Warm-ups / Journal Entries

Warmup Journal  (c) Kristen Dembroski

Do you do warm-ups or journal entries in your classroom? This is SUCH a good idea for so many amazing reasons:

1. Your students need time to center themselves and transition their thinking between subjects.
2. It insures that you will do some writing every day.
3. Routine, routine, routine!
4. Students enjoy them. They can be creative, personal, inspiring, etc.
5. It’s a great way for students to track their own progress throughout the year.
6. It’s a great place to start generating ideas for longer writing pieces.
7. You can use it to introduce the big idea or topic of the day. Students can active their prior knowledge.
8. It can be used as an opportunity to review concepts from the previous day.
9. It provides immediate feedback (informal assessment) on your students’ state of mind. You can see who’s on task, who’s having a rough day, who needs a writing utensil, and how students are progressing toward your various learning targets, etc.
10. It gives you some time to do attendance and circulate your classroom to observe students.

I aim to do a warm-up or journal entry every single day. The type of warm-up / journal changes throughout the year, of course. But I always begin the year with ideas from my favorite teacher author, Kelly Gallagher. Though I am pretty sure I own all of his books, this one is his most recent, and my current favorite 🙂

Write Like This - Kelly GallagherNot to brag or anything, but I did get to meet him in person. He hugged me. And he signed my book.

Kelly Gallagher Signature (c) Kristen Dembroski

But I digress…

Anyway, this book is filled with some phenomenal warm-up or journal ideas. The reason I love to start the year with these is because I also want a chance to get to know my students personally. Here is a list of my favorite warm-ups from “Write Like This”:

* Six-Word Memoir
* Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
* Favorite Mistakes
* The Bucket List
* Childhood Games
* A Watermark Event
* A Treasured Object
* Top 10 Lists
* Unwritten Rules
* How Does ___ Work

His book is designed around different purposes for writing, including Express and Reflect, Inform and Explain, Evaluate and Judge, Inquire and Explore, Analyze and Interpret, Take a Stand/Propose a Solution. It’s a great reminder to us as Language Arts teachers that we must make sure to tap into each of these kinds of writing equally (I’m sure we all have our favorite, but… ). And I like to remember that each of my students (and myself, too!) have different strengths and weaknesses with each kind of writing. It’s important to explore and develop our writing skills in multiple ways.

Some other great sources for warm-up or journaling ideas are:

* Visit the “Writing Prompts” website. There are some very thought-provoking questions.
* Check out the “National Geographic Photo of the Day“. Have students write what they think is happening, a story based on the photograph, etc.
* Purchase “Descriptive Creative Writing: Show Me!” This is a complete writing workshop unit CCSS, lesson plans, discussion / activities, handouts, and rubric.

Descriptive Writing (c) Kristen Dembroski




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