Since my last blog on using thinking journals I’ve been asked for some tips and ideas about getting started. Some of the points and questions raised include:
What about children who don’t like writing, find it difficult or simply won’t write?
The real point of thinking journals is that it is a place to record thoughts – not necessarily a place to make children write.
They can be encouraged to use the journal in different ways: drawing pictures, diagrams, cartoons etc. - asking an adult to scribe for them or having an older child (year 2 with a year 5 for example) who is their ‘Thinking Partner’.
The journal is just a springboard into thinking and speaking & listening, so having someone to talk through their thoughts and ideas can help lots of children.
If you do a collective thinking session (P4C or similar) the adult can be the scribe for the collective thoughts that come from that session. (you could perhaps try having a Class Thinking Journal?)
If you then follow up by giving children some individual time to write in their own journals - some children will write their own thoughts and some will copy those from the collective session – that can be a good way to support them and get them going.
Other ideas for sessions that could include the use of Thinking Journals:
Designing new inventions - children draw write and annotate their ideas to improve the world - like real inventors jotting down the ‘germs ‘ of new ideas.
Interactive journals used with EAL children – helping with vocabulary and/or 'real time' support from TAs or other ‘buddies.’
Thinking Journal time can follow a drama lesson or an outdoor learning session where things can be jotted down whilst they are fresh in the mind.
Use of starters to stimulate children’s thinking and use of the journals:
‘What have I learnt that is new?’
New words I have discovered (which do I understand / not understand)
The hardest part about learning this was…. The best part……. What was most interesting…..?
I solved this problem by……
I predict that….
My feelings about…. (something that has happened in school – in the news – in their own lives)
How I might improve my thinking / listening…
Something I have learnt this week – and reflections on how I learned it. Could there have been a better way for me to learn that?
And of course you can use specific thinking activities that can last for just a short time (10 -15 mins) or be taken further through longer philosophy sessions.
Let’s Think Homework is a digital download resource that provides those type of starter activities. They can be started in the classroom until children get used to using their Thinking Journals and/or sent home for the rest of the child’s family to get involved.
Do let me know how you use your Thinking Journals so I can share with others.