Cult of Pedagogy Search

How Dialogue Journals Build Teacher-Student Relationships


Can't find what you are looking for? Contact Us


Listen to my interview with Liz Galarza (transcript):


How well do we know our students? They sit in our classrooms five days a week, we certainly spend lots of time with them, but how well do we really know them? How well do we know their thoughts, their worries, the things they obsess about? And how well do they ever get to know us beyond our role as a teacher?

Liz Galarza

Liz Galarza

I’ve been hammering away at the importance of the teacher-student relationship for about as long as Cult of Pedagogy has been a thing, but every now and then I come across a method or approach that can really help build those relationships more effectively.

My friend Liz Galarza, who teaches middle school writing in New York, has been telling me for ages about the dialogue journals she uses with her students and how transformational they have been in building relationships. The journals had such a profound impact that Galarza made them the focus of her doctoral dissertation.

What are Dialogue Journals?

A dialogue journal is any kind of bound notebook where students and teachers write letters back and forth to each other over a period of time. This is very similar to the kinds of journals described in Smokey and Elaine Daniels’ book, The Best Kept Teaching Secret, but since Galarza has had such powerful experiences with these journals, I thought another post was merited.

In Galarza’s class, students purchase whatever kind of journals they want, “as long as it’s going to withstand a year’s worth of back and forth,” she says. “Most of them use the marble composition notebooks. I ask them to decorate with pictures or quotes, and it really does show their personality.”


How Dialogue Journals Work

The First Entry

In the first few days of school, Galarza gets to know her students through intake forms (not included in the journals) where she asks students to tell her five things about themselves that she wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at them or their school records. Next, she goes into the journals and writes the first entry, starting with a very general welcome, then beginning to connect with students based on things they wrote on their intake forms.

Although many teachers begin these kinds of journals by having students write the first entry, Galarza has had more success by starting them herself. “I think the kids who have less confidence when it comes to writing would feel paralyzed by that. So I try and make it very, very open.”

In the sample letter below, Galarza connects with this student about her love of reading and writing, softball, and pets. “The first letter I ask more questions than any other time, but I get them to see that I’m human. We have commonalities. I’m interested in you. You’re important to me. This is going to be fun.”




Student Responses

Once the teacher’s first letter is written, students write back. In this sample, Nick responds to Galarza’s opening letter, where she mentioned Derek Jeter leaving the Yankees. “In his intake sheet, every single thing he wrote about was about baseball and the Yankees,” so Galarza made sure she mentioned that in her first letter.



Time and Grading

As the school year progresses, the journals go back and forth between teacher and student. Galarza asks students to write one letter a week, although some students write more often than that. About once a week, Galarza will ask each class period to hand in their journals, staggering these on different days so she only has one class period per day to respond to. She takes about an hour to respond to a single class set of journals, so if it’s a busy season, she may end up only collecting them every two weeks, rather than once a week.

As for grading, students are simply given credit for completion. Even if they don’t write a lot, they get credit for doing it. And that’s it. Galarza does not mark errors or evaluate the work for any kind of score. Because this journal is about building a relationship, Galarza doesn’t want to take away its appeal by assigning a grade to it. “The more often you put a grade on something,” she says, “the less empowering you’re making it for the students.”




Benefits of Dialogue Journals

Shifting the Power Differential: Because dialogue journals allow students to see their teachers as people, they shift the teacher from the “all powerful” role and create a stronger, more meaningful connection between teacher and student. “As a teacher we always have that authoritative stance: We’re the teacher, and they’re the student, and they know that,” Galarza explains. “I think the more you use that as leverage, the less you’re going to get out of students.”

Writing Fluency: When students write in dialogue journals, there’s no pressure to fulfill an assignment or construct perfect sentences. Students just write. And the more a person writes, the more confident they become and the better their writing gets. If the teacher can identify topics that are important to the student, this can inspire far more writing than a student would ever produce for an assignment. Nick, the student above who wrote about Derek Jeter, initially told Galarza he hated to write. After their first exchange about the Yankees, Galarza says the topic stayed with them for the rest of the year, and Nick ended up filling more pages than any other student that year.

