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Lesson Plan

Family Message Journals Teach Many Purposes for Writing

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Family Message Journals Teach Many Purposes for Writing

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Julie Wollman, Ph.D.

Julie Wollman, Ph.D.

Worcester, Massachusetts


National Council of Teachers of English



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This lesson places students in the role of the expert as they use daily journal communication to share information they learn in class with their families. Students first write a message to their families explaining what they have learned about a topic. Next, they write a message comparing what they know to new information that they are just learning. For example, they might compare how they live to how Native Americans lived many years ago. Finally, they write a message saying how they feel about something they encountered in class, such as a favorite character in a book. By writing several messages with varied purposes, students begin to experience that journal writing can serve many purposes—it can help them remember; make sense of new information and ideas; and recognize, develop, and share personal thoughts and reactions. Regardless of topic, writing is a powerful tool for thinking and communicating ideas.

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Family Message Journals provide an authentic writing experience for students that can be adapted for many purposes. In Family Message Journals: Teaching Writing through Family Involvement, Julie Wollman-Bonilla describes a number of functions that can be addressed through family message journals. She writes: "A functional perspective on writing-with a focus on how writing affects and audience an moves an audience to action-complements the individual use of writing as a purposeful tool. This flip side of the power of writing is essential to carefully designed writing curricula. Because of its multifaceted nature and the centrality of writing for an audience, the Family Message Journal can play a prominent role in such a curricula." This lesson highlights three authentic purposes for writing in Family Message Journals to share knowledge.

Further Reading

Wollman-Bonilla, Julie. 2000. Family Message Journals: Teaching Writing through Family Involvement. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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