Journal Topics for Writing Class

As a writing teacher, I love having my students write in a journal for the first 5 minutes of class. It establishes a routine of how we will begin class each time and also gets them in the habit of writing. I find that the only time most students write is for formal assignments. Journal writing can help them experience writing their feelings and thoughts on papers, knowing there is no right or wrong answer and knowing that their grammar won’t be corrected. I have my students buy a composition notebook and only use it for journaling. I collect it every Wednesday (for a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class) and give 2 points for every journal entry completed. They can not make up journals once I have collected them for the week. (This saves me from grading 30 journal entries for each student at the end of the semester!) This is an easy yet useful way to get points. It usually ends up to be about 70 points at the end of the semester.  I also make it a response journal. They write and I respond. It’s usually just 1 sentence asking a question or making a comment, but they know that I read it and care about what they write. Sometimes it creates whole conversations and really helps you to learn about your students. I actually enjoy grading these! So that’s how I utilize the journal writing process in my classroom.

Here are some topics I use for my freshman composition class, but they can also work for ESL writing classes, who would also benefit very much from journal writing:

- Why is writing important?  (this is always my first  AND last  journal topic)

-What is your biggest fear?

- What is your  favorite childhood memory?

-What is the most appealing non-physical quality of the opposite sex?

- What is one thing you would change about your personality?

-What is one thing you wouldn’t change about your personality?

- What is the one country you would love to travel to and why?

- Do we depend on technology too much?

- If you were stranded in a foreign country with no money, what would you do?

- Is lying ever ok?

- Do you believe in ghosts?

- Tell about a time when you got undeserved criticism.

-Does racism exist today?

- If you could live in a different time period, which time would you choose and why?

- Explain why attitude is everything.

- What do you use to make a first impression of someone?

- What’s something really good that has happened to you lately?

- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

- What is your life motto?

- If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

- Tell me about your hometown.

- What makes a person dependable?

- How have you changed since coming to college?

- If you could go back in time and meet any person, who would it be and why?

- If you had to live outside your home country for a year, where would it be and why?

- Describe the most interesting person in your family.

- Describe a funny moment in your life.

-  How does the media affect our body image?

-How do smart phones affect relationships negatively?

- Do you think the phrase “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is a good way to live?

- What do you think about immigration to the US?

- What was your most embarrassing moment?

 

ESL students usually take longer to write a journal entry. They may take 10-15 minutes. So, if you don’t want to spend that much class time on it, you may want them to do a complete the sentence activity. I write this on the board at the beginning of class, and they can either write about it or think about it (usually they choose to write), and then we discuss it, which incorporates the speaking aspect of course. It usually takes 5-7 minutes total. They key is that they only have to complete the one sentence.  Here are some ideas for complete the sentence:

- I get angry when…

- Last summer…

-My parents…

- In high school…

- When I was a child…

- I am really looking forward to…

- My favorite vacation was…

- When I have free time…

- I get stressed when…

- I think people should…

- I see my greatest weakness as…

-I see my greatest strength as…

- Being a friend means…

- I feel lonely when…

- I am most talented at…

- My favorite hobby is…

I hope these were helpful. If you have any journal topics you have used that you found to be quite successful, please share! And, as always, please share via social media if you have some teacher friends you think could benefit from reading this.

One thought on “Journal Topics for Writing Class

  1. What a lovely idea Ashley! When I have the opportunity to teacher higher level students, I’ve found that small group /pairs or mingles on the topic or question help them in getting those ideas going before they start writing.

    One day, maybe I’ll get a chance to teach writing like you. Until then, hugs from Thailand :)

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