6. Required Writing Assignment

Free Writing: In this exercise, you will need to set a timer for ten minutes. Then, put your pen to paper and begin writing. You must write words on the paper for the entire period of time. You can start out by writing, "This is stupid, this is dumb, I hate this," but within a few minutes you will find that you are writing and the timer will surprise you.

The purpose of free writing is to loosen up the process. Peter Elbow, author of any number of books on teaching writing, especially teaching writing to adults [Anyone Can Write (2003), Writing with Power (1981), Writing Without Teachers (1973)] is a strong proponent of using free writing. He is an engaging writer himself, and his books offer excellent insight into the writing and revising process.
Optional: Watch this video about free writing:




Look back at the list of your feelings about writing from the Before You Begin activity and post your insights into the free writing process in "Comment." Then read what others have to say.

Other Writing Activities
The following are some other activities you can use with your student to encourage writing:
  1. Language Experience Approach (LEA)
  2. Writing lists, filling out forms, brainstorming and clustering
  3. Journaling

Required Assignment

How does journal writing help develop learning in the adult? What are some concerns raised in this article? How can you, working one on one, make use of the journaling technique? Post a few of your thoughts in "Comments."

80 comments:

Program Coordinator said...

Journaling is an effective writing method to use when teaching writing. It allows a student to experience the written word in the context of their daily experiences. This helps to make a connection between the actual experience, reflection on those experiences, and how the act of writing gives the reader the opportunity to relive these experiences.

Queen Of My Castle said...

Journaling is the most effective way of teaching writing because it actually makes the work feel more important because it pertains to their life. I have a student that I am currently tutoring that I asked that he write just 3 sentences in his journal each day. Journaling doesn't have to start out as a big step!

tutorgirl said...

I can see that journalling would be an effective tool to teach writing. It is easy, requires few tools and is nothard for the learner or the tutor.

It would enable the student to be actively engaged in learning because they would be familiar with the topic, interested in the topic and also relaxed. There are also many spin off activities that you can do from this one activity. I can see building a scrapbook using this method.

Another strength of journalling is that it incorporates "free writing" and less worry about grammer and punctuation due to the privacy of the journal.

Biltz said...

I was really amazed at the one account of the journal writing related to the student's personal histories which was provided in the link. I agree with the other commentors, I think journaling is a tool I will want to use.

Jesse said...

I am getting an error message saying the page is not found.

BOC said...

Journal writing helps adult learners because they are writing about something they know. Sometimes the student's life may have been unhappy, and they might be resistant to thinking about it. But it appears that in a group, they can learn about others and share their own experiences, and that can give them more self confidence.

I think that in order to use journaling in a one on one situation, the teacher might have to write a few things about her life to share with the student also.

BOC said...

Journal writing helps adult learners because they are writing about something they know. Sometimes the student's life may have been unhappy, and they might be resistant to thinking about it. But it appears that in a group, they can learn about others and share their own experiences, and that can give them more self confidence.

I think that in order to use journaling in a one on one situation, the teacher might have to write a few things about her life to share with the student also.

lillian said...

Writing about ones own experiences is good because it becomes something the writer has created and is interested in. And it can be as much or as little as the student is able to handle.

Pat said...

journaling is a wonderful way to start writing. If you keep your writings you can look back and see how you have improved.

Jenny said...

I could not read the article about journaling, but I can see how this would be helpful because the learner is always writing from personal experience.

jack said...

I could not read the article (page not found), however I have witnessed journal writing in special educatiou classes and it works well, it also makes the learner feel good.

Ms. Ovette said...

This article was not available at the site.

demelza99 said...

I think it depends on the person but, for most people, journaling is probably a very good idea. Personally, I do not like to journal.

Rob said...

I agree with the author that journaling can lose its effectiveness if a person does not have a goal in mind. Basic record keeping is fine, but it doesn't make someone a better person. The best journals reach the contemplative stage, forcing the writer to work through difficult problems, do additional research, and work out inconsistencies in his or her way of thinking about a topic.

Sally M said...

Journaling is using your own thoughts and ideas. It is a great jumping point to get people to write about. It helps that they have ideas in a book that they can go to get a start on a writing assignment. Sometimes the hardest part of writing is trying to find a topic but having a journal gives them the ideas.

