Starting a Dialogue

If your teacher asks to collect and read your journal, then you have a good chance to initiate some dialogue in writing about things that concern you both. Journals used this way take on many of the qualities of letters, with correspondents keeping in touch through the writing. As a writing teacher, I have learned a great deal about my own teaching from written conversations with my students.

Remember Alice, the biology major studying the fern spores in the petri dishes? Her professor responded to nearly every one of her observations, briefly, to let her know if she was on the right track. At midpoint in her project, her professor wrote the following:

10/15 Here are some questions designed to organize your thoughts in groups: (1) What interspecific interactions are promoted? (2) What intraspecific interactions are promoted? (3) What about the experimental design casts doubt on your inferences about interactions?

I don't understand these questions, and you probably don't either, but in the context of Alice's project journal, they made complete sense. In journals you can carry on virtually private, closed, tutorial-like conversations with your instructor, even if he or she never asked you to keep one.

From Journal Writing to Drafting 49

Sharing journal entries is more like sharing letters than any other kind of writing you are likely to do in college.

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