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December 7, 2011

3 Journal Management Techniques for Teachers

Written By: Brandi Jordan
X Journal Management Tips and Tricks

Journal Management Tips and Tricks

Without a doubt, journal writing is a really good way to encourage students to express themselves daily.  Kindergarteners through high school seniors can benefit from daily journaling, but for teachers, managing two or three dozen journals can be overwhelming.  The journal management techniques below are classroom tested and are sure to make journal grading/reading a lot easier.

Journal Management Made Easy

Colors and Dots

Marla, a 2nd Grade Teacher, from Chenoa, IL spreads journal reading out throughout the week using an easy to implement management technique.  “We do a lot of journal writing and I like to respond to all of them,” she explains.  “I put colored stickers on the front of each journal. I give each day of the week a color. For example, Monday is pink, Tuesday is yellow, etc. On Monday, only the journals with pink stickers turn them in. This way I only have 3-5 journals to read every day. You can purchase white dot stickers and color-code them if you can’t find colored stickers. When I only have 4-5 to read I tend to respond better to what the students wrote.”

Alphabetical Order

Make responding to journal writing a snap with this easy alphabetical order technique.  Have a hanging file folder for each student and arrange them alphabetically by first or last name.  Store journals in the folders and each day grab a few hanging folders to take home with you.  By keeping them in alphabetical order, you can be sure that you have graded them all and not skipped anyone’s journal.


Flag It

Create bookmarks for each student’s journal that can quickly indicate which ones have been checked.  Cut a manila file folder in 2-inch wide strips.  At one end write “Take a Look!” and at the other end write “Super Writer!”  After a student has written in his journal, he places the bookmark in it with the “Take a Look!” side peeking out and places it in his chair pocket.  After you have read and recorded the journal entry, turn the bookmark to the opposite end and have “Super Writer!” visible.  To be able to see the progress of journal grading at a quick glance, color code the ends before writing on them with red for “Take a Look!” and green for “Super Writer!”


How do you stay on top of reading and recording your students’ journals?  Do you bring them home with you every night or spread them out throughout the week?  Share your ideas with us below or on the Really Good Teachers forums!

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  • Christina D.
    May 8, 2012

    I think these journals would help students think about solving math word problems.

  • Cathy Hammett
    May 7, 2012

    I love the color dot idea for responding to student journals. I will most definitely try this.

  • Donna Kruithof
    May 6, 2012

    The colored dot idea is wonderful – especially combined with the double-sided bookmark: “Take a Look” and “Super Writer”. This sounds like a workable solution. Currently my students write and then we pull popsicle sticks to choose who will share the writing with the class. I usually say “When we are finished, I will have 5 students read to us from their journal.” This encourages the lazy ones to write, because they do not know who will be chosen. Sometimes we schedule time for more students to share later. This usually happens when the students are excited about the writing.

  • The Resourceful Teacher
    March 21, 2012

    I agree completely. I use journal writing with my fourth graders every day.

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