Journaling for Carryover

I am in the midst of designing a lesson plan for 2 teen age boys. My challenge is to create activities that are relevant to their individual speech therapy goals as well as meaningful in every day life. Typically, this means teaching a skill that will provide new communication challenges and be useful at school. I’ve chosen to discuss journaling.

“Lots of people keep journals to help them work through difficult things in their lives. For example, writing privately about something that has happened to you can help you get all your feelings on paper. As a result, you often feel better or at least understand what has happened a little more.” (125 Ways to be a Better Writer by Paul F. Johnson, LinguiSystems, 1996, p. 56, http://www.linguisystems.com/) Journaling is a way to practice writing and writing is important to success in school. Journaling can be done in creative, unique ways without the limitations of a specific format. Finally, journaling observations about stuttering can lead to insights about one’s own therapeutic progress.

In order to make this process as painless as possible, I’ll be teaching the boys how to draw mindscapes. Mindscapes are picture representations of complex ideas and are described in the book Visual Thinking: Tools for Mapping Your Ideas by Nancy Margulies and Christine Valenza (Crown House Publishing, 2007). We will brainstorm ideas and “cluster” these thoughts quickly onto paper in the form of arrows, shapes, drawings and single words. We’ll record our observations by doodling with several different colored crayons. This lesson is not about composing grammatically correct complex sentences with accurate punctuation. Instead, it is about generating as many opinions and feelings as possible and then contemplating the relationships between them.

As a guide for thinking about stuttering, we will also refer to Making My Own Way a journaling workbook I co-wrote with Jackie Biagini in 2002. This is at http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/TherapyWWW/butler.pdf . (It needs revision, so if anyone reading this blog would like to co-author a rewriting of this workbook, please let me know!! Perhaps it would look good on your college application or resume for employment.) The workbook has several “levels,” but, they don't have to be completed in a specific order. Each level simply offers a way to look at communication, stuttering, and behavior change.

Another handy reference for this kind of exercise is Diane Games' My Story: A PowerPoint Teaching Tool at http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad9/papers/therapy9/games9.html. Diane explains: "The "My Story" framework provided a forum for each child/teen to comment on important personal issues with various speakers... The children and teens used this PowerPoint framework to develop and express their viewpoints in writing. Following the completion of the written story, the child/teen orally discussed their story and frequently provided alternative solutions or ideas for handling difficult situations. They also were empowered to evaluate their progress and to plan for future treatment."

Perhaps mindscaping and writing about stuttering will generalize to other academic tasks for my students. I know what it's like to stare apprehensively at a blank sheet of paper, wondering how to begin a report. Maybe you have too. Scribbling down ideas in the form of mindscapes may be an easy way to get the writing process started. Yes, each cluster of ideas must eventually become a paragraph of well written sentences. But, one can’t write sentences without first knowing what to say!


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.