Buddy Journaling by cuiliqing


									          Buddy Journaling

Puget Sound Writing Project 2008-2009
           Megan Nowak
Megan Nowak
Buddy Journaling
       Fifth graders and third graders worked as writing buddies. They shared writing

and offered feedback to each other. Fifth graders also taught mini writing lessons to third

graders. As a result, through observations and written responses, it was clear that fifth

graders had a positive writing experience through this project. Buddy journaling should

be squeezed into the current curriculum.
Megan Nowak
Buddy Journaling

                               Rationale, Vision, Question

       “What should I write about? I have nothing interesting to say.” My fifth grade

students need to develop into confident writers. I would like them to learn the value of

communication through writing and to foster their natural ability to put thoughts down

into words with the expectation that an audience will read their work. Will the routine

audience of third grade buddy journalists promote confidence in my 5th grade students as


       As in many forms of expression, whether it is dancers at recitals, actors at shows

or journalists with articles, there needs to be an audience. Many people need an audience

to understand the “why” in what they do. In many situations, we use this audience

reaction as a source of confidence in our own actions. Maybe in a perfect world, people

would develop self-esteem all internally without the need for outside recognition or

praise; however that is a naïve thought for most. People thrive on the reaction of others

and many times it directly affects the way people feel about themselves. Receiving

positive feedback from an audience in writing could have long term affects on writers’

self-esteems, which could directly relate to the confidence of how they perceive

themselves as a writer.

       If you say you understand something, then you can explain what you

understand to others. R. J. Kizlik Teaching others a task is a natural confidence builder.

If the third grade writing buddies are required to learn a task from their fifth grade

partners, then there is an expectation that the fifth graders understand the task well

enough to explain it. Transferring this understanding to younger peers may positively
Megan Nowak
Buddy Journaling
affect the confidence my fifth graders have in their own writing abilities. This

confidence may transfer to other genres of fifth grade writing.

       Meeting regularly with our third grade buddies provides purpose and validation of

the writing task to my students. When I student taught with sixteen students in my class,

I was able to respond to student journal entries every day by writing notes back and

interjecting feedback. That type of interaction seems impossible with thirty students. I

do respond to student work, however, not nearly as frequently or thoroughly as I would

have hoped. I predict that fifth grade students will receive constant natural feedback

from the third graders whether it is a chuckle, confused look, comment or a smile. These

regular meetings provide a safe place to share and experiment with writing.

       I’m excited to pursue third grade buddy journaling with my fifth graders. My

hope is that it will help them grow confident in writing and supply them with a safe,

regular audience to share.   I hope to learn how a 5th and 3rd grade buddy journaling

project will affect my 5th graders’ attitudes toward writing.

                                  Collecting Strategy
                                     Megan Nowak
       Since my question is basically about promoting confidence in writing through

buddy journaling, my strategy will be to establish buddy groups between 5th and 3rd

graders, and schedule regular buddy meetings where I will implement carefully selected

writing lessons. These writing lessons will follow and compliment the Shoreline writing

standards, finding commonality between the areas that 5th and 3rd graders need to grow.

                                      Beginning Plan

       Since I started this Application Project last month, my third grade buddy teacher

and I have already grouped students into writing groups. We considered each child’s
Megan Nowak
Buddy Journaling
strengths and weaknesses in writing before assigning groups. Our goal was to create

groups of two or three students where members would be at ease to share and also

compliment each other’s behaviors. Then the next two buddy journaling meetings were

getting to know you activities where students learned what they had in common with

their buddy. They applied this knowledge to an art lesson where buddy groups created

special buddy journals with pictures representing things they had in common.

       My plan is now to use this jointly created journal as a special writing

communication vehicle between our 3rd and 5th grade buddies. Lessons and products

from lessons will be stored within this journal. I would like our buddies to meet at least

once a month, however 5th graders will work on writing at other times during the month

that will be shared with their writing buddies. Even though we may physically meet once

a month, the journal will be passed back and forth more frequently in order to keep

nurturing our buddy relationships.


       Information will be continually collected throughout this entire process until it

ends in May. Video will be used to show how writing relationships change as the year

progresses. Samples from writing journals will be used to analyze any changes in writing

between 3rd and 5th graders. Another important form of documentation will be taken by

informal and formal surveys. Asking students how they feel about sharing their writing

with their buddies.

