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Journal Writing as a Tool to Enhance Adult Literacy Processes (Page 3)
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A Journal a Week

Bob has been writing in a journal for the past seven months. The original plan was to write a journal entry a week. The journals are in addition to the regular homework from the textbook. Initially we discussed the types of topics Bob might consider. I suggested themes from daily life such as hobbies and interests, a pleasant memory, or any other experience. Bob used to ride motorcycles, and he enjoys cooking and traveling, themes he thought he could write about. The project got off to a slow start. The first journal about his favorite season was only a few sentences (Link to: My Best Season). Subsequent entries got progressively longer. Bob wrote about being stung by a bee (Link to: Untitled), a motorcycle event (Link to: The Toy Run), renting a farmhouse (Link to: The Bee House) and a trip he had taken with his family years ago (Link to: Branson). During this time I encouraged him to read material beyond our text. He started reading the travel section in a newspaper and also recipes and some sports news.

Bob's writing is small and neat. I complimented him on his early work and told him that he was a good writer. I discovered in our recent interview that he did not fully believe that. He says, "after being told I was no good for so long, I didn't know what to believe." (Link to: Part 2). Bob has very rarely missed our sessions. He is punctual and usually completes homework. But the journals have been somewhat sporadic. We are far from the goal of weekly entries. On the positive side, his journals have expanded significantly in terms of length, word usage, and creativity (Link to: Branson; My Trip).

Experience with my freshmen developmental reading students taught me that seizing on grammar and spelling errors inhibits people from writing. Providing feedback on two levels is helpful for students. First we went over Bob's journal, and I provided feedback on ideas and concepts. Next we looked at the mechanics and did some editing. Poor spellers are not necessarily bad writers. As he reveals in his interview, "I loved writing but saw no point in writing with my poor skills" (Link to: Part 1).


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