At a recent PD workshop I learned how to use (and make my own!) flippable ELA journals. The idea is to help your students organize their notes and responses into categories and subjects so the journal can be a resource for them throughout the school year. One side is devoted to reading while the other side focuses on writing, and students get to decorate the covers however they want – which can make it a great ice-breaker activity at the beginning of the year! Here’s mine:
The sticky note tabs indicate various categories recommended at my workshop; you could easily modify this part depending on what kinds of skills you want your students to focus on.
Much as I love this concept, right now I don’t plan to have quite such a detailed structure to the writing students complete in class, and I want them to have a space for personal writing as well. I had originally planned to just have two tabs (class writing in front half, personal journal in back) but I’d much rather do these flippable journals! I’ve modified my covers so it can still serve as a model:
For the inside covers, I glued down the first page on either side. On the personal side, I plan to have them write down a list of things they love and things they hate, so if they’re suffering from writer’s block they have some quick topics to choose from. I’m thinking the academic side will become their own little word wall with vocab terms.
One concern I have about combining class and personal journals is that I’d hate for my students to lose drafts/notes/etc because I let the journals leave the room, but I’m trying hard to keep my expectations high. I might have some disasters early on, but my hope is that I can help my middle schoolers learn to be organized and responsible for their materials, and the natural consequences of losing work and being unprepared will help them keep better track of their writing in the future!