Home Journals every Friday. Every Friday students write letters home to their parents about their week. Home Journals help to answer the age-old “dinner table question”, “What did you do at school this week?”. These journals also provide parents, students and teachers with weekly examples/snapshots of individual writing skills development.
The process is as follows:
1. As a class brainstorm a list of the week’s events (e.g. assemblies, Spirit Days, class parties/celebrations, field trips, test, presentations, guest speakers, etc.), classes and topics/concepts addressed, and so forth.
2. Using proper letter writing format students write a letter home about their week. They are reminded that we write to entertain as well as to inform. We want to draw our readers in and tell them all about our fabulous week.
3. Students end their letters by writing: “P.S. Please write back”. Parents/guardians are expected to respond by writing a letter back to their child over the weekend.
1. I use Hilroy notebooks. I keep the notebooks and hand them back at the end of the school year. They are wonderful keepsakes! It’s also interesting and entertaining for students to take some time at the end of the year to reread their books and reflect; reflect on their year as well as their development as writers.
We always manage to share a giggle or two as well!
2. Although Home Journals are never graded (in fact as their classroom teacher I do not touch them), they can be used as one more means of assessing student writing skills as the year progresses.