A learning log is a notebook, binder, or some other repository that students maintain in order to record ideas, questions, reactions, and reflections, and to summarize newly learned content. Documenting ideas in a log about the content being read and studied forces students to “put into words” what they know or do not know (Audet, Hichman, & Dobrynina, 1996). This process offers a reflection of understanding that can lead to further study and alternative learning paths (Baker, 2003). It combines writing and reading with content learning (McIntosh & Draper, 2001; Sanders, 1985). Learning logs can become the place for virtually any kind of content-focused writing (Brozo & Simpson, 2007).
1. Begin by requesting students to use a special notebook or binder for learning log entries. Students should be encouraged to personalize their logs by decorating the cover or in some other way to distinguish it as unique.
2. Share examples of log entries you have written to serve as models for students. Use these examples to explain the process and your expectations for entries.
3. Give students prompts for short content-focused writing and allow them to practice writing entries, discussing strengths and areas needing further development. For example, at the start of class you might ask students to predict what will be covered in the next chapter, or at the conclusion of class have students write a reflection of what was learned in that day’s lesson.
4. Regularly, if not daily, prompt students to write in their learning logs. Log entries should be dated and include the prompt. A time limit for writing should be set, and students should be allowed to share their entries with a partner or the class for feedback and comments.
5. Consider ways in which learning logs can be evaluated. Since log writing is typically short in length, written within a limited amount of time, and does not require much if any revisionary effort, grading should be holistic. Most teachers give completion grades based on a weekly collection and check of the logs.
Audet, R.H., Hichman, P., & Dobrynina, G. (1996). Learning logs: A classroom practice for enhancing scientific sense making. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 33, 205-222.
Baker, H.J. (2003). The learning log. Journal of Information Systems Education, 14, 11-14.
McIntosh, M.E., & Draper, R.J. (2001). Using learning logs in mathematics: Writing to learn. Mathematics Teacher, 94, 554-557.
Sanders, A. (1985). Learning logs: A communication strategy for all subject areas. Educational Leadership, 42, 7-10.
CONTENT LITERACY STRATEGY DESCRIPTIONS for the 2008 LOUISIANA COMPREHENSIVE CURRICULUM, Dr. William G. Brozo, May 2008