Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Newman, J. M. (1988). Sharing journals: Conversational mirrors for seeing ourselves as learners, writers, and teachers. English Education, 20 (3), 134-155.

Newman discusses her first experience with using journal dialogues as a tool for reflection. She found, at first, that the journals were guarded and cautious. There was a lack of trust. To alleviate this problem, she began to write and share her own journals with the group. The strategy was effective. Through examples, she shares her strategies for successful journals: give feedback, ask questions, answer questions, encourage thinking on key issues, offer encouragement, empathize with writers, provide moral support, suggest strategies, disagree with ideas, extend their thoughts, share feelings, challenge ideas, and examine beliefs. She provides examples of the kinds of learning that can occur through journals, for example, the importance of English teachers examining their own writing, the difficulty in reading technical materials for adults and children, or the mechanisms of reader-response theory. As the teachers moved through this process, they became more reflective about the impact of their own actions in the classroom; their journals became mirrors for reflecting and illuminating their own beliefs.

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