David H. said...

Journal writing is one of my favorite things to do. I never knew it could be so beneficial in learning how to write or gaining meaning from personal experience. It can be daunting if it is viewed as a chore. I like to think of journaling as an record of personal experience. It can provide a wealth of interesting information of self, our impressions and feelings that we may not otherwise take time to investigate. I am interested to use it in tutoring.

Kristin said...

Free Writing is a great process to get the creative juices flowing. I've done this exercise several times in my own schooling and it trying to figure out what word I want to go with next while writing short stories.

Kristin said...

Reflective journal writing is an effective tool because it, like free writing, allows the learner to write without being judged. I personally think that this is something I may save for a later date with my learner. At first, we will start off with a learning journal so we can open up the dialogue between the two of us about what is effective learning and what the learner wishes I could do better.

Lia Keston said...

Again, I think journaling is particularly helpful in getting people started on improving their writing skills. People often like to speak about themselves, this gives them an opportunity to do - whether or not they choose to share their writing.

Charlie said...

Journaling is a great technique because it skips the prewriting process. The learner will always have something to write about because they are writing about their life. In addition, there is little likelihood that they will stop to correct their mistakes while journaling, which allows for faster, easier writing.

Anne said...

Journaling sounds like a great learning tool. I think it would help reading and writing feel more natural and more similar to speaking. It's also a great way to watch your improvement.

Mutahara said...

Keeping a journal is a very effective method for adult learners. Speaking from personal experience I learnt a lot more in classes that required us to keep a journal as we went along. As a student, it made me creative, made me think and highly improved my writing and understanding skills.

Marian said...

Collecting realia will be a great tool for tutor and learner (optional article #2). The free writing technique will be a great way for the learner to loosen up:
Kale is a sail
On the fall garden ocean
Don't stop
Clop Clop Clop
Keep going
Don't want a towing
No distractions
From invacious factions
Let it be
I can write, you see!
2 minutes to go
Flow Flow Flow
Got grass to mow
It grows, you know
Right up to frost
At no extra cost
Good excercise for you
And the industrious few
Who like to mow the lawn
Noon or dusk or dawn!
A lot came together for me with the free writing assignment. I found myself free rhyming without even trying at the end of the 10 minutes. When keying the above, I became aware of my first instinct to correct punctuation (add commas, delete caps), which is a good lesson for The language experience writing to come. This is also a good lesson about possible road blocks to sharing - will have to impart that it's ok to be silly in between the grocery lists!

IJM said...

Journal writing helps the adult develop their learning through recording (and reinforcing) words prevalent in their daily lives, from a non-threatening, non-formulaic approach. Journal writing also helps develops the learner's voice in writing. A potential problem with journaling is privacy; if it is a journal, do I have the right to read the learner's private thoughts, and if so, would this make the learner feel uncomfortable, or change the content of their writing? I think the journaling technique can be well-applied with brief prompts, or with the 'dialogue' option, asking the learner to carry out a dialogue with someone who has impacted their life. Overall, it seems like a great starter technique to warm up the learner to writing.

Jo L said...

Journaling raises awareness and through the iterative process, one can discover what they didn't know they knew, or didn't know they didn't know. Valuable insight on multiple levels: skills, actions, and attitudes.

Ms. Educator said...

Journaling is a means of self-expression. I personally like the literature log because it gives the learner the ability to relate to the subject matter, and then interpret it in a way that they are comfortable/familiar with. It also gives the tutor the ability to focus on the learners growth over time; concentrating in areas where improvement is needed. One of the difficulties of journaling for the learner would be what to write about. They may know it in their head, but still have a hard time expressing it on paper the way they feel.

Kareemah said...

I am wondering what the purpose of journaling is for any specific learner. Does one automatically use journaling as part of the curriculum for any learner? Obviously, not if the learner cannot write. Though I see the explanations for using it, I am still unsure as to the specific purpose.
What I read was the it allows the learner to see his/her own mental processes, hopefully then one reflects on them. But one of the difficulties articulated is it takes several steps to get to reflection.
The open-endedness of journal writing is one obstacle, and now that it has been articulated, I can say it was one of my obstacles in journaling years ago.
Also, writing with abandonment, but then needing to share it. So, there needs to be discussion about that and an agreement made.
When I get into a tutoring situation, I will have to access how journal writing can be used and in what way it would benefit the person based on the points in this article.

