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Student Journaling and Writing Confidence

Megan Fondell
ED 626 Classroom Research
University of Alaska Southeast Dr. Elizabeth Hartley
November 29, 2017

This qualitative action research study examines the impact that dialogue journaling has on

students’ writing confidence. I collected data over a three-week period during the fall of the

2017 school year. During the study I looked for changes in students’ attitudes towards their

writing as well as their opinions of writing while implementing a daily dialogue journaling

routine in my classroom. The study is a narrative analysis of observations, surveys, and

interviews. My interpretation of this data revealed a positive impact on students’ feelings

towards writing after the journaling intervention. Students noticed their writing improving and

also were eager to continue writing in their journals even after the intervention was complete. In

addition, I gained a better understanding for my students and felt that the journaling routine

helped to strengthen our relationships.


Student Journaling and Writing Confidence

Moving into my second year of teaching in the fall of 2017 I realized that one area that

my students seemed to lack the most confidence in their abilities was on the topic of writing.

Being a only a second-year teacher, I also felt a little unsure of my teaching abilities on the

subject and began searching for a way to not only increase my students’ confidence, but to create

a consistent writing routine in my classroom. That is where I discovered the concept of dialogue

Dialogue journaling consists of an unscripted written dialogue between two or more

people, in this case, between the students and myself. During their journaling time, students are

free to write about whatever may be on their minds, without worrying about spelling or grammar,

but simply writing. In response, I would write back to students in their journals, commenting or

asking questions to spur further writing. This free and open-ended communication seemed like

an excellent opportunity to allow my students more time to write, while also allowing them the

freedom to express the things that were on their minds.

As I began the research study, my goal was to understand how the implementation of a

daily dialogue journaling routine in my classroom would impact students’ writing confidence.

Through collecting and analyzing various data sources related to their writing confidence, I

looked for specific patterns or changes in their opinions on writing in general as well as their

own writing.
A Literature Review
The utilization of journals in the classroom is a practice that has been adopted by teachers

for decades. However, current research and studies have looked into the effectiveness of

utilizing student journals to impact student learning and relationships. This study is intended to

look into the impact that dialogue journaling has on increasing student confidence in writing,

creating more fluency and engagement in the classroom. Dialogue journaling consists of an

unscripted form of journaling between students and the teacher. Students are allowed to share

whatever thoughts are on their mind, which the teacher is able to respond to in written form

adding their own thoughts or asking further questions. In this format of journaling, a kind of

written dialogue takes place between the student and the teacher. Previous research has found

that student journaling is linked to an increase in the quantity of student writing and their

engagement to the learning (Hail, George, & Hail, 2013), student confidence and their quality of

writing produced (Jones & East, 2010), as well as having a positive impact on the teacher/student

relationship (Anderson, Nelson, Richardson, Webb, & Young, 2011).

Student journaling is defined by the literature in a variety of ways. Conner-Greene

(2000) utilized journaling in her University course on personality theories. In her study, she uses

the term journal to refer to written connections that a student makes between course content and

material outside of class (Conner-Greene, 2000). In a differing perspective, Jones and East

(2010) studied the utilization of journals in a first grade classroom. In their research, the journal-

writing process was composed of the following elements: “daily practice, consistent feedback,

integration into other classroom practices, a supportive environment, sharing opportunities, and a

home/school connection” (p. 114). Other studies utilized the method of dialogue journaling: an

ongoing form of communication between teacher and student through the medium of writing.

Although there are a variety of methods and definitions used, all of the research indicated some

form of impact that journaling has on students quantity and quality of writing, engagement,

confidence, and the teacher/student relationship.

Quantity of Writing and Engagement
One such impact that journaling has on students is to increase the quantity of their writing

as well as their engagement to the learning material. The use of journals in the classroom can be

utilized to amplify the amount of time students spend authentically writing. As Davis (2010)

found in her research, through the integration of dialogue journals into her art classroom, the

amount of time students spent writing quadrupled.

