Roll-a-Story Journal Entry in EAL/ESL Classroom

The legendary Toby Fulwiler, author of The Journal Book, wrote, “Without an understanding of who we are, we are not likely to understand fully why we study biology rather than forestry, literature rather than philosophy. In the end, all knowledge is related; the journal helps clarify the relationship.”

I really like to dedicate one language class a week for journal entries. I love reading those pieces of writing and recognise my students in them. At the beginning of each week, I spend time trying to find a challenging, yet engaging and somewhat funny prompts for my students. It can be anything like, a picture from twitter or any other social media (appropriate, of course!), line from a book, or a funny task that helps my students relate to their own lives. One of the favourite pictures among my students is the picture below I found on Twitter.

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This week, I had an amazing experience of my students loving the topics they got for their journal entries. The reason for this was the fact that fate was choosing topics for them. I created a Roll-a-Story worksheet. Students got a die that they had to roll. Their first roll was determining the main character of their story, their second roll – the setting, and their third roll – the conflict. You should have seen my 6th graders and how thrilled they were with this task. The most important thing in the preparation for this activity is to make sure that the characters, setting, and conflict ideas are entertaining and funny.
For instance, my main character list started with a sleepy zookeeper  and ended with a magician. Some of the setting locations included a spooky graveyard at night, jelly bean factory, and magical carpet. And the conflict of the story varied between chased by robot spiders and fighting aliens trying to take over the world.

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It was a rewarding experience to see how my students were engaged with this activity.


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