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“I don’t look at teaching the way many people do,” Galarza says.

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.

“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. And the more a person writes, the more confident they become and the better their writing gets.

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.

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