The use of dialogue journals in the classroom does not only need to be utilized in a

teacher-to-student format. The research suggests that student-to-student dialogue journaling can

be just as effective, if not more effective, at increasing the quantity and engagement that students

have with writing (Hail, George, & Hail, 2013). The study performed by Hail, et al. (2013)

found that their “data revealed that these fourth graders discussed various topics and issues with

their peers as frequently and openly as they did with their teachers” (p. 48). In addition, when

their study ended, students who had participated in the student-student writing process wanted to

continue the writing project, while students that had participated student-teacher wanted a chance

to write to their peers (Hail, et al., 2013).

Not only can journal writing increase the quantity of writing that students are producing,

but it also can have impact on student engagement and retention of learning material. As

Conner-Greene (2000) discovered in her research, students who used journals to reflect on the

learning material addressed in class saw significant improvement in their final semester test

scores for the course compared to semesters where students did not journal. In addition, by

utilizing a survey at the end of the course, students commented that the journals were a useful

way to engage in active learning over the course of the semester (Conner-Greene, 2000).
Confidence and Quality of Writing
Student journaling has also been found to increase students’ confidence and quality of

writing produced. Jones and East (2010) found that by implementing a daily journal writing

routine in a first-grade classroom, it empowered students by increasing their confidence in their

writing abilities as well as helping them have more control over written language. Through an

observation of student journals across the year, as well as teacher observation journals, the final

analysis showed significant student growth in spelling, word count, and correct use of

punctuation. As Jones and East state in their conclusions, “Through the process of positive

interaction between teacher and students [consisting of writing conferences, teacher comments

and notes in student journals, and teacher observation of daily journal writing], these children

were able to make remarkable strides and developed skills needed to become empowered readers

and writers” (p. 122).

Hail, et al. (2013) also found through their study that the quality of student writing was

impacted through their project. As students wrote to each other in the student-student model of

dialogue journaling, many would ask for clarification, or corrections in spelling and penmanship.

When the responding partner asked for clarification or better writing, the original writer would

respond by correcting their errors and presenting their thoughts in a clearer format. As the

researchers state, “This resulted in students striving to make their messages clear and valuing the

use of Standard English” (p. 49).

Teacher/Student Relationship
The teacher/student relationship is also shown to be impacted by student journaling.

Studies have found that dialogue journaling between students and the teacher helps to provide

the teacher with valuable insight into the interests and backgrounds of students, strengthening the

relationship and understanding that they have of each other. In one study, students became

excited and engaged in the journal writing process, and couldn’t wait to hear back from the

teacher (Davis, 2010). Dialogue journaling can be a powerful tool for teachers to get to know

their students more, and build more positive interactions with students.
However, some research suggests that journaling does not always have this positive

impact on the student/teacher relationship. During a study performed by Anderson, et al. (2011)

regarding the use of dialogue journals to increase positive interactions and behaviors in two

middle school students, the results showed that neither student viewed their relationship with

their teacher to be particularly strong, prior to or following the journaling interventions. This

would suggest that, although journaling can be a powerful tool and has been shown to strengthen

relationships, there are indications that it does not have a positive impact in all circumstances.
The research analyzed in this review highlights three main themes for the use of student

journals in the classroom. One indicates that journaling can increase the quantity of writing as

well as student engagement in the learning process. A second theme indicates that journaling can

increase student confidence as well as their quality of writing. The final theme shows evidence

that student journaling can have a positive impact on the teacher/student relationship, although

this indicator was not consistent across all studies. These three themes provide a framework for

my analysis of the impact that dialogue journaling may have on increasing students’ confidence

in their writing skills, creating more fluent and engaged writers in the classroom.
Theoretical Framework
The work of theorists John Dewey and Alfie Kohn support the concepts behind the use of

dialogue journals in the classroom. Dewey (2009) emphasized the importance of creating a kind

of democracy in education, where students have a voice in how their education is conducted

within the classroom. He states that, “Lack of the free and equitable intercourse which springs

from a variety of shared interests makes intellectual stimulation unbalanced” (p. 147). Because

dialogue journals are unscripted, they can be used to support this type of intercourse that Dewey

describes, where students are free to share interests and ideas. Dialogue journals create a perfect

avenue for the teacher to stimulate a discourse of topics, leaving the student in control of the

