1. Begin by writing the question of the day on the board before
students come into the classroom: What do you think of when
you hear word “journal” or “diary”?
Instruct students to write down as much as they can think of
on this topic. Allow the class about 5 minutes to ponder and
answer the question.
Discuss with the class some of their conceptions and
impressions about journal writing. Allow the class to
share their experiences with journal writing, and then
pose the question: Why do people keep journals?
You may want to list some of these reasons, which might include: “For
personal reasons”, “To write about what happens
in your day”, etc.
Explain to the class that journal writing is much more
keeping a diary. People from many different cultures
have written in journals for many different reasons, including
personal reflection, record keeping, scientific observation,
cultural analysis, and travel documentation. These journals
have become a valuable window into the past for historians
and readers alike. Over the next week we will be learning
about people who kept
journals and how those writings served the authors and others
who would read their work years later.
Write the following names on the board: Leonardo Da Vinci,
Virginia Woolf, Lee
Harvey Oswald, and Anne Frank.
the class to take out a sheet of paper and create a four
grid by drawing a vertical line down the middle and a horizontal
line across the center of the page. Instruct them to place
one name in each quadrant.
the class 5-10 minutes to write what they know
about each of these four
people and how they are important in history. Encourage
to write as much as they can and not to worry about
When they finish, compile what the class knows about
each of these individuals on the board. Ask the
class what these four people all had in common (they
Take about 5-10 minutes to give a short biography of
Leonardo Da Vinci (see websites above). You may have
notes during this mini-lecture so they have the background
information available for future reference.
giving this background information, describe Da Vinci's
copies of a few pages from Da Vinci’s notebook
to students. In groups or individually, have the class
and discuss what is written in Da Vinci’s journal,
how it is written, and what purposes it served.
1. Continue to look at journals kept
by people of various cultures, exploring the reasons why
they kept these journals and how they are useful reading
to us today.
will begin keeping their own journals. Before the
class begins, have excerpts of journals by Virginia
Woolf and Lee Harvey Oswald copied for each student, or
you may use excerpts from two other authors you have
Do not tell the students who has written the journal entries,
only specify that one author is a woman, and one is a man.
the following writing prompt on the board: “What
can we learn from reading the diaries of historical figures?” Give
the class about 5 minutes to think about and write
down their answers to the question.
Once students have finished,
about 5 minutes to discuss their thoughts (this should
be a review from the previous day).
Explain to the class that today we are going to continue
analyzing journal entries
to discover the reasons why so
many people of different cultures kept journals and what
we can learn from them.
the class get into groups of 3-4 people and distribute
several copies of published
entries to each group. Give the students about 15-20
minutes to read and analyze these journal excerpts, using
questions as a guide:
What is the first thing you notice about this journal
b) What are some of the defining characteristics of
a journal entry?
c) Can you easily read the text? What roadblocks keep
you from fully understanding what the author is saying?
could you do to solve these difficulties?
d) For what purposes do you think this person kept a
e) Was this journal written by a man or a woman? How
can you tell?
f) Can you determine the cultural values or beliefs of
the author from reading this entry?
g) What details about the location, time period, history,
or culture can you discover?
h) Does the author include any geographic or climatic
details of the region in this entry? What about the health
of the era? Explain.
i) Why do you think this journal was published? What
can we learn from these entries?
After groups have had sufficient time to analyze the
entries, come back together as a class
to discuss student findings.
To close the lesson, reveal to the class the authors of
the journal entries they have read, as well as a short
of the historical significance of these individuals.
1. On the final day of this engage/explore lesson,
have the students read passages from the diary of Anne
Frank, a pioneer
journal from the development of the old west, or a powerful
journal excerpt of your choice. As before, do not tell
students the author of the diary.
copies of the journal entries
ready to hand to students as they walk into class, and
instruct them to begin reading silently. Give the
class enough reading
for about 10-15 minutes, and ask them to write a brief
reaction (about a page) to what they have read.
Have students analyze the journal they have read using
the questions from day two as a guide. Have students
do this independently and write down their answers for
assessment. Allow the class sufficient time, about 15
minutes to complete this exercise, and instruct the class
analysis will be collected at the end of the period.
At the close of this lesson, reveal the author of the
text if students have not already discovered this,
give a brief historical background of this diary. Discuss
the students why this journal was published and what
value it has to us today.
On a sheet of paper, have the students answer
the following prompt: Explain the literary, historic, or scientific
value of journal entries.
to bring a new spiral bound notebook or composition book to
class to begin keeping a class journal. This notebook will
be only for this class and will stay in the room. The teacher
is encouraged to keep a journal along with the class and to
also write while the students are writing.