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Lesson Plan

Launching Family Message Journals

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Launching Family Message Journals

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Julie Wollman, Ph.D.

Julie Wollman, Ph.D.

Worcester, Massachusetts


National Council of Teachers of English



From Theory to Practice



This lesson introduces Family Message Journals—a teacher-tested tool for encouraging family involvement and supporting writing to reflect and to learn. The teacher introduces journals by demonstrating the process of writing a letter. Children are then led into composing through guided writing and finally independent writing of messages that they will bring home for family (or others) to read and write a reply. Messages focus on classroom learning and activities in which children have participated at school. A letter to families is included so that they understand what they are expected to do with the children's daily journal messages and why.

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Family Message Journals provide an authentic writing experience for students that can be adapted for many purposes. In Family Message Journals: Teaching Writing through Family Involvement, Julie Wollman-Bonilla writes: "Because of its multifaceted nature and the centrality of writing for an audience, the Family Message Journal can play a prominent role in [carefully designed writing curricula]." In discussing the role of Family Message Journals in promoting authentic writing, Wollman-Bonilla adds: "Writing is a powerful tool for influencing others, getting what you want, and problem-solving. ... In addition, children need to write for real purposes and audiences if they are to learn that writing is personally meaningful and a powerful communication tool." The purpose of this lesson is to get students started with using Family Message Journals, which teachers can use throughout the year to promote writing for an authentic audience for multiple purposes.

Further Reading

Wollman-Bonilla, Julie. 2000. Family Message Journals: Teaching Writing through Family Involvement. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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