Formative Assessment: Although the journals are not designed for this purpose, having students write regularly allows the teacher to spot errors or weaknesses that can inform teaching. “I can use the multiple language errors that I find in many of the journals as a basis for my mini-lessons,” Galarza explains. “So if I see that many of my students are not using commas when they’re offsetting a list, that might become a grammar mini-lesson.”

Individualized Instruction: “You can literally teach them something within the journal without anyone knowing that you’re doing it,” Galarza says. “I’ve said something like, ‘You know, you can use a semicolon in your sentence’ … I might even highlight it. ‘You know in this sentence up here? You don’t need a period there. You could use a semicolon.’ I’ll just throw in a little grammar instruction as we’re going along only if I think that they would be receptive to it.”

Mentor Texts: As the teacher and student go back and forth, students pick up on the teacher’s style of writing, and the teacher’s letters effectively become mentor texts. For example, when Galarza responds to her more advanced writers, “I might use a more complex sentence structure. I might combine sentences or use phrases and just more sophisticated language.” Often she notices students using these same structures in their own responses.

Funds of Knowledge: Keeping dialogue journals with students over time helps teachers discover students’ unique funds of knowledge, areas of expertise they might not have known about otherwise.  “I had this student this year who was into taxidermy and hunting,” Galarza says. “I was so interested in it, so I asked him to give me information on it, and he really did. Like technical. Like it belongs in a book. And then he drew pictures.” She asked him if he ever thought about writing a comic book about hunting or taxidermy, and in his response, he considered it:




Relationships: Ultimately, the most important benefit of the journals is the relationships they build. When students feel they have a trusted adult in school, when they feel heard and seen, that makes school a place they want to come to.

“I don’t look at teaching the way many people do,” Galarza says. “I know that they could learn anything they need to learn from their homes with a device on their lap still in their pajamas. They don’t need me to learn. They need me to care.” ♦





There’s a lot more where this came from.
Join the Cult of Pedagogy mailing list and get weekly tips, tools, and inspiration—in quick, bite-sized packages—all geared toward making your teaching more effective and fun. You’ll get access to my members-only library of free downloadable resources, including my e-booklet, 20 Ways to Cut Your Grading Time in Half, which has helped thousands of teachers spend less time grading. If you are already a subscriber and want this resource, just check your most recent email for a link to the Members-Only Library—it’s in there!



  1. Nikki says:

    Very interesting! I am saving every Friday for journaling this year with my high school science students. Maybe this is where I should start; it could be once a month with the other journaling in between.

  2. Carrie says:

    Great idea! I have a smaller class than I’ve ever had this year, and this looks like a wonderful way to encourage writing and build relationships.

  3. Ellen says:

    I love this idea, but I worry about being able to keep up with it, and wonder if starting, then not following through would do more harm than good.

    • Kerry says:

      I do a TGIF journal with my students where they write home to a parent or aunt every Friday and tell them about the week, what we’ve studied, etc. Parents are then asked to write back. Most do, some don’t. I like the idea of switching it up and some weeks writing home and some weeks writing to the teacher, another week a peer.

      This is how I’ll mix it up as I know I couldn’t keep it up. Have a great teaching year.

      • Liz Galarza says:

        Writing to a parent is a great idea! Thanks for sharing. Let me know how it works to change things up. Have a great school year!

    • Tina says:

      I’m worried about keeping up as well! I have 50 students, and I’d have to figure out a rotation. Any suggestions on management?

      • Liz Galarza says:

        I have tried it many different ways, but what has worked best is receiving about 10 books a week. I post a schedule and the student knows when they must submit. This way you are only answering 10 a week, but are constantly receiving books. I hope that makes sense!

    • Liz Galarza says:

      I would bet that once you start writing with your students, you will not want to stop!

    • Liz Galarza says:

      I do not think it would be harmful. As a suggestion, you could start with everyone and then just continue with the students that really WANT to do it. This way, you will not feel overwhelmed. I would be interested in hearing how that works.

