What are learning logs? Learning logs are a record-keeping tool for students to monitor and reflect on their own learning. Typically, students keep these logs in a notebook, binder, or folder so the recording is ongoing and fluid. Some teachers find that using a printed template is beneficial, while others teach students a record-keeping system that is based on responses to specific categories. This teaches students how to organize ideas, as they record entries into their learning logs during or at the end of a class session.
Why use learning logs? These frequent bursts of writing, focused on the lesson that just occurred, are highly effective in supporting ongoing understanding. The logs are excellent when used in assessing literacy learning because students are creating their own record of ideas and insights. What’s more, these logs are excellent vehicles for discussing the use of literacy strategies with students, parents, and teachers. Learning logs also prepare young students to take notes—a study habit that will come in very handy later on.
How do learning logs support teaching literacy strategies? Each class session is an opportunity for both learning and reflection. When teachers are able to reinforce literacy and content instruction via authentic student writing they are deepening both the students' understanding and application of literacy strategies. Teachers can also use the logs to reflect on student learning to help make future instructional decisions, such as extending activities or “re-teaching” areas of weakness.
What are implementation options? The goal is for learning logs to be a concise and factual record of learning as well as an honest reflection of a student’s understanding. Although this goal can be met in a variety of ways, there are some proven implementation methods for learning logs that support the teaching of literacy strategies very nicely.
A teacher must first decide the format for the learning logs (binders, notebooks, folders). Also, teachers must evaluate their instructional plans to identify the best times for students to record in the log.
At first, a teacher may want to provide focused question(s) for students to answer in the learning logs. Such as:
- What did you learn in class today?
- What strategy did you practice during your independent reading?
- What did you find interesting in the book you are reading?
- What questions do you have about what you learned?
When students are comfortable with the process of recording in their learning logs, the expectations can be expanded to include a variety of content areas. Some content examples are:
- Observations and questions from science experiments
- Writing predictions before a science experiment, and then recording what actually occurred during the experiment. Students can reflect on why (or why not) their predictions were correct.
- Math problem-solving entries
- A written explanation of how to solve a specific math problem
- A record of independent use of literacy strategies
- Writing from the point of view of a historical figure
How can I use learning logs for assessment and evaluation? An effective way to begin using learning logs for assessment and evaluation purposes is to integrate them into a student conference. Together, the teacher and student can review the learning log to identify areas of new understanding, discuss authentic applications, and challenge the student to extend their new knowledge.
For other ways to encourage independent learning, view our FREE webinar on Goal-Setting and Reading Fluency: “D.I.B.E.L.S., Does It Benefit Early Learners to Set Goals?” with Christina Bainbridge, MAT ’09!