Maryann DiEdwardo Ed.D. Author of The Legacy of Katharine Hepburn, Fine Art As A Way of Life

Title: Teaching Writing Based on Journaling Concepts of Thoreau

Information processing generates active students. My thesis is to engage in remembering place.
Through my own experience of basing my newest novel entitled The Passing Light on my own travel diary, I create strategies based on the travel journaling of Thoreau. My students create E- journals as primary sources for essays. Writing based on keen observation and self discovery is a part of learning to write.
In my freshman English classes, my students create travel journals as primary sources for essays. My most recent travel journal entitled “Writing Between Rivers” which is the foundation of my newest publication, The Passing Light, a juvenile fiction work, demonstrates Travel Journaling based on keen observation and self discovery as a part of learning to write. In The Passing Light I tell a story based on my travel journals and deep pain. I apply my own travel journaling to my teaching of Freshman English. Educational research is favorable for the private journal as a way for literature students to progress in writing and to succeed in college English classes. Furthermore, in the computer enhanced traditional classroom and the distance learning classroom, I apply travel journaling to Blog and Wiki Journaling and E-Portfolios about Themes of Nature and Place Memory to Engage Student Voices.

Students of the 21st century benefit from educational models that mimic the design of Twitter and Facebook which is based the ability to socialize in a group and the ability to know oneself. Therefore, blogging or daily creative assignments in and out of class to provide brainstorming ideas, rough, first and second drafting opportunities that are required as part of class for regular assessment act as journaling can motivate students to write.
The healing and rewarding aspects of journaling in a blog or wiki enhance your teaching with designing your own blog or wiki journal or other writing project to inspire and encourage students to see writing as a daily and enjoyable task. . During the early months of 2009, contemplation and prayer on the land where I live promoted me to write a diary called Writing between Rivers, Lehigh, Delaware and Susquehanna, a paradigm for a juvenile fiction novel called The Passing Light. The purpose of the journaling was to reveal the writing process and the use of actual experience to enhance and encourage the literary mind.

I visited special places that inspired me to retain hope as I experienced life changes such as job shifts, illness, and the death of my parents. The land between rivers emerged as a template and voice to tell a story that carries hope. In “The Song of Faith”, Christopher Promuk April 8, 2002 writes: “As a prolific writer of journals, Merton believed in the religious transparency of his own experience. Of this, he writes rather matter-of-factly, “Journals take for granted that every day in our life there is something new and important… Journaling was for him a means of paying attention to the hand of grace in his life and a way of exorcising the ego-demons that kept him from greater love, surrender and prayer. It was a means of participating in his own salvation (Promuk).”
“Merton’s journals modeled for me the value of spiritual self-examination. As a teenager I was wowed by the nakedness of his inner dialogue, watching him discern his way through the relationships in his life. From the frustrations of living in community to the solitude of the woods, Merton showed the latent sanctity within ordinary human struggles. He illuminated nature as a place of revelation “(Promuk).

Translating Thoreau or Merton to our students of the technology age quickly becomes imaginative and useful with blogging and wikis. Blogs are interpersonal in the public setting and intrapersonal in the private setting. that can be programmed to be private or public within digital open access classrooms such as Moodle are similar to the twitter or facebook interface with quick posting. Wiki or web page can be edited in digital classroom platform to act as a model to motivate. Create assignments that use life story journaling about immediate or recent experiences to help students learn to create their own voices with immediate and lively feedback from peers.

Sample of cooperative learning in the digital classroom may include the following: 1. Travel Journaling during the session to ignite discussions about Place Memory - Reflection on process and designing your own life history project about a living or deceased person’s home or vacation spot; 2. I also demonstrate one sound bite through video stream or online media like news transcript about how places help or hinder people; 3. Discussions with participants will show how to find a way to engage in storytelling, framing life histories, or remembrances about your own hometown in a travel journal.

