Summer Learning: Journaling with Appreciative Inquiry

Summer Journaling.jpg

Summer vacation is coming soon! So, what are your plans?  Have you included any activities that will help your child keep their language arts skills sharp over the break?  (Haha!  I’m almost positive that most of you just knitted your brows and sarcastically muttered the words: “Ugh, NO!”)  Before you stop reading this post, I’d like for you to consider doing some “AND” thinking because there is a way for students to enjoy their time off from school AND continue applying language arts skills! They might just learn to appreciate the experience while they’re at it if we add an additional AND to the list!  The key is to cop a good action plan in advance!

Before I get to the suggested activity, I want to tell you about an approach to personal change called Appreciative Inquiry (AI).  AI is the study and exploration of what gives life to human systems when they function at their best.  It is based on the assumption that the questions we ask and the dialogue we hold about strengths, successes, values, hopes, and dreams lead us in a particular direction and are themselves transformational! Simply put, Appreciative Inquiry means that what we spend time focusing on and studying shapes our interpretations, learnings, and inspirations!  (Do you focus on what you want or what you don’t want?  Whichever it is, you’ll likely find it.  If you continually search for problems, you’ll find problems.  If you look for what is best and learn from it, you can magnify and multiply your success!) 

With that being said, allow me to give you a summertime language arts activity that will keep your child engaged in writing AND teach them to appreciate their experiences…AND still enjoy their vacation!  It’s fairly simple.  We’re talking about journaling…AI style!  Here are the steps involved:


1.  Get a spiral notebook, folder, composition book, or diary.  (A digital journal is fine too!)

2.  Establish a routine for journaling.  (What time of day will work best?) (Will you have your child do a daily/weekly journal entry, or will you only have them journal after certain activities? Etc.) 

3.  Have your child personalize their summer journal by giving it a title, such as My Summer Journal or The Summer of 2018.

4.  Require each journal entry to include the day’s date and year.

5.   Have students write as much as they can as they reflect on the day’s events, using the following Appreciative Inquiry questions as a guide:

  • What was the best part of today?
  • Who was part of my day, and how did we work together to make the day better?
  • What situation(s) took place today that helped me to learn and grow?
  • What relationship(s) helped me perform at my best today?
  • Did anyone do go above and beyond to make today extra special?
  • Did anyone tell me that I made a difference today?
  • When did I feel like I made a difference today?
  • Did I or anyone else help someone have success today?
  • What did I look forward to today?
  • Share a time that I made an effort to listen and hear the opinion(s) of someone else today.
  • Who did I trust and depend on most today?
  • Who made me believe in myself and my potential today? 
  • When did I communicate well with others today?
  • How can I help create an environment that will make tomorrow an even better day?          

6.     Have students draw or create a picture to go with today’s journal entry.

7.     Consider having students share their journal entries aloud so that everyone can enjoy the positive experiences of the day!

As students learn to write, using these AI questions as a framework, their ability to appreciate can translate into a more positive approach to thinking that can last a lifetime if knowledge, skill, and practice are applied.  Give it a try with your child this summer!  The journal will also be something you can save for them to enjoy reading later in life.

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Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK.