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>Hello, Linda.  Here's a quick response to your questions of a learning
journal.  I hope these comments are helpful...

Beth Camp  Linn-Benton Community College
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>Questions:
>How do you evaluate journals?  (I feel assigning points encourages students
>to do their best work.)*** I evaluate by reading quickly and making a
summary comment that responds to the content of what students have written.
Each journal earns points based on two criteria:  number of entries written
and thoughtfulness of entries.  That seems to work to weed out most of the
last-minute entries... :)  Sometimes I'll collect entries each time class
meets; other times I'll collect journals twice a term.  I also encourage
students to use their learning journals during in-class tests.
>
>How do you get them to do good work (thoughtful, insightful)?  Or is it
>impossible to get this in a journal?  My favorite way is to ask the hardest
questions I can think of -- questions I don't know the answers to, so that
the journal becomes a class exploration we can then talk about in class.
Students seem to be ready to talk more because they have written ahead of
time.  This works wonderfully well in a literature class where everyone
expects there not to be one "right" answer...  I also try to vary questions
and invite students to ask their own questions -- or to write a creative
response (i.e., writing a poem in the style of . . . )  I read somewhere
that students do better by answering WHAT kinds of questions first, so I
usually give them three or four options that include what, how and why kinds
of questions.  Bright students find their own level.  Students at the
beginning of their learning find a way in.
>
>How much writing do you expect?  (I hope they won't try to complete their
>journals in the ten minutes before my class starts.)  I ask for between 3/4
to one full page (single-spaced) and I tell them not to worry about
punctuation, spelling or grammar since the focus here is on responsive
writing.  The number of entries either is 3 per week or one per each story read.
>
> Most of these students are not particularly underprepared.
***Interesting.  My experience comes from writing and literature classes.
In this class, would it be interesting to see how students respond to their
other, more academic classes?  I hope you respond back and tell us what your
students did and what kinds of questions you came up with...
>
Hi from Beth