Blogs promote student-directed learning. Students who write blog and wiki discussions succeed in college writing classes as these activities are themed on their own lives. Design the blog and wiki framework as a planning tool based upon curriculum goals. For instance, in my English I classes at Lehigh University fall 2007, I used a wiki to generate quizzes that are the basis of a final group essay project. Based upon the research of Lev Vygotsky in the field of Activity Theory (Vygotsky 1978), the sociocultural phenomenon of wiki explodes the development of the classroom in models that serve the students of the 21st century. Applicable to our varied student bodies both tradition and distance populations, activity theory works to ensure that students receive instructions that they can apply beyond writing in the classroom. Wiki serves educators as an integrating technology compatible with electronic portfolio, team newsletters, team papers, and frameworks that depend upon technology to enhance cognitive functions of students. A public journal blog or wiki can be a part of any writing class and can be any type of writing that helps the student move forward with literary language skills. Collaborative discussion wikis create online journals as participation to earn grade points as well as paper points. The writing process is the focus; we use the blog or wiki to stimulate the transition from the thought or brainstorm to the page through wiki. In addition, we cohesively work during our blog or wiki experiences on a newsletter composed of all blog or wiki entries. Students thoughtfully write, then publish online as part of the class experience.

Nature journaling, transcendentalism, and place memory as a framework, encourage inquiry. Through reading and discussing literary texts, observing films, and participating in self-discovery journaling, I create strategies based on the travel journaling of Thoreau and the writing of my most recent travel journal entitled “Writing Between Rivers” which is the foundation of my newest publication, The Passing Light. The book demonstrates Travel Journaling based on keen observation and self-discovery as a part of learning to write. In The Passing Light I tell a story based on my travel journals and deep pain. I apply my own travel journaling to my teaching of Freshman English. Educational research is favorable for the private journal as a way for literature students to progress in writing and to succeed in college English classes.My students enjoy participating in every activity that they come across in the class experience including telephone or real face-to-face conferences, chat experiences, group talks, coffeehouse days, presentations of others, or web searches. ALL these activities are the stuff of writing as we write about our lives. Students write about the lectures, web experiences like video streaming searches and reviews, group research library searches, films, theatre, field trips to art museums library lessons online or in the library, group experiences, class happenings, chats, or author personality integration such as a letter to your author or a letter to your friend about your English study. After all, they are the writers now and are making history. Chats can be coffeehouse days where students write about your experiences in writing and share thoughts on life as writing topics or to add to writing topics.
Multigenerational, multicultural, The Passing Light is themed with a myriad of characters who represent poverty in her dimensional weave of sorrow that spans four centuries. Journaling and historical fiction are literary techniques that ignite writers of any age. The writers use keen observation and remembrance to develop the character of Jonathan. Use of memory folds into the novel’s action and embeds human strife as a key theme.
Blog and wiki assignments in English I and II computer enhanced literature based composition classes in the University setting in traditional or distance classes to create and implement assignments. The blogs and wikis are embedded with techniques that have detailed and required pedagogical focus such as the writing process, critical reading, essay skills, grammar, mechanics, sentence structure, film theory, literary terms, and journaling, I require my English 1 and 2 students to compose drafts of essays in public blogs and private wikis to echo current trends in technology. Furthermore, in class blog journaling in computer enhanced traditional classrooms motivates students to write and to stay on task to achieve and to develop style. Applications of structured platforms create blog and wiki assignments that benefit students. Incorporate the blog daily journal as a way to stimulate students to write. Blogs seem friendly and offer peer feedback as a way to encourage writers to learn from cooperative efforts as well. As a personal web page with a place to save writing and notes, the wiki acts as a personal private record of drafts of essays with the possibility of presentation of wiki as a portfolio for final assessments.

One of my students created a private wiki of 10,000 words in the digital classroom Moodle. I encouraged my student who created the comprehensive portfolio to write daily even out of class and to edit with me via email, text and conferences. She attended private and group conferences out of class to hone her writing skills. Her favorite paper was based on the television show Glee. Through a wiki journal that was private, she created planning, thesis, first second and final draft. Within the platform of wiki, the student felt safe to write her thoughts without peer response. Her need for private form of writing promoted me to create the private wiki as an alternative. Although she still performed daily tasks in the blog such as reactions to films and readings, she based her writing process on the private wiki. She writes the following introduction to her paper: “From the first episode to the season finale, Journey’s song “Don’t Stop Believing” portrays themes in the popular television series, Glee. In the final episode of the first season, the Glee club sings a mash-up of songs in the Regional competition which includes select verses of Journey’s hit “Don’t Stop Believing.” Glee focuses on evolving characters who are “outsiders” in their high school. Themes of outsiders combine the show’s incorporation of music with characters who embody inner life which represents the human condition. The lyrics of the fourth verse in Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” emulate the developments of both characters and relationships in the final episode of season one of Glee. “