      Enjoy the school year!

  4. Liz and Jen,

    I’m so impressed by the dedication and care put into dialogue journals.

    This reminds me of literature letters, which my teaching methods professor, Jim Mahoney, had us write during one of my final college classes. Each week, students wrote a letter to each other about one of the class readings, and every few weeks, each student was responsible for writing a letter to Mr. Mahoney. The casual dialogue between students and student to teacher about the course content and life in general deepened the class experience so profoundly.

    I can only imagine that the dialogue journals have the same impact on you and your students.

    Thanks for a great post.

    • Liz Galarza says:


      Thanks for your comment! I am sure the experience that you had in that methods class had a significant effect on your learning. When you build trusting, caring relationships, students and teacher engage more authentically and REAL learning takes place.

  5. Love this! My kids keep “day books” and some of their journal entries are like the dialogue journals. I respond to their entries with comments, but I love the idea of a teacher’s reply as a mentor text. I will definitely keep that in mind as I begin this new year. Thank you for sharing.

    • Liz Galarza says:

      Thanks so much for your comment! I would love to hear how the journals work in your class.

      Have a great school year!

  6. Cindy Horst says:

    Thank you for the great listen. I’m dying to try it, but . . . five more hours per week (five classes of 30 or so) – how can I do it? I can’t. I am hoping for ideas on how to do them in less time. Thank you! 🙂

    • Liz Galarza says:

      Thanks for the feedback. You can try it with just one class and see how it goes. Stagger the submission so you are only receiving about 10 books a week. This may be doable Let me know!

      Have a great school year!

  7. Thank you for sharing this idea. I also wonder about the time investment, but the benefits you write about are inspiring – individualized instruction, ongoing assessment, and teacher letters as mentor texts. And of course, relationship building.

    • Liz Galarza says:

      Thanks for your comment. Yes! The benefits are awesome. I hope you consider trying it. Keep me posted!

      Have a great school year!

  8. Liz and Jen, I SO appreciate the depth of this topic you’ve presented here. Thanks for the models/examples provided because it makes educators more likely to adopt this activity with students when they see the process.

    • Liz Galarza says:

      Thanks so much, Leanna! Please share your experience with the journals and have a wonderful school year!

  9. Sarah Sturgeon says:

    Liz and Jen
    In the 1980’s, Leslee Reed taught across the hall from my classroom – and saved my sanity by sharing dialogue journals for use in my multilingual-cultural sixth grade class in downtown Los Angeles. Their personal and classroom relationships supported academic learning at all levels in this class of diverse students. In subsequent duties in 4th, K, 1st, remedial reading groups, and then ESL classes in Roatan, dialogue journals remained crucial lifelines. I’m grateful that their use still sustains learners in this number crazed data era.

  10. Liz Galarza says:

    Oh, WOW!!! I am so glad to hear from you, Sarah! I wish I could speak to Leslee Reed. I have read so much about her while doing my research. I feel the same way with regard to the present academic climate. is possible to use these types of classroom practices even with our data driven profession.

  11. Kristi Wiggins says:

    I listed to your podcast yesterday on my way to and from school. I had my students bring 2 comp books this year, but I had decided not to do a project that we have used one of them for. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to utilize these, and your dialogue journals may be just the ticket. I had my kids write me a letter the first day of school, so I’m going to use those over the Labor Day holiday weekend to try and get these started. I’d love to see a sample of one of your first entries. Do you have any of these posted anywhere online? Thanks for the great tips. I can’t wait to get started

  12. Liz Galarza says:

    It was a great idea to have the kids write you the first letter! There is a sample of a first letter in the blog post. I hope you are enjoying using dialogue journals with your students!

  13. Lisa Davis says:

    I was recently hired as an ESE (special ed) support facilitator in a middle school and will be working with my caseload in regards to behavior and what they need to do to be successful in class. I am definitely going to incorporate this. I have used a mailbox in the past to let kids write to me about whatever they wanted to, but I like the consistency of the dialogue journal. Thanks!

