Hope you are enjoying a little summer relaxation and are able to find extra time to write in your journal. Teachers and students may be especially pleased with their less structured days. Eleventh grade English teacher, Linda Janoff, incorporates journal writing exercise when she teaches writing to her advanced placement (AP) classes. Linda offers an interesting perspective–whether or not you are an educator–on the value of journal writing,.
On a related education note, I’m pleased to report that the University of Phoenix Doctor of Management and Organizational Leadership program has included LifeJournal in its journaling module. To capture both their academic thoughts and personal reflections and growth the doctoral students are required to keep a journal for the three years they are in the program.
I often receive e-mail from college students-graduate and undergraduate-who use LifeJournal as part of their studies. Many people in graduate school-nursing, education, psychology, counseling programs-have to keep a journal as part of their respective programs. LifeJournal is a perfect tool for these students.
There is an important article about how to make sure you don’t lose any journal data. As a long time journal writer, I know that your journal entries are very valuable. The message is backup your journal data often!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Notes on Journaling from a High School English Teacher
Tips: Backing Up Your Journal Data
How To Purchase LifeJournal
When I started teaching writing in high school, my challenge was to overcome students’ tendencies–whether innate or programmed–to strive merely to meet the expectations of their teachers. For students, writing was an exercise in figuring out “what the teacher wants.”
I wanted my students to get in touch with themselves, to write for themselves. I believe that a teenager who is aware of his/her inner voice, gains self-respect, and that an awareness of his/her own dignity leads a student to respect others. My ultimate goal, you might have perceived, is world peace.
But back to the reality of the English classroom–how to help students contact their inner voices and learn to feel worthy of, have confidence in, and enjoy expressing themselves.
My first question to a writing class is, “Who do you spend the most time with?” After some discussion about friends, family, and pets, the light dawns, and one student says, “Myself.” We move to a discussion of how uncomfortable middle school was (a universal memory) because we were not satisfied with ourselves and felt there were expectations we had to meet. We share anecdotes. Sharing common experiences makes a group feel psychologically safe.
I even tell the class about the time in grade nine when I was desolate because I could not wrestle my hair into the perfect flip (the 60s) that popular Jane wore. I then tell my students about the liberation I felt in realizing that I had my hair and not Jane’s hair, and that since I was the person I spent the most time with, I was the person I should make happy. My goal is to help my students feel less threatened about the concept of expressing their own ideas in their own voices.
I then have the students do “Two Minute Writes” which I learned from a facilitator at a literacy workshop. I ask my students to jot down 5 to 10 positive memories and 5 to 10 negative memories. I tell the students to select one memory to narrate in writing, and that I will stop them in two minutes. When the two minutes are up, the kids groan. They groan! I snuck in a journaling assignment and they beg to have more time to write
Another exercise we do in class is “Writing Sparks.” Students take turns introducing writing ideas to the class, and then we all (teacher, too) write for 10 minutes. A student tells about “what got me thinking” and then presents a writing topic to the class.
I usually model the exercise with a summary of the ubiquitousness of cup holders, and then I ask “Does our need for cup holders say something about our culture?”
One girl told about noticing the calloused hands of a friend on the rowing team, and the situation prompted her to ask her classmates, “What do your hands say about you?”
During the Bosnian conflict, one boy ruminated about the rules governing prisoner of war exchanges. He asked us to write about the irony of enemies’ abiding by rules during war time.
After writing for 10 minutes, students put their writing in their writing folders. I never look at them. The students can use the sparks as fodder for future writing assignments or for their own purposes.
In the curriculum, we have only ten weeks’ time for writing sparks. Throughout the year students ask me repeatedly to reinstate the exercise, and in their year-end evaluations students invariably cite the sparks as one of their favorite activities.
I will not enumerate other writing opportunities we have in English classrooms. I hope you can see the power of the two “journaling” exercises I described. A student is enjoying writing for which he/she is the sole audience! What a wonderful validation of self worth.
Linda Janoff teaches 11th grade AP English Language and Composition classes and chairs the English department at Pine View School for the Gifted in Sarasota, Florida.
Because personal writing is valuable LifeJournal has built in features to help prevent loss of your data. For example, when you close a journal entry, it is automatically saved. And, when you close or open the program, your journal files (YourName.ljd) are automatically backed up (YourName.ljbak). For version 1.4 saved in theYourName folder in the LifeJournal directory.
However, as with all digital data, there is always a chance that journal files will unexpectedly be lost. There is no software or hardware that has a 100% foolproof data saving system. There are simple steps to backup your file and save the data and LifeJournal makes these steps easy. We strongly recommend that you regularly backup your journal data to a stable removable medium like a CD-R or zip cartridge. Here’s how to do a full and reliable backup:
The file YourName.ljbak will be saved when you backup your journal.YourName.ljbak is the backup file for all your journal data-journal entries, Daily Pulses entries, Letters to the Future, customizable quotes and prompts—everything that is your journal data (other than your personal dictionary which is found inYourName.tlx.) The YourName.ljbak file cannot be opened by double clicking on it, or using the Open command. It is password protected and encrypted.
I try to make a habit of backing up my journal data to a CD-R before I leave the program. That way, if the program or my computer closes unexpectedly, I have a current backup of the journal files. I could back up to a different directory of the hard drive, but if my hard drive crashes, I will have lost the data.
If you need to restore the journal entries from a backup and you are able to open and enter the LifeJournal program here’s how to do it from the removable media:
If you open the LifeJournal program and your journal data file is corrupted and therefore unopenable, you will get the message “Your journal failed to open. Would you like to restore it from a backup file?” Click Yes and a dialog box will open asking from where you would like to bring the data, Automatic or Your Choice. Select the Automatic option. If that doesn’t work, copy your backup file that is on the removable medium onto your desktop and Browse to that copy to. restore your data.
Remember a few important general rules about working with backup files: (1) label the disk or cartridge carefully so that you know you are working with your most up-to-date files and (2) when using a backup file to restore your journal, copy it onto your desktop and use the copy when restoring the journal data, so that the original backup file stays intact while you are trying to restore it.
An additional note: If you try to copy a large image into your journal data, the program may crash. You may lose the journal entry that you had just written. We recommend that you don’t save large images into the LifeJournal program. We are working on this problem and will improve this feature in the next version (2.0), due out in late 2002/early 2003.
As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it.
As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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Sarasota, FL 34230
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