In addition to Dewey’s theories on democracy in education, Alfie Kohn (1993) also

supports the use of student choice within the classroom. Kohn believes that in order to create

student success in the classroom, they must be given choices in making decisions about their

learning (Kohn, 1993). With dialogue journals being unstructured, written conversations

between teacher and student, they create an endless amount of choice for where students would

like the conversations to go. They are free to choose the topic that is of interest to them,

providing an authentic and engaging conversation between the two parties.

Research Question
How will utilizing daily dialogue journaling over a three-week period in a third-grade

classroom affect students’ feelings of confidence as writers?

In this study on the impact of dialogue journaling on students’ confidence as writers, I

took a qualitative inquiry approach examining a real world situation, without manipulating it. I

took a naturalistic approach in this research through a case study design that is both historical

and observational (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). Participants were four students in my third-grade

class at a 2-5 public elementary school in Southeast Alaska. Participants were chosen as a

sample of convenience. I focused the study on two boys and two girls in my classroom. They

were the students I worked with each day during my instruction and they were students who

struggle in the area of writing. This was displayed through a difficulty in spelling, language

conventions and writing fluency. It was also tied to their reading ability, which was below grade-

level based on decoding, fluency, and comprehension scores. All four students participated in a

reading intervention program during the school day. One of the boys was an ESL student.
The intervention that took place over the course of three weeks was that of dialogue

journaling sessions with students. These sessions took place every afternoon at 12:40 PM,

beginning on October 17, 2017 and ending on November 3, 2017. During the sessions, students

were asked to write in their journals for a total of 10 Minutes. There was no specific prompt

given, students were simply asked to write about what is on their mind. Each evening, I

responded to the students by writing back to them in their journals. I added comments or

additional questions for the students to respond to the next time they wrote. In this way, a kind

of dialogue took place between the students and myself through the format of their writing

journals. The desired outcome of this unscripted and natural dialogue through the format of

writing was that students will become more comfortable and confident with the process of

writing. As Jones and East (2010) as well as Hail, et al. (2013) found in their research, by

implementing a daily writing routine with students in their journals, students were empowered to

be better writers and their confidence in writing grew.

To collect my data, I utilized three sources of information: observations, a pre and post

assessment as well as formal interviews. Observations occurred during each of the journaling

sessions in the classroom. During this time, I observed the students in my class as they were

writing. I utilized a frequency chart (see Appendix A) to note the frequency of specific behaviors

over the course of each journaling session. These behaviors are the number of words written,

talking, out of their seat, putting their head or pencil down, and taking their eyes of the paper. As

I was observing, I marked each time I saw one of these behaviors for a student. Except for the

number of words written, all of the behaviors noted were not desirable, and would indicate a

disinterest or distraction from the writing process. Therefore, if students were more engaged in

the writing process, I would expect to see fewer markings of those specific behaviors. There was

also a place on the observation sheet to note any other specific comments or feedback that I

wished to record. The time and place of the observations were chosen because while students

were writing provided me with the best opportunity to observe their writing confidence.

Observations were noted in my journal logs and recorded as accurately as possible.

A pre and post writing assessment was given before and after the intervention took place.

The pre-assessment was given on October 17, 2017 and the post-assessment was given on

November 1, 2017. Data was collected after each assessment and used to show how students’

confidence as writers changed over the time of the intervention. A blank example of the pre and

post assessment can be found in Appendix B.