  14. Shelley Woodland says:

    Do you think this would work if it was digital? Email rather than journals, or would that take something away from the experience?

    • Hi Shelley,

      Opinions definitely vary on this. Some people feel we don’t get nearly enough time putting pen to paper, and that we lose some intimacy when we go digital. I see the validity of this point, but I also think you can gain so much by doing dialogue journals digitally that it may be worth the trade-off. If I were to do a digital version of this, I don’t think I’d do it through email; I would just have each student start a Google Doc, and we would go back and forth in that same document. Here are some advantages of doing dialogue journals this way:

      (1) Accessibility: You could catch up on dialogue journals at work or at home, or on a smartphone or tablet. This would be much easier than hauling crates full of journals home with you.

      (2) Commenting system: With Google Drive’s comment system, you and the student would be able to comment on individual parts of each other’s letters by highlighting a particular word or section and adding a margin comment. While this is possible in a physical journal, it could get messy quick, and you’d be limited in how much space you’d be able to use. With Google Docs, you could do margin comments AND a separate letter that follows the student’s entry, which could offer a lot of different ways to interact.

      (3) Hyperlinking: In a digital environment, both you and the student could hyperlink to other resources and media that connects to the topics you’re discussing. These could range from a quick lesson on mechanics (if you notice a student attempting a sophisticated sentence structure but not quite getting it) to a link to a song or video one of you wants to share. Over time, each student’s dialogue journal would be a rich, layered, personal collection of multimedia they’ve built with you.

      What do you think?

      • Liz Galarza says:

        Sorry that I did not see this earlier!

        I agree with everything you said above, Jen, and I LOVE the hyperlinking idea. I think it is a personal decision, and you should do what works best for you.

        I kept the journals in written form even after I was using Google Classroom and assigning everything else in my class through Google. There is something very special about using your own handwriting and being able to draw, paste in pictures (I know this could be done electronically) and decorate the cover. It was my preference, but I do not think there would be negative effects if they were done digitally.

        The most important reason to use dialogue journals is to create authentic connections with students.

  15. Carol Leyendecker says:

    I created on line journals (courtesy of Alice Keeler) and put them in the google classroom. I think I will concentrate on including the dialogue aspect to them. I do comment on their entries each time, but something more personal would be a great addition.

    • Megan says:

      I have utilized dialogue journals in my classroom and LOVE them! I am interested in moving to a digital platform. Could you explain what you loaded to google classroom? I’ve thought about starting a google doc but was wondering about other options available. Thanks!

  16. Mel says:

    Has there been success with this in the elementary classroom?

    • Debbie Sachs says:

      Hi Mel! Yes! Yes! Yes! I used dialogue journals in my 5th and 1st grade classrooms — LOVED them! They were absolutely a great means for relationship building — my favorite part was writing back — validating and empathizing and laughing in response to their messages. I also came to realize I was able to naturally differentiate and nudge writing progress with each entry by crafting responses with intention. Kids eagerly looked forward to my responses, paying attention to how I wrote back…noticing crafty use of punctuation, changes in text size or line spacing, and purposeful word choices. They also got to know me better on a personal level. We know the power of modeling. Dialogue journals give kids of all ages an opportunity to get that bit of personal attention from their teacher through the art of written communication. I gave up dialogue journals one year because there was so much other stuff to do…that was about 15 years ago…still remember it and still regret it.

      • Liz Galarza says:

        Thanks for posting that comment, Debbie. It sounds like you really enjoyed writing with your students in dialogue journals. Too bad there is so much time spent on things that don’t yield such positive results! Did you give them another try?

        • Thanks so much, Liz!!! Oh, yes — after that year when I didn’t implement dialogue journals, I absolutely went back to them every year after that! I don’t know what convinced me to let them go that one year since I’d been using them for years and years prior to that. I vaguely recall thinking their Response Journals could serve the same purpose, but they didn’t. Not even close. The silver lining was that it just confirmed what I knew all along – their power. And I agree with you … in many cases, so much time is spent on things that don’t have nearly the impact. Thanks for all your insight!

