I've always really liked the idea of using journals in the classroom. But more often than not, these end up being a place for students to copy what the teacher puts up on the board, rather than as a learning tool for the student. But here is the idea I just added to my 1st quarter lesson plans for Junior English:
Grammar Journal- Students will begin a two part Grammar Journal. The first part will contain definitions, exercises, and examples of proper grammar provided in morning mini-lessons. This will serve as a self-created reference for students. The second part is a notebook in which students keep records of sentences they have written that contain grammatical errors. Sentences are obtained from student work submitted to instructors. These errors will be marked in a consistent manner by the teaching when grading. After identifying the errors themselves, students then copy problematic sentences in their journals and rewrite the sentences, making alternative stylistic choices to improve each sentence. To take full advantage of their choices, students can rewrite their improved sentences several different ways. Students who do not have significant grammar problems can use the Grammar Journals to recognize their range of stylistic choices. They can accomplish this by rearranging sentences they have created in various ways to create emphasis or change the feel or mood of a piece they have written.(part of this was totally bogarted from Developmental Writing.
I'm excited about trying this out. For those that have taught before, you may be laughing at me. But I see this as a two-fold endeavor. The first part is that doing it this way, I avoid the worksheets and memorization I myself have always hated about learning grammar. Instead, I can use mini-lessons to introduce a concept or skill, and then lead students to strengthen their weaknesses by making notes on their writing (my favorite part of English anyway.) The second is the goal that if I allow a little creativity, in the form of owning their journal, personalizing it and such with their own writing (and pictures, and lyrics and etc) then hopefully students will find value in it. It is definitely a more active way for students to learn a skill, having them find out what went wrong rather than me telling them (over and over and over!)