The formal interview consisted of three questions on the topic of writing confidence and

took place at the end of the intervention. The questions for the formal interview were: 1) How

do you feel about writing? 2) How do you think writing in your journal has impacted your

writing? 3) Do you want to continue journal writing in class? The interviews took place inside

my classroom on November 1, 2017 at 9:50 A.M. Interviews happened here because the rest of

the class was outside the classroom. This formal interview was done with the four separate

students individually in the classroom. It was recorded and transcribed. The interview questions

were presented orally by the teacher in the same format for each student.
Internal validity in this study was accomplished through triangulation, the analysis of

multiple sources of qualitative data (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). A narrative analysis of

interviews, observations, and assessments was conducted. The results of the interviews and

assessments were compiled and common responses were looked for and listed. Any changes in

students’ feelings towards writing from the pre to the post assessment were also noted. As I

observed student writing as well as their interactions with their writing, I noted specific changes

that seem to be occurring as the intervention progresses.

Results and Analysis
Through this research, I was analyzing the question of how utilizing daily dialogue

journaling in the classroom will affect students’ confidence in writing. To look at this question, I

implemented a daily dialogue journaling routine in my 3rd grade classroom. I chose to focus my

study on four participants in my classroom. All four students struggle in reading and writing,

and I chose them because they display below-grade-level abilities in both areas. During the

intervention, students wrote in their journals for ten minutes a day about whatever was on their

mind. Each night I would reply to their writing in their journals, asking questions and adding my

own comments. This back-and-forth flow of communication created a kind of written

“dialogue” between my students and me.

Journaling Frequency Log
During journaling sessions, students would write for ten minutes in their journal on a

topic of their choice. As part of my observations during the journaling sessions, I utilized a

journaling frequency log to note different behaviors exhibited by students (see Appendix A). In

the log, I recorded the frequency of several different off-task behaviors, such as getting out of

their seat, talking, putting their head down, or taking their eyes off the paper. In addition, I

recorded a full word count of the number of words written for each student during each session.
Figure 1 shows Student A’s off-task behavior compared to the number of words written

each day. There were two days where Student A wrote zero words in his journal. Although he

was present for those sessions, he did not write. The most words written in a day for Student A

was 30 words. In addition, his off-task behaviors ranged quite a bit and did not seem consistent

from day to day.

Number of Words or Behaviors

10 Off-Task Behaviors
5 # Words

17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17
17/ 19/ 20/ 23/ 24/ 25/ 26/ 30/ 31/ /1/
/ / / / / / / / / 1
10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 1


Figure 1. Student A journaling frequency log data. Graphic shows Student A’s number of off-

task behaviors compared to the number of words written for each day of journaling.
Figure 2 shows the journaling frequency log data for Student B. He had a fairly

consistent number of words written each day compared to the number of off-task behaviors.

However, one day was an exception to this where he wrote zero words in his journal and on

another day his number of words spiked up to 64. He was absent from class on 10/31/17, which

is why he had zero words and behaviors on that day. Over the course of the journaling

intervention, his number of off-task behaviors remained fairly consistent. Student B wrote the

most when he was talking about his family with me. On the day that he wrote the most words

(64 words on 10/30/17) he was sharing a story with me about what games he likes to play with

his brothers. This was part of an ongoing written conversation where I was asking him about his

family and the things he likes to do with them.

Number of Words or Behaviors

20 Off-Task Behaviors
10 # Words

17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17
17/ 19/ 20/ 23/ 24/ 25/ 26/ 30/ 31/ /1/
/ / / / / / / / / 1
10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 1


Figure 2. Student B journaling frequency log data. Graphic shows the Student B’s number of

off-task behaviors compared to the number of words written for each day of journaling.
Figure 3 shows that Student C was fairly consistent with the number of off-task

behaviors. However, the number of words written each day had some drastic shifts, ranging

from 40 words down to only 9 words. She did not have a day where she wrote zero words in her


Number of Words or Behaviors 40
Off-Task Behaviors
# Words
17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17
17/ 19/ 20/ 23/ 24/ 25/ 26/ 30/ 31/ /1/
/ / / / / / / / / 1
10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 1


Figure 3. Student C journaling frequency log data. Graphic shows the Student C’s number of off-

task behaviors compared to the number of words written for each day of journaling.
Figure 4 shows how Student D had drastic changes in the number of words written each

day, as well as noticeable shifts in the number of off-task behaviors. On 10/19/17 as well as

10/30/17 the student was absent from class, which is why the data shows a zero for both

categories those days. Her range of words written was quite large, moving from 44 words down

to 3 words. There were no days where she was present that she wrote zero words in her journal.