Olivia said...

Journal writing develops learning in the adult because it's a practical way to apply knowledge about language gained in tutoring sessions. One of the concerns the author raises is that tutors won't know what to write about if the prompt is too open-ended. Another concern is that the learner will feel pressured to write what he or she thinks the tutor expects him or her to. I think I could make use of the journaling technique by creating prompts for journal entries that pertain to some of the material we've read in our tutoring sessions.

karenzpt said...

I think that journal writing could be daunting for an adult learner with limited reading and writing capabilities. I like what one person said on a post: have the learner start out with a couple of sentences about something they are personally interested or involved in.
I do think it can be beneficial for certain people; the challenge comes in discerning who might benefit.

JeremyK said...

Keeping a diary/journal can be a very effective strategy for students because they are writing (and, reading back) concerning subjects they care about. This may be more interesting to them than any published book could ever hope to be. There are disadvantages of course. Specifically, might the student censor him-/herself because he knows his work will be read by the instructor? And will the student be completely honest in his/her writing, or will he write with the specific goal of pleasing the instructor in mind? Personally, I think I will incorporate journal keeping into my tutoring regimen. If the student would keep a journal for me to read and I would keep a journal for the student to read, I think that would help to assuage the discomfort that might come from sharing personal thoughts.

rsvmi52 said...

I have been exposed to journaling before and find it to be a diminishing process. At the beginning you are very wordy and descriptive. As time went by,and in my case a short time, your enthusiasim wanes and the exercise becomes shorter and terse. It requires discipline. Perhaps with a student to illustrate progress it may work better.

Lynn said...

I don't like to journal, but have used it on an irregular basis to "process" events in my life. I've written letters that I know I'll never send, or written letters to my younger or older self. Those have been helpful.

neg said...

I read the article but my personal experiences with journals are all negative. What jumps out at me are the reasons given for poor journaling. 1. We didn't ask the right stuff or 2. They did it wrong. Say what?

sefutrell said...

Journaling personalizes the writing process, while eliminating formalities that would normally intensify the pressure to perfect their writing. It allows the student to write freely and naturally about something they enjoy and/or care about.

jujubean101 said...

Journaling can be very personal. If it is read by the tutor it will quickly seem like busy work and be less fun for the learner causing it to lose the personal connection. However if it is not read by the tutor then it seems to lose the learning value.

SNelson said...

I love the idea of journaling, it is a great way to release feelings, ideas, concerns, and opinions.

Danielle said...

I think journaling is a fantastic way to get the student writing comfortably. One interesting fact the article outlined is how journaling can quickly become monotonous, annd how as the tutor we need to set a purpose for journaling with guiding questions for example. Also, as the tutor we need to read the journals and revise them with the student.

When students get comfortable with technology, we can get them started with 'blogging'!

This reminds me of the movie "Freedom Writers" with Hilary Swank, about an English teacher who taught freshman how to write their stories by having them one sentence in their very own journals daily.

Carissa Priebe said...

journaling takes allows writers to use their own voices, which helps them develop that voice. I remember writing reading response journals in college, and I remember how much I enjoyed it because I got to express what I thought about each important event in the book.

Martha said...

Journaling can be an effective learning tool because it reveals the thought processes of the writer, aids memory, identifies mental habits, and it is a safe place to write without concern about evaluation.
One concern was that it may serve more as record-keeping rather than a means of improving critical thinking, however if the student is asked to articulate the connection between new information and what they already know, they are learning critical thinking skills.

Lynne B said...

Keeping a journal of feelings, as after the loss of a loved one, can be helpful in sharing thoughts which you don't feel comfortable voicing out loud. Reflecting on how we grow and deal with problems is evident if we can go back and remember how we handled an event in the past. The personal aspect of a journal can open up new avenues of seeing oneself.

Megan N said...

I love the journal method! As a young girl I used to keep journals and write about everything, now I work on my school newspaper. Writing about what you know, what's on your mind, or what has your interest at the moment is so important. At the end of ten minutes it's like "wow, I wrote all that?"

