My students have to write every day in a journal/planner that I’ve developed for them. Most of the time I don’t care what they write about, as long as they do it. I always give them a prompt in case they can’t think of a topic, but rarely do I require them to write on it.
So most of the time it’s just mundane everyday stuff. Sometimes it’s filled with the drama of eighth grade social strife. Sometimes it’s stories. Sometimes it’s poetry.
A few years ago I stopped letting them draw pictures. I hated doing it because I hate limiting creativity, and I love the visual aspect of literacy. But it got to a point where there was more drawing going on than writing or reflecting. And it wasn’t even good or thoughtful drawing. It was just filler.
This year a particularly talented student has discovered a loophole. I only saw these while checking their binders before Christmas break. So I had no prior knowledge of them. After her first entry of the kind, it didn’t take long for her buddies to catch on.