Number of words or behaviors

Off-Task Behaviors
# Words
7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
7/1 9/1 0/1 3/1 4/1 5/1 6/1 0/1 1/1 1/1
/1 /1 /2 /2 /2 /2 /2 /3 /3 1/
10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 1


Figure 4. Student D journaling frequency log data. Graphic shows the Student C’s number of off-

task behaviors compared to the number of words written for each day of journaling.
As seen in Figures 1 through 4, the data shows no real noticeable increase in the number

of words written, or decrease in the number of off-task behaviors, over the course of the

journaling intervention for each student. Although the figures do show certain days when

students seemed to be more on-task and writing, there does not seem to be much consistency to

this pattern. The data shows little if any pattern of relationship with off task behaviors and

quantity of writing.
In addition to my journaling frequency log, I also made general notes of my observations

of each student during the journaling sessions. Some consistent patterns and behaviors began to

emerge from these observations. I frequently observed students drawing in their journals during

the sessions rather than writing. However, often times, they would go back and write to explain

their drawing to me. Each time that a student had fewer than ten words written for a session, it

was observed that they were drawing. During the intervention, I never told students that they

could not draw in their journals. However, I did ask that they write something along with their

drawing each time. Several times during journaling sessions I would observe students looking

back and reading previous writing and notes that I had written back to them. Sometimes I would

observe students reading my notes and then they would begin writing a response back to me.
Another observation that was noted was that students seemed more inspired and wrote

more when something interesting or exciting happened in class. For example, the day that had

the most combined writing from all four students, October 20, 2017, had 132 total words written.

On that day, our class had just returned from a field trip to see the Army Band, which was in

town from Anchorage, perform. The students loved the performance, and that is what several of

them wrote about in their journals that day. Both Students A and C wrote about which

instrument they liked the best from the performance and how they wanted to play those

instruments one day. Student D wrote about how she really liked one of the songs that the band

played and being able to clap along with the tune. Student B made specific observations about

the drummer and how he was using different sticks during different songs. This provided a great

opportunity for dialogue and engagement in the writing for students.

Each student participated in a pre and post survey before and after the intervention (See

Appendix B). Results from the pre-survey showed that Students A, B, and C all considered

themselves writers, but Student D responded that she was not a writer. In addition, Students A,

B, and C all responded with positive to very positive feelings about writing, whereas Student D

responded with very negative feelings about writing. Some consistent responses emerged when

they talked about what good writers do. Both Students A and D said that good writers have

“good handwriting.” Students B and C commented that good writers “practice.” Student B also

wrote that good writers “make books,” while Student D had added that good writers “read and

have inspiration.”
When asked about which of these skills they wanted to do as a writer, Student A circled

“good handwriting,” Student B wanted to practice writing, Student C circled “write books,” and

Student D circled “handwriting” and “inspiration.” In addition, when asked what they already

do as a writer, Student A responded with “listen,” Student B put a star by “practice,” and Student

C put a star by “write books.” Student D simply wrote “not good” as a response to the things

that she already does as a writer.

In the post survey, student responses were fairly similar to the pre survey. As before,

Students A, B, and C all considered themselves to be writers, but Student D responded again that

she was not a writer. Students A, B, and C responded again with having positive to very positive

feelings about writing, just as in the pre survey. Student D was the only one whose feelings

changed on the post survey. Unlike the pre survey, where she responded with very negative

feelings towards writing, on the post survey she responded with moderate feelings towards

writing. In addition, Student D was able to find two things that she already does as a writer,

which were “read” and “inspiration,” rather than her response of “not good” that she wrote on

the pre survey. Student A added “practice” as something that he already does as a writer, which

he did not mention in the pre survey. The responses of Students B and C remained consistent

with what they had mentioned on the pre-survey.