Kenneth Zen Bodhi said...

Journaling is a good, effective method of writing.

Teiji Epling said...

The 10 minute free writing exercise surprisingly made me think about subjects which I probably would have never explored otherwise. It seems like a great exercise to loosen up from strict thought processes and to pick my own brain.

Journals can help develop an adult personally and professionally, providing a place for quiet reflection and even respectful collaboration of ideas. They can provide an adult a medium for thought process development where he/she can see his or her own thoughts on the page in an informal format which encourages development of new ideas.
Some concerns were distance learning, general academic studies, and professional skills development; all can be assisted by using journaling.
My adult learner and I could use journaling as a sort of informal homework assignment, so that he or she can practice at home or in spare time.

Josh Lipovetsky said...

Freewriting is an absolutely brilliant way to extract ideas hidden in the darkest crevices of your mind. I don't really have any bad experiences with freewriting. I always have more ideas after I finish than when I started.

As for journaling, I agree that it's a very effective learning/teaching tool. I keep a journal where I review my day. When I do creative prompts, it always makes me think in a different way. I love journaling, and my hope is that this passion will come through when I tutor learners.

Unknown said...

I have always had trouble with freewriting because I change my mind mid-sentence, come up with new ideas in the middle of a thought, and/or want to completely switch sentence structure. It wouldn't be as much of a problem if I wasn't such a stickler for spelling and grammar. I feel guilty if a word is misspelt (Brit. spelling; check it!) or my punctuation is off, and God forbid I splice a comma! I feel inadequate, like "bad English major!" if I do any of those things.


There. That was a decent free-write.

Unknown said...

I have always had trouble with freewriting because I change my mind mid-sentence, come up with new ideas in the middle of a thought, and/or want to completely switch sentence structure. It wouldn't be as much of a problem if I wasn't such a stickler for spelling and grammar. I feel guilty if a word is misspelt (Brit. spelling; check it!) or my punctuation is off, and God forbid I splice a comma! I feel inadequate, like "bad English major!" if I do any of those things.


There. That was a decent free-write.

Minette Mauldin said...

I will definitely be finding ways to incorporate journaling into helping adult learners develop their writing skills. Journaling is a great way for an adult learner to gain confidence in writing, connect writing with their everyday life, get their creative juices flowing and shift from focusing primarily on grammar/style to focusing primarily on content.

North Hills Member said...

Unfortunately, I could not find the article at the journaling link. To a large extent, my emails and math handouts for students are journaling: I want to take ego out and think of what would grab the reader, and this does reflect my thoughts about what I want to be as a tutor.

I want to remember my writing is supposed to be a "tool" for the students, so the words they read must reach out to them and be compelling.

Genevieve McCall said...

This article made me think back to times in my education where I've been asked to journal. I ran into some of the pitfalls that the article outlines, for instance writing for the teaching rather than going for genuine reflection. I was more invested in writing what I thought the teacher wanted to hear, because it was an assignment rather coming from my own desire. However, I think with a motivated learner this could be a really useful tool. It's a way to write freely, and go back to review and really understand speaking and writing patters. When connections can be drawn between how we speak and how we write, I think the learner will really take a lot away from that lesson.

Genevieve McCall said...

This article made me think back to times in my education where I've been asked to journal. I ran into some of the pitfalls that the article outlines, for instance writing for the teaching rather than going for genuine reflection. I was more invested in writing what I thought the teacher wanted to hear, because it was an assignment rather coming from my own desire. However, I think with a motivated learner this could be a really useful tool. It's a way to write freely, and go back to review and really understand speaking and writing patters. When connections can be drawn between how we speak and how we write, I think the learner will really take a lot away from that lesson.

Rosa Solano said...

Journal writing is the closest to natural speech and helps students express themselves freely without restrictions of form, audience, or evaluation. However, some of the problems that arise from journal writing is that it is more record keeping than a a learning tool. Also, if a student is told to write freely and then share with the tutor or instructor then it is no longer private. In order to help a student with their writing process it is important to ask a simple question that a student is willing to share with his or her writing.

Dan said...