                                    Review of Sources
       My third grade buddy and I would like to not only promote writing through our

buddy audience, but also through the use of literature. We have been accumulating piles
Megan Nowak
Buddy Journaling
of books that promote writing to use as possible read alouds. Below is a list of books that

talk about shared writing that we will evaluate and possibly use:

                           -Amelia’s Notebook by Marissa Moss
                           -Judy and the Volcano by
                           -Cooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry
                           -You Have to Write by Janet Wong
       My buddy teacher and I have copies of the 3rd and 5th grade Shoreline School

District Writing Scope & Sequence. Our goal is to review this scope and sequence

together and find the commonality in our required forms and genres. We hope to use this

as a guide when structuring and selecting our buddy lessons.

       There are many great educational sources that I plan to draw ideas and lessons

from. Blowing Away the State Writing Assessment Test by Jane Kiester. This source has

specific lessons that meet the required Shoreline writing scope and sequence at both

grade levels. I have used this source as a fourth grade teacher and there are strong

lessons on narrative, exposition, word choice and organization of a paper. There are also

student examples and prompts to help students start writing. I plan to rework some of

these lessons into a buddy setting.

       Units of Study for Teaching Writing. Grades 3-5 by Lucy Calkins. This is my

second year trying Lucy Calkins’s curriculum. Last year, I was only able to teach one of

the five books on starting the writer’s workshop. I have enjoyed the lessons that I have

taught so far. They provide structure to the writer’s workshop process. The lessons also

include student examples and specific ideas to help student’s become more comfortable

writers. I’d like to delve deeper into Calkins’s books on Memoirs and Narratives. These

are two forms that both third and fifth graders need specific instruction. I hope to read

these sources and form lessons to implement in a buddy setting.
Megan Nowak
Buddy Journaling
       Read, Write, Think – website. This website offers an immense array of lessons to

choose from and combines reading with writing lessons. Many of the lessons stem off of

reading a picture book or part of a novel as a vehicle to show students how other writers

create their pieces. This source will serve as another tool in planning interesting buddy

writing lessons.

       Writing Essentials by Regie Routman. Routman’s book offers specific lessons on

shared writing ideas. Combining the structure of shared writing with the content of the

curriculums listed above is how I would like to focus my buddy lessons.

Other Educational Sources:

       I am extremely lucky to work with Katie Johnson. She has always been a mentor

to me when teaching writing. I plan to frequently ask her questions and brainstorm

buddy ideas. More Than Words by Katie Johnson. Reading into Writing by Katie


                        Description and Analysis of Information
                               The Story of My Project
       For the last few weeks, my fifth graders have been meeting with their assigned

third grade buddies. The third grade teacher and I adapted lessons that were current and

relevant to each respective grade level’s curriculum. Throughout these scheduled buddy

meetings, I collected data from my fifth graders through conversation, observation and

surveys in response to their writing interactions. For the most part, buddy interaction took

place in my fifth grade classroom or outside in the courtyard. Fifth graders were in

charge to find a comfortable place to work, write and listen with their buddy.

       After a few getting to know you activities and decorating a joint writing journal,

the third grade teacher and I decided to start our first buddy lesson with a published
Megan Nowak
Buddy Journaling
piece. The third grade buddies had just published a crayfish report. My students

completed the same report two years ago when they were in third grade and could easily

draw back on the writing elements and time put into this project. The third graders

shared their published report with their fifth grade buddy, and in return, the fifth graders

wrote a letter back to their buddies describing at least two specific parts of the report that

they found interesting.

       After this lesson, I asked my students to tell me about their experience. For the

most part they were shocked at how well the third graders were able to write and of

course the fifth graders were awed by the third graders cursive handwriting. Many of the

fifth graders compared parts of what they remembered in their third grade reports with

their buddy’s report. The fifth graders wrote about these similarities in the reflective

paragraph for their buddy.

       Another buddy lesson centered around setting. Together over multiple days

buddies completed a prewrite, draft, and revision session. After the completion of setting

lessons, my students completed a formal survey where they answered questions about the

overall buddy writing experience.

       Analysis of Information Collected: Out of the twenty-five surveys collected,

twenty-four stated that they would like to meet with their third grade buddy again and

one was indifferent (circled both yes and no). The explanations about why they would

like to meet with their buddy ranged from “enjoyed spending time with someone

younger,” “fun to be a teacher,” and “like to see how younger kids write.” Twenty-two

out of the twenty-five wrote that they enjoyed writing with their buddy. One student

wrote, “It is very different the way my buddy writes. It opens my mind of how to explain
Megan Nowak
Buddy Journaling
things to them better.” Other responses about why they enjoyed writing with their buddy

included “third graders have great imaginations,” “they are good writers,” and “they were

able to teach someone younger a few new things.” The three that circled “no” in this

category mainly stated that they didn’t like writing, however these three also circled that

they would like to meet with their writing buddy again.