Following the intervention, I interviewed each student separately to ask them about their

feelings on writing as well as how writing in their journal has impacted them as a writer. The

following themes emerged from our conversations during the interviews.

Overall, students have positive feelings about writing.

 “[writing is] good, and nice.”

 “[writing is] fun.”

 “It makes me feel sort of happy.”

 “I like writing cause my hand is exercising and writing’s my favorite thing cause,
because, uh, you get to write about something.”

 “I like to do writing because, um, it helps, sometimes it helps you get better at it and it
like helps your brain learn more stuff.”

Students associate good handwriting with good writing, and see this as the biggest thing that

improved from their journaling.

 “It [journaling] made me get better hand writing.”

 “It [journaling] made my handwriting better over the years, like when I had a journal and
teacher’s been giving me journals and stuff and like last year they gave me a journal and I
wrote, wrote, wrote, in it and I got better and better. My teacher told me to look back at
your handwriting and see how bad it was then and now how good it is now.”

 “Um, it’s [journaling] been making me from like mostly its been making me not be messy
in mostly anymore.”

 “It [journaling] helps me write better.”

Students want to continue writing in their journals. Each student responded with “yes” when

asked if they would like to continue writing in their journals in class.

These points of interest from the interviews indicate that students found journaling helped

them to become better writers and that they enjoyed the process of writing in their journals. The

concept of improving their handwriting is interesting as this was also a skill that was mentioned

on the pre and post surveys under what good writers do. Students associate having good

handwriting and improving their handwriting with improving their writing skills. Handwriting

was the one skill that each student said was impacted from their journal writing during the

interviews. Over the course of the three-week intervention, I did not see a noticeable

improvement in the handwriting of students, although I did observe some days when they were

focusing more on their handwriting, rather than rushing through the writing.
The purpose of this action research study was to discover the impact that daily dialogue

journaling would have on students’ confidence in writing. I collected and analyzed various data,

including journaling observations, pre and post surveys, and interviews to discover patterns or

changes in students’ writing or attitudes towards writing over the course of the intervention.

Although the data collected from the journaling frequency-log seemed rather sporadic and did

not show very much consistency or relationship between off-task behaviors and quantity of

writing, there were other observations and indications that the journal writing had a positive

impact on how students feel about their writing.

The results that I found indicate a possible relationship between dialogue journaling with

students and an increase in students’ writing confidence and engagement in the material. These

correspond to the results found in the literature review included in the study. By implementing

dialogue journaling in the classroom, students’ confidence and well as their quality of writing

increased (Jones & East, 2010). My data would concur with these conclusions, as indicated

through interviews and surveys, students enjoyed writing in their journals and had a desire to

continue their writing throughout the year. They felt that the journal writing had helped them

become better at writing as well.

In addition, the literature found that the student/teacher relationship was strengthened

through the journal correspondence (Davis, 2010). Although this was not the specific aspect I

was analyzing through my research question, I did find that I was able to get to know my

students at a deeper level through our conversations in their journals. One of my students in

particular, Student B, wrote more consistently, with higher word counts, and seemed to be more

engaged in the writing process when he was sharing information with me about his family. This

indicates to me the student’s desire to connect with me by sharing parts of his life, and I would

respond by sharing pieces and stories of my own. I felt that this helped us to form a deeper

connection and learn things about each other that I was not aware of before the journaling

The journaling sessions also seemed to impact how students felt about their writing,

specifically, each student thought that the journaling had helped to improve their handwriting.

This was also indicated as a main skill that students felt good writers posses when asked in the

pre and post surveys. It is intriguing to me that students seem to associate their handwriting so

closely with their writing abilities. Further study would be needed to see where this association

truly developed. Is it because that is what their previous teachers had emphasized in earlier

grades? Why do students not seem to focus on the content of their writing, rather how it looks

on the page? This would be an interesting aspect to study in the future.