Journaling is a useful form of self-expression, but it is not for everyone. However, since it is similar to speaking, it allows for one to practice writing naturally and more freely. I always enjoyed journaling assignments since they were easier and incorporated thoughts and feelings in a natural way.

Ajfae said...

Journaling is a spring board to excellent writing. There is no story that a person knows better then their own. It's an exercise that people can feel comfortable with which allows for further development.
Audrey

JoAnn Wells said...

All hail journaling. I think it can be used for anything! I just did a free write exercise in my journal. Prior to that, I did a mind map about music. I think it is most useful as a log of sorts. Just date each entry, and you can see growth in writing, thought development, expression etc. It should be clear whether a student's journal will be private or public, that makes a difference.

Michelle Walker said...

I believe journaling is an excellent tool in learning and growing in literacy. Easy to maintain, as well as a point of reference in growth.

Tony said...

I've never done journaling. I think a student doing the journaling makes sense as a way of checking comprehension. Also it can stimulate further thoughts on a topic. I can see real value for the student in writing, thinking, and comprehending, as well as encouraging an appreciation for what reading and writing can do to expand the student's world.

Jennifer Smith said...

Journal writing encourages people to write. It is very similar to the free writing experience that we were asked to complete. Both activities allow students to practice writing and spelling without the worries of being graded or judged. Ultimately, over time, these activities will help a person to improve their writing skills.

Allison Smith said...

I did feel the creative juices flow out of me with free writing. It teaches students to not be afraid of writing and to just let their thoughts out.

Allison Smith said...

Journaling helps develop writing in adults because it encourages them to view their life experiences as important and interesting; it gives them confidence. Some concerns are a concern of privacy between the student and teacher or that the student will only write what he or she thinks the teacher wants to see. I can use the journaling technique to get the student to begin to enjoy writing.

Melanie Beard said...

I enjoy the timed free write. It allows the writer to write whatever they choose. Many times ideas for longer writing pieces come from the students during a free write.

Janet said...

I think journaling is a great tool because the more you write, the better you get at it. I will definitely use this method as an adult tutor and ask if we can go over the journal entries each time we meet.

Stefanie Craig said...

The free writing process seems to help the creative process and draw out new ideas. I think using free writing can help you develop ideas or thoughts you never even knew you had!
Journal writing can help develop learning in the adult by helping the learner to collect information and then use the information to self-reflect. Since journal writing is similar to free-flow thoughts, it can also help with developing new ideas. One concern expressed in the article is learners do not always see them as helpful, but more of a chore. This may be because learners do not necessarily know how to use journal writing effectively as a learning method. I could use the journal writing technique with a learner to help them start to enjoy writing.

Lucie-Gabrielle Jolicoeur said...

I was never a big fan of the journal approach, so I am glad the articles underlines the importance of using guidelines in the process.

Katie Redmiles said...

I really love the free writing strategy. I have such trouble writing when it is not for assignment. I am over critical of myself when I am not required to finish it at a certain time. With free writing, however, it takes the criticism out the process and just lets the natural flow of ideas to occur.

Michael O said...

I prefer other forms of writing practice to the journal approach, but I appreciate it as an option. I know it can be beneficial to use as a learning tool. I think free writing is another great learning tool, and it removes some of the mental blocks surrounding writing.

mayjason84 said...

Journaling and Adult Learning

I feel that as a Goodskills Literacy Corps tutor journaling will give my participant the freedom to respond without fear all their goals and desires for their education. It will also give me an opportunity to see how they think and were their focus is. Journaling can give me creative ideas for lesson plans. Finally, it can increase the rapport between teacher and student.

Raechon C. said...

I would not want to require my participants to journal. Instead, I would highly recommend it as voluntary activity and would make it clear that sharing is optional.In addition, getting feedback on which tools the learner would most enjoy will allow us to most effectively aid them in the learning process.

Wallace West said...

Journal writing is complete and free expression of self, it is relaxing. It helps you form a personal outline of where you've been and where you want to go. It's freedom from persecution of your thoughts. You begin to get comfortable writing not just what you feel. It like practice without knowing it.

CLC Program Manager said...