In January of 2007, I initiated my practice of creating public blog journals for a public peer review practice and private wikis to save and develop drafts of essays. I recall that I entered the classroom on the first day and immediately set up a blog on the internet for my students to finish the first day of class assignment. I used a site called Blog Spot, since our digital classroom (Blackboard at the time) was not yet ready. Their task was to write a short paragraph about a personal immigration experience. The outcome demonstrated how students are engaged by blogging and by sharing their thoughts with the class community. I have consistently used blogging as a daily task to complete portions of writing that lead to essays in Lehigh University English 1 and 2 traditional computer enhanced classes. Blog and wiki in learning communities engages student voices. Create a classroom community where students participate as active learners by technological friendly models. Blog and wiki journaling act as primary sources for essays. Writing based on keen observation and self discovery as a part of learning to write. Information processing generates active students. I have been able to create a blog in the newest open access software called Moodle. I list homework in the following method by mentioning the daily in class blog that will help the students form their essays through the writing process and group activities that take place in class or during activities outside of class.

My student writes the following introduction to a paper: “Encyclopedia Britannica explains Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek as a work that was “distilled from keen observations of her own habitat [conveying] the essential enigmas of religious mysticism” (Annie Dillard). To compare a Pulitzer Prize-winning collection to any film superficially seems unfair. James Cameron delivers Avatar through complex computer design and animation using appeals to sound and sight to his advantage. Annie Dillard is able to just the same by vividly describing scenes on a mere piece of paper. The readers must assume then that Dillard’s main objective is to leave her words up for interpretation. It is with this liberty that we can draw connections between these two original masterpieces of their own form. Thus, through key passages in Annie Dillard’s work, we can discuss Avatar and Jake’s character development.”

Other frameworks include writing about blog or wiki lectures, web experiences like video streaming searches and reviews linked to blog or wiki posts, group research library searches through blog links and wiki, after all, blogs and wikis create the new 21st century writer who is making history. Blogs and Wikis are technology areas where students learn to share thoughts on life as writing topics or to add to writing topics. Save blog and wiki posts and refer to them daily; they are documents educators can refer to as citations or use as preliminary parts of papers. Blogs and Wikis can be poetry fiction drama presentations where students post a short set of web sites or literary terms or parts of writing and gain discussion journal points or use the experience actually to write a paper. Papers can be ABOUT blogs and wikis. Live internet experiences are life and students write about life or about others who understand aspects of the human condition. Blogs and Wikis are live writing process events as well. Assertive blog and wiki activities include critiques of peer writing, group writing, and references to other students’ blogs and wiki posts and Professor conferences. The platform of blog and wiki can result in a series of thoughts that may become finished research essays.

Encourage students to print the blog wiki document or save as a file to show ability to write online in a cooperative team. Students are asked to act as editors, cognitive mappers of ideas within the design of the wiki discussion newsletter, interpreters of website links, all to demonstrate adaptive strategies to address visual and special thinking of all class members with different modes and talents. Wiki teaches planning which is also journaling. Any time students write ideas save them either in a wiki discussion forum with conversations that are shared with other class or team members. Writing has a new meaning in the virtual setting. Every action is recorded for points. Topics can be one word for a first draft. The next draft may be a thesis. I suggest students draft at least two days per week and keep a record of al activity to show me on the electronic classrooms or in a private journal in wiki posts or even in a collection of wiki styles (private or public) that can be a journal. Journaling is a wonderful tool and allows us to be active in small groups or alone.
In my experiences at the Northampton Community College, in English 1 and 2 distance learning classes, I encouraged students post 25 wiki discussions for the entire semester which satisfy the journal aspect of the class by use of three separate but equal types of discussions available in my class. I encouraged my students to write cohesively work during our paper 3 project newsletter composed of all my English students. Present wiki team newsletter via a final posting area upon completion of all requirements to encourage skills in cooperative learning.


Egan, K. (1992). Imagination in Teaching and Learning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Promuk, Christopher. “The Song of Faith.” America, The National Catholic Weekly.
Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman, Eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.