          • Vicki says:

            Hi Debbie. I have been using “Seed Journals” (Writing grows throughout the year as a seed would) with my first graders for the past five years. I absolutely love it. Occasionally, some of my firsties can’t read my response so I tell them to ask a friend. However, some of the kids write personal information and don’t want others to see it. I have no problem reading it to them but then it creates a “Monkey See, Monkey Do” scenario. As a result, I have a line of 24 kids wanting me to read their responses as well. Any suggestions?

          • Vicki,

            Yes — some little ones struggle reading our replies, especially at the beginning of the year. Because of that, I tried keeping in mind what I knew about them as readers and writers. My goal was to reply with a meaningful message they could likely read with independence. That meant differentiating by strategically using mostly known words and including just one or two unknown words they could solve using context or reading strategies.

            Having said that, I still had a system in place to avoid those long lines from developing. Usually, I returned journals to tables in the morning before school started (or before leaving the night before). When kids arrived, I was busy making connections, circulating the room and touching base with everyone. After they took care of their morning routines, they’d go to their table to read their journal. They knew I’d be coming by and if they wanted my help, they’d need to be prepared. That meant telling me exactly what they needed help with and what they already tried to do on their own. This led to some self-direction, accountability and eventually more confidence. On my end, it also served as a bit of a formative assessment. If a student wasn’t prepared, I just told them I’d swing back if there was time. These norms were set from the beginning. We decided it was a respect thing. I was already talking to someone and besides, I was a really bad multitasker! I also told them I’d never want to waste their time, having them wait in line for me. That wouldn’t be nice. So again, a respect thing.

            What if time ran out and I didn’t get to everyone? Kids knew they could bring their journal to a Readers or Writers Workshop conference, or they could put a post-it on their journal, requesting a conference. Then I would meet with them at my convenience. Another thing I did sometimes: return just a handful of journals a day, trying to make sure no more than 1-2 would need help. I think the main thing is to find some sort of system that assures the kids that there’s a system in place and options for meeting, but standing in line just isn’t one of them.

            Hope there’s something here that might be of help!

    • Liz Galarza says:

      Sorry, Mel! I did not see this until now!

      YES! Debbie Sachs explained it just as I would. Along with building trusting relationships with students, the writing your students do is a formative assessment. Debbie explains that beautifully! The modeling aspect that was mentioned is also key. They are seeing a correctly written letter with possibly new vocabulary, sentence structure and punctuation. It is almost like a private lesson without explicit instruction. I did create mini lessons based on “errors” that I saw within letters, but I never corrected or graded the journals. Although time consuming, it is time well spent!

  17. Christine says:

    Has anyone used these in a high school biology course, even an AP science course? I’m curious about having the students do a journal where they tell me what they are understanding versus what they are struggling with in class. I wouldn’t be using it to get them to write, but to get a better feel for how they are grasping the material. I love the idea of building trust with my students through journaling. I am able to build an easy rapport with my students, and trust with most of them in class, but it can be hard to get to the students who struggle with the subject. Feedback would be appreciated!

    • Liz Galarza says:

      Sorry it took so long to respond! I just saw these comments.

      Although what you are proposing is not really a conversation with students, you can still use the concept to ascertain if they are understanding content. You will be able to build rapport, but it will not be an organic conversation. You are directing it. I would try it and tweak it as you go along.

      I would be very interested in the results!

  18. Janice says:

    I have been thinking of doing something like this with my high school seniors. I would like to replace the Reading Logs ( for my Humanties class) with something that feels more organic to them, but that can also establish a more authentic communication between us and with their readings. Have you used it at the high school level? Do you think it would be successful? Any ideas are vey welcome 🙂

    • Liz Galarza says:

      Using dialogue journals to replace reading logs sounds like a great idea! It would be more like a literary journal or a reading response journal, but connections can be built, for sure! I have not used them at a high school level, but I believe, that if students could buy into it, the timing would be perfect. They are at a transitional time of their lives and need teachers to be authentically available. I would love to hear how they worked!