I like and practice journaling for personal development. But I, like Raechon C., doubt I would require it and instead would encourage the idea with students, perhaps even as a form of free writing. The way I would deploy journaling in the classroom would be if I provided a general interest topic from which to launch that would remove the issues of student reluctance to share info that is too personal, or writing what students expect me to read.

Regina Cook said...

Upon returning to my original comment, my feelings are unchanged. Goals are critical - what the learner wants to accomplish. Focusing them during the free write onto their vision, will motivate them and remove barriers of anxiety.

I was thrilled to see Clark & Mayer's work in experiential learning identified in Kerka's article! Reflection through journals is an outstanding method for learning. As a note, if a learner is comfortable with technology and moreover, enjoys technology, utilization of an E-Portfolio rather than a paper journal is a great option.

I disagree with Paterson. Although it is important for a student to write regularly in order to improve his or her writing ability, the term 'routine' suggests the journaling to be a cumbersome or even loathsome process. I would rather direct a student to write frequently and at any time day or night as ideas, thoughts, and reflections arise.

Pamela Lee said...

Because I am highly organized, I selected a topic as suggested in the video and wrote about a methodical process. It flowed well, and 10 minutes flew by.

I have not worked with a student that I feel is advanced enough to be comfortable with journaling. The students I had in the past probably would not have been comfortable with it and would have found it cumbersome. Students sometimes do not have a lot of time to spend on class work because they are employed where long hours are required or because they have children or a parent they are caring for.

I can see the advantage for more advanced students, and I have journaled to eliminate stress.

With a student who is comfortable with the process, I can see the benefit working one on one as the tutor can see progress in the student's writing and get an idea about how they feel about what they are learning.

MSTATEN said...

I feel as thought the free write process was helpful. As I stated before it's easier for myself to just spew out ideas and organize later which I believe may be the case for students who are learning to write as well. Will be using this method.

Jacob Doyle said...

Journal writing helps develop techniques in adults in a variety of ways. It help to improve grammar, spelling, and, if used the right way; Comprehension. If provides the student with constant practice with reflection and contemplation. Some of the concerns that were raised included the open-ended nature of journal writing. But for me, that is like criticizing someone who is trying to get in shape for just going out and running as opposed to planning out a fixed route. Practice is practice, and progress is progress. Not everything has to be so rigid.

Maria Olaya said...

Journal writing is a type of writing I struggled with because I never liked open-ended questions. However, I can see how this might help a student who is just being to write as a way to get their thoughts out without making any corrections and revisions. I can also see how to utilize this when working one on one with a student as a warm up to just get their motor skills moving and having them just write.

Missuz Jonez said...

Journal writing allows the student to immediately connect with the subject they are writing about. A journal entry is a way to force the student to have to draw from their own knowledge on the subject and their experiences (prior/present) and summarize them...which relates back to being a good reader. They instantly comprehend the subject matter and the purpose for the words on the paper and the object is that this allows them to be free thinkers and less inhibited to just write. Some cannot ascribe though to the effectiveness of learning by journaling because of it's lack of structure and informality as an assignment. People respond to and learn things in many different ways, so it's up to the tutor to assess their students needs and ways to learn.

Kristi Lisech said...

How does journal writing help develop learning in the adult? What are some concerns raised in this article? How can you, working one on one, make use of the journaling technique?
Journaling gives the learner an opportunity to freely put thoughts onto paper and then get feedback from the teacher. Free-writing lets the learner write without worrying about mechanics and spelling. This helps to develop creativity in a student's writing, connect with the writing topic, and organize thought processes for written expression. Journaling is a good way to facilitate a conversation with the student while sitting one on one to teach the steps of revision and editing.

Joe said...

I enjoy writing and have never been afraid to write.

Some Adult Learners fear writing, may at first be hesitant to write because of past schooling experiences and backgrounds.

Also, they may be self-critical, and have a fear of being criticized.

Tina Boster said...

I think the journaling process can be effective as long as the teacher has specified the purpose of the journal and who will be reading the journal.

Aaron Maldonado said...

I think the student using journal is a good for them is a good way for them to practice writing, however it maybe hard for the student to share what they wrote in their journal.

Jada Steward said...

Free writing and journal keeping have potential to encourage daily writing habits in adult learners. However, methods such as journal keeping and 10 minute free writes seem to be more accessible to advanced writing level students.