Journal writing will be a big part of this unit. I find that journal writing is one of the most exciting and creative types of writing that my students regularly take part in. I emphasize creativity in the journals that I require my eighth graders to keep. They are never penalized for spelling or grammar in their journals because the entries are all about their ideas. I want students to feel free to express themselves in their writing. I want them to enjoy their ideas and allow themselves the freedom to not worry about form, structure, grammar and the elements that we regularly examine during other types of writing such as essay and research writing.
Journal writing combined with literature is meant to lead students to the type of higher-order thinking that the latest changes in educational curriculum aim to enhance. Students make connections, take critical stances and are able to think past the literal interpretation that so often characterizes traditional assessment.
Journal writing will work easily into this unit. After class discussions on the pairs of literature students will be asked to comment in their journals. Another aspect of journal writing that is especially helpful is that it is an easy way to get students to share their work. I always ask students to share what they have written with classmates when they are done writing. It is not mandatory to share, but it is encouraged, and I find that most students enjoy reading their work out loud. The more they share, the more they enjoy the writing. In this unit journal writing will help to extend the conversation that we have about the literature and about architecture. I will ask my students to set aside a section of their journals for this unit. The possible topics are endless. Trying to get students to choose a topic that makes those connections to higher order thinking is key to a successful unit.
Some possible journal topics:
- Write a story based on the pair
- List the elements of place and architecture that shape the characters in the story
- Write one character's description of how his/her setting makes him/her feel
- Describe a setting that affects you and your personality
- How do different buildings make you feel?
- Write a soliloquy from a place's point of view
- Compare two settings
- Analyze an aspect of a place (shading, texture, color, composition)
- Describe your special place. How does it make you feel?
- How might your most comfortable place make others feel?
- Write an interview with one character in another's setting