Why every student should keep a learning journal

Kate Myers is a Professional Learning Specialist at IXL with five years of experience as a middle school English teacher.

When considering student work, it can be helpful to have multiple avenues in the classroom to track progress, check for understanding, and determine necessary interventions. 

One helpful tool can be a learning journal. A learning journal helps students make sense of their learning through writing. Not only does it allow learners to easily document and share their work with others, but it also promotes critical thinking and reflection.

Plus, having learners keep an IXL journal in conjunction with their work on IXL can be useful for: 

  • Helping students slow down and evaluate their work
  • Creating collaboration opportunities
  • Encouraging self-remediation 
  • Monitoring student growth 

Let’s take a closer look at the different ways you can use a journal with IXL!

Help students cement understanding 

No matter what skill students practice in IXL, they’ll always receive detailed explanations if they submit an incorrect answer. These explanations remind students of key vocabulary and concepts, and sometimes even walk them through a detailed solution to the question. Keeping a journal can help students learn from their mistakes better!

Instead of skimming over these answer explanations, encourage learners to further synthesize them in their journals. For science topics, for example, students can jot down the definitions of important terms or copy helpful charts and diagrams. And for English skills, they can use the explanations to reflect on why their submitted answer wasn’t the best answer. 

Asking students to jot down a few words that summarize the most important parts of the answer explanation allows them to analyze the explanation at a deeper level, pull out the most meaningful information, and practice the essential skill of summarizing information. 

Use journals for collaboration 

With IXL Group Jam, you can easily weave collaboration into your daily instruction. For example, students can form teams to participate in Group Jams. Using one student’s IXL account, students in the group could work together to answer the question presented. 

The IXL journals could be used for everyone to copy down the skill, or for a designated person within the group to log discussions and answer explanations. Not only does this allow students to work together, but it also allows them to practice justifying answer choices in a written format—an essential tool for higher education.

Empower independent learning in math 

If your class is currently working on IXL math with scratch paper, instruct them to solve problems in their journals instead.

Having students write down their thought processes while working on math skills can make self-remediation much easier. When students submit an incorrect answer, IXL immediately provides the correct answer and step-by-step explanations. They can look back at their journals and compare their work to the right solution to determine where they went wrong. 

Plus, keeping their work in one organized place makes it easy for students to reference past problems when reviewing for quizzes.

Dive into student performance 

Journals can also provide teachers with an additional tool for measuring student knowledge! With journal entries, you can easily check for student completion of assigned skills. Have learners write the date and the name of the skill at the top of each entry to create a curated log of work completed in IXL. 

Plus, compare student work in journals to insights in IXL Analytics for an even better picture of how to inform classroom instruction. For example, teachers can use IXL’s Questions Log to check for commonly missed questions. Then, check the student’s written process in their journal to uncover why they may be struggling. 

Together, the journal and IXL Analytics, allow educators to take a closer look at student work, identify any patterns, and easily create small groups or individual sessions for reteaching. 

With all of these implementation ideas around journals, teachers have the potential to provide student support across multiple resources. The IXL journal is not so much an additional step but instead a part of the comprehensive picture that IXL paints in supporting each student at the individualized level and illuminating opportunities for them to grow. 

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