  19. Lauren Grahame says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I’ve been keeping weekly Reading Dialogue Journals with my upper primary students for years. We mostly write about books and ourselves as readers (in the style Nancie Atwel described in In the Middle), but the formative writing opportunities and especially the personal connection have always been so beneficial. Recently, due to a wrist injury, I switched over to “video- letters”. With many students, I found they actually ended up sharing a lot more thinking about reading. I was thinking of switching to video – letters next year, but didn’t want to give up the handwritten letters. Now, I’m inspired to have video letters devoted to reading and dialogue journals for any topic – maintaining the personal connection and writing, while getting the most out of our reading conversations. I have a class of 20 fifth graders, so weekly has been doable up until now. Great food for thought!

    • Liz Galarza says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Lauren! I love the “video-letter” idea; it makes it even more intimate!

      Talking about books and reading life, a component of readers’/writers’ workshop is very powerful! Nancie Atwell’s book In the Middle explains the importance of these types of journals.

      The big difference between literary journals and dialogue journals is that there are no prompts or preconceived ideas about what will be written in the letters. Students choose what they will write about and how they will write it. This is what softens the power differential and leads to mutual reciprocity.

      I think that ANY writing with students where they can really get to know you is going to yield positive relationships. Thanks again!

  20. Joelle says:

    I read this post at the beginning of the school year and was inspired to try it with one of my classes. I’ve been at it for a year now and definitely see the benefits! Dialogue journals have especially helped me to get to know my more introverted students. However, I am still struggling with keeping the dialogue journals more student-centered by not asking questions, as this post suggests. I tried that for awhile, and students would keep coming up to me and telling me that they had nothing to say. I noticed that this problem decreased if I started asking questions, but I definitely saw how asking direct questions also made the activity more centered around me. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Joelle,

      Generating writing topics can be a struggle for a lot of kids. And when it comes to dialogue journals, kids may feel particularly vulnerable because they are sharing a bit of themselves, wondering if the reader is interested in what they have to say. They also might need help understanding that sometimes the littlest things in their lives can be written about in a big way. Here are some things that I did in the classroom (with 1st and 5th graders) that seemed to be effective…first and foremost, I modeled! I shared my own dialgue entries all the time. Sometimes I had entries up on the smartboard as kids walked into the room or at the beginning of a mini-lesson. I shared stories all the time…little stories, in a big way. All the time. Any time. Like how I couldn’t find my car keys that morning. And I’d tell them in a really detailed entertaining way. I shared things I heard on the radio, funny things I saw on tv, and then sometimes I asked their opinion about it. I’d share conversations I overheard that made me think. When engaging in conversation, even during transitions or in passing, I noticed when those struggling writers started engaging back — that’s when I’d get all excited and say, “Ah! Here’s a post it! Jot this idea down really quick and stick this in your journal. You can write about this — I can’t wait to hear more!” Giving kids time to share some of their favorite entries with each other can spark ideas as well. But mostly, I really found that whenever I shared my own entries and whenever I got an idea for my own journal, it helped kids to see their world a little differently…a world that held all kinds of stories. One last thing…give your own journal to a kid and ask them to write back to you. When they read your entries, they’ll see the kinds of things people can talk about. Hope this helps!

      • Joelle says:

        Thanks for the specific feedback! I am looking forward to trying these ideas next year!

    • Liz Galarza says:

      Joelle, thanks for commenting!

      You bring up an important point. How do we get reluctant writers to write a letter to their teacher without directing the conversation with prompts or questions? This is a tough one!

      At the very beginning of the year, I ask students to write at least 5 things about themselves that I would not know already. When the conversation starts to lag, I talk about one of those topics. For example, if the student said they were a younger sister, I may write about my older brother. This often gets them writing about their older sibling. Sometimes I go back to earlier letters and restart a conversation. But if asking a question is the only way they will write, then do it!

