Older students will find the use of reflective journals to be a great aid to learning because they allow students to evaluation situations or ideas; decide on