OK, this one is from Older Daughter's expensive private school, Friends Omphalos.
Journal due Tuesday
Write an open topic journal. Introduce yourself. Talk about goals for the year. What has interested you so far about social studies.
Here is what journals should be about.
1.) Your thoughts and reactions to things learned about in class or in doing homework.
2.) Your reactions to the class itself. How is the group working ... etc ...
3.) Anything that relates somehow to social studies. This is broad. Many, many things are related to social studies. Perhaps virtually everything is.
What your journal should not be is a diary. For instance, I do not need to know what are [sic] for breakfast, whether or not you walked your dog this morning etc...
To add insult to injury, this assignment will be graded! What could possibly be the standards for grading this thing?
Here's our e-mail exchange so far: the first is from Yours Truly:
Mr. Pointless -- we have been trying to help Older Daughter with her Social Studies homework but we are completely baffled by the Journal assignment. Older Daughter can't think of anything to write because she can't figure out what the purpose is, and we can't figure it out either. What is she supposed to learn from this assignment?
And the reply, from the Obscure Desk of Mr. Pointless:
I wish Older Daughter would come to me with her concern.
That said, the purpose is for kids to write for fluency and to consider items discussed in class, read or seen for homework, or to talk about items related to social studies. For instance, and I said this when explaining it in class, any current events issue or event relates to social studies. It is supposed to be wide ranging. It is how I get a sense of what kids are thinking about and their reactions to the class.
I would suggest Older Daughter
1) share her goals for the year.
2) Consider things talked about in social studies thus far... for instance would she like to live in 1900? Why or why not?
3) How does she feel about school, class, etc... For instance, she can clearly let me know that this assignment has troubled her. This would be a perfectly appropriate use of a journal.
4) Is there an issue or event in the world that she is worried about, happy about, interested in?
I will assign these journals regularly. I get to know what my students are thinking about.
I hope this is helpful.
Argh! These people drive me crazy! I hardly know where to start.