For the purpose of this study, I did not see a very noticeable difference in the students’

handwriting throughout the sessions. Although it is important to note that each student did think

his or her handwriting had improved. This is notable because it indicated that they perceived the

journaling as improving their writing in some way, even if just in handwriting. However, as

mentioned before, most of the students associated handwriting with good writing. That would

imply that if they found the journaling impacted their handwriting, they were in turn seeing

themselves as becoming better writers through it.

This study was limited due to a short data collection window. Allowing only three weeks

to see an impact on students’ writing did not allow for a truly notable difference to be seen in

students’ opinions or writing patterns. I would recommend lengthening the collection window to

possibly over an entire semester, or even school year, and possibly lowering the amount of

journaling days to three times a week to make the time commitment more manageable. It is also

important to note that this study was limited by its use of a sample of convenience for subjects.
The utilization of student journals in the classroom is a practice that has been frequently

employed by teachers to promote writing skills and engage students in the learning content. This

study was aimed at analyzing how implementing an unstructured dialogue journaling routine

with students would impact their confidence as writers. Is it possible to engage students more in

the writing process by simply having them write what is on their mind? What could I learn from

my students through these unscripted written conversations? Results from my research indicate

that through implementing a dialogue journaling routine, students become more confident in

their writing abilities, and they enjoy the writing process.

The data I collected showed that students saw their writing improving over the course of

the journaling intervention. In addition, students were eager to continue writing in their journals

throughout the year. Not only did students’ confidence as writers improve, but the relationship

between myself, as their teacher, and my students was strengthened as I was able to get to know

more about them through our written conversations.

An interesting association was found in my research as well between students’ opinions

of their handwriting and their writing ability. It seemed that most students associated neat

handwriting with being a good writer. This creates a question that would require further study.

What causes students to connect handwriting with writing ability? Is there a way to show

students a deeper understanding of their writing process and content, not just the operation of

writing? These questions will require further study to analyze students’ concepts of what good

writing is.
The implementation of dialogue journaling in my classroom was an exciting and effective

discovery, and one that I would recommend to any teacher looking to get to know their students

more while also improving writing confidence. I will continue to utilize the dialogue journaling

routine in my classroom moving forward. Writing can often be a frustrating and difficult process

for students, but perhaps through the use of journaling students can gain more confidence in their

abilities, making the writing process more fluent and engaging.

Anderson, D. H., Nelson, J. P., Richardson, M., Webb, N., & Young, E. L. (2011). Using dialogue

journals to strengthen the student-teacher relationship: A comparative case study.

College Student Journal, 45(2), 269-287.

Conner-Greene, P. (2000). Making connections: Evaluating the effectiveness of journal

writing in enhancing student learning. Teaching of Psychology, 27(1), 44-46.

Davis, A. (2010). The implications of dialogue journals in the art classroom. Journal of

Inquiry and Action in Education, 3(3), 18-75.


Dewey, J. (2009). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education.

Waiheke Island: The Floating Press.

Hail, C., George, S., & Hail, J. (2013). Moving beyond journaling to dialogues in writing.

Critical Questions in Education, 4(1), 42-51.

Jones, J., & East, J. (2010). Empowering primary writers through daily journal writing.

Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 24(2), 112-122.

Kohn, A. (1993). Choices for children: Why and how to let students decide. Retrieved from
Merriam, S. & Tisdell, E. (2016) Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation 4th

ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Appendix A
Journaling Frequency Log

Student: A.B. A.M. K.K. L.M.
# Words


Out of Seat

Eyes off
Other Notes

Appendix B

Student Writing Assessment

Grade Age

1. Are you a writer? (circle one) YES NO

2. How do people learn to write?

3. What does someone do to write well? List as many things as

you can think of that good writers do.

4. Look back at number 3 and circle anything that YOU want to

do as a writer.

5. Look back at number 3 again and put a star by the things you
already do as a writer.

5. How do you feel about writing? (Circle one)