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Spotlight on Strategies:Journals

Play a video segment, without students taking notes. After, students record on folded paper, on the left a picture to represent something they learned (non-linguistic representation of their learning) and on the right, write a few sentences or phrases describing their picture, or additional facts from the segment (a linguistic explanation of their illustration). Share.

Big idea

The purpose of this strategy is to have students summarise their learning through drawing a picture and writing a few phrases or sentences. Carol Ann Tomlinson wrote: "There is ample evidence that students are more successful in school and find it more satisfying if they are taught in ways that are responsive to their readiness levels (Vygotsky, 1986), interests (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997) and learning profiles (Sternberg, Torff, & Grigorenko, 1998)." Creating activities that activate one or more of these areas can be challenging but, when it's possible, there are rewards for all.

Overview of strategy



paper, pen/pencils, and a video segment or reading passage that supports your current topic

  1. Explain to students they will be viewing a video segment and recording information they learn from the segment afterwards. 
  2. Play a video without students taking notes while they watch. 
  3. After viewing the video, students fold a piece of paper in half; or use left and right pages of their books. 
  4. On the left hand side of the page, have students draw a picture with labels to represent something they learned. This allows a non-linguistic representation of their learning.
  5. On the right hand side, have students write a few sentences or phrases describing their picture or additional facts from the segment. This provides a linguistic explanation of their illustration. Note: This activity allows for students with earlier stages of vocabulary development to write a few words, while more advanced students may choose to add several sentences.
  6. Have students share their journal pages with a neighbour to discuss their drawing and summaries. You may also want to collect journal pages or notebooks to provide students with feedback.
Sum it up

This strategy is a great way to for students to summarise what they have learned. It's also a great way for students to visualise and write about their learning.

More ideas
  • Journaling helps students develop, practise, and refine their understanding. Have students try out different types of journaling, such as interactive notebooks or notice boards.
  • Introduce students to the concept of graphic organisers.

Try another? Check out or view all.

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