       The fifth graders wrote a range of different answers to what they feel should be

the next lesson with their buddy. These ideas included: fictional writing, character

paragraph, poems, newspaper articles, short stories. One student wrote, “My buddy

needs to work on descriptive writing so that is what we should work on next.” Another

student commented that the next lesson he thought his buddy should learn was how to put

more similes into his writing.

       Many of the fifth graders felt that they could teach their buddy about writing.

Answers ranged from helping their buddy with organization, teaching their buddy how to

use a dictionary, adding descriptive words, and not starting every sentence with “I.”

       Nearly all of the fifth graders wrote that their third grade buddies learned

something from their teaching. Many did not feel that they learned anything from their

buddy except two wrote that next time they need to slow down when they teach.

       Seventy-two percent of the fifth graders would not want to change their buddy

member. Reasons for this included attachment to buddy, buddy has better ideas than the

fifth grader, and they have too much in common. Out of the seven fifth graders that were

open to switching, four wanted to have a buddy that was the same gender and the other

three were curious about the other third graders writing techniques.
Megan Nowak
Buddy Journaling

       I was surprised by how quickly the fifth graders were able to connect with their

third grade buddy and feel comfortable working with them. I know that they are the

older member of the pair, so I wonder if the third graders also felt this comfortable to

open up with their buddy. After reading their surveys and listening to their comments, it

was very apparent that the fifth graders enjoyed this process of teaching writing to a

younger student. Many fifth graders were amazed by the creative ideas of their third

grade buddies. I found it interesting that some fifth graders felt confident to diagnose

what their buddy should work on next.

       The only students that seemed less comfortable with the process were fifth

graders that were paired with a third grader of the opposite gender. Working with

someone of the same gender seemed important when sharing writing and ideas.

       I really do think that many of my fifth graders felt more confident about their own

writing by working with their buddy. An example is that many of the fifth graders really

wanted to teach their buddy different writing styles and a few even picked out areas of

weakness that they would like to work together on.

       I am curious to meet with my buddy teacher to learn her results from the survey

she gave her students. I wonder if they are as positive. The buddies probably only met a

total of eight times so far. It is definitely a challenge to find time for buddy journal

writing with the many curriculum demands. However, this feedback from my students

made me realize that working with someone younger on writing was enjoyable and

overall they felt confident to teach and introduce new writing topics to their buddy.
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Buddy Journaling
        Will this confidence in teaching to someone younger transfer to my students’

individual writing? It is too soon to tell. However, I know with myself the more

exposure and positive feedback I receive in writing reflects on how I feel about myself as

a writer.

        It would be interesting to continue buddy journaling as well as individual writing

for a while longer and see if there are changes in my students’ writing or attitude for

writing. However, I’m not sure how I would collect data that directly measures how a

writing buddy experience affects my students writing.

        Buddy journaling was a great experience for me as a teacher. The application

project gave me the green light to try something that I was curious about with my

students. Because of the project form, I was forced to put these lingering ideas into

action and allot time in the school day for buddy journaling. I learned that my fifth

graders overall seem to feel confident about their writing especially with a third grade

audience. I learned that fifth graders feel they have writing ideas to share with their

younger peers and that fifth graders can read a piece of third grade writing and gently

give feedback to better that third graders work. I was amazed by my students’ reflection

on this activity. In their meetings, I was awed when I noticed that my fifth graders were

able to break down a writing lesson so that it was digestible for a third grader. It was

great to watch my fifth graders teach a modified version of a lesson that I had taught

earlier in the year to their buddies. My original question was about nurturing fifth

graders writing confidence. Confidence is something that is complicated to measure. My

fifth graders were at an advantage that they were able to work with younger students. I

noticed that this really allowed them to be open and offer suggestions to someone who
Megan Nowak
Buddy Journaling
was younger. I’m not sure they would have been as open with an older peer. Third

graders I noticed, felt more pressure from having to show their writing to a fifth grader.

Some third graders felt insecure during the process and these third graders maybe took

away less positive writing feelings. However, I feel that over time and more connections

with your buddy, even the shy third graders could take away something positive about

writing. From my student responses and observations, I learned that I definitely need to

continue with buddy journaling in my curriculum.

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