      You know intuitively if it is working. Good luck!

  21. Tiffani Hash says:

    Hello, Liz!

    Thank you for sharing Ms. Galarza’s interview. I had come across the blog post prior to listening to the podcast and I am so thankful I took time to listen to the podcast. This will be my 5th year teaching in the classroom. I have been doing dialogue journals with my 9th and 10th graders since my second year of teaching. However, I didn’t realize it was a ‘thing’ until I came across this blog. I, too, have had very similar results and outcomes of cultivating relationships with my students.

    What prompted me to leave a reply to your post is what Ms. Galarza had said about “students not needing me to teach them, but for me to care.” Yes! Yes! Yes! Not to get on a huge soapbox, but this is what all of our students need. I’m sure you agree that high school students are just like the younger kids, just in bigger bodies. They want to be loved and accepted too! The more I listened to Ms. Galarza, the more I felt like I had found a kindred spirit. Thank you for providing this venue for teachers to learn, to be inspired, and stay motivated!


  22. Liz Galarza says:

    Thanks so much, Tiffani! Yes!! You have found a kindred spirit.

    I want to commend you. It is not easy to incorporate dialogue journals as a new teacher, and you stuck with it! Bravo! I feel that creating genuine connections with our students is the way to help our youth. They NEED to be seen, heard, tended to, laughed with, and loved. They need adults to trust. They will be much less likely to want to hurt themselves or others if they know that someone (at least one person) cares. Thanks for validating that point for me!

    Enjoy the summer!

  23. Rose says:

    What a wonderful idea! I am going to try dialogue journals this year with my third graders. Eight-year-olds usually have difficulty writing more than a few sentences, but maybe these journals will encourage them to elaborate. Thank you, Liz!

  24. I started using the dialogue journals with my seniors in a Theory of Knowledge class. It has been really powerful in terms of building trust and relationships. One of the places I came up with questions to use is the Vogue magazine “73 questions” videos….these enable me to get to know my students on a more personal level and also them to know me! Thanks for the great idea!

    • Liz Galarza says:

      Thanks for that information. I am going to look into that video. I love hearing how the concept and practice of dialogue journals is being used at all levels.

  25. I came across this article on a whim and I love the idea of dialogue journals! This is an idea I’ve been toying with for awhile and just haven’t had the “push” I needed to get them started! Our district has now implemented an Action Research requirement for all teachers and I feel this would be a perfect topic for that! I am most curious to know more about the Student Intake Forms. What kind of questions are on the intake forms and how are they used? Is it possible to share a copy of the intake form you’ve used OR give an example of the questions you pose?
    Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and suggestions! I am excited to get started!

    • Liz Galarza says:

      Hi, Nicole,
      I am so excited that you will be using dialogue journals with an Action Research project. That sounds awesome. Please let me know how it is going, and if you want to share on Twitter @drlizgalarza.

      I do not ask students questions. Instead, I ask them to tell me 5-10 things about themselves that I can not see with my eyes or read about in the cumulative folder. We brainstorm ideas like: hobbies, interests, favorites, special talents, etc. Additionally, I use information that I obtain from a parent questionnaire that is filled out the first week. (sometimes I mail it before school starts) I can explain that further if you want.

      I have students ask me questions on that same paper, and I answer the questions as our conversations unfold. I try to keep it as organic as possible; they see through anything that is contrived. They appreciate the authenticity.

      I hope I have been clear. If not, please write again and I will break it down further.

      Keep us up to date on the project!

  26. I love the dialogue journal and plan to use it this year!

  27. Thanks very much for this article! I’ve always loved dialogue journals, but I teach pre-readers/writers. What are some suggestions of similar activities that I could facilitate with five-year-olds? We do “writing” a few times/week, when students draw an illustration and write a few words of a sentence telling a story about their lives, but I’m looking for ways to do this more effectively and make more connections during that time (when my strongest students can write just a few words at a time, and my newer students are not able to form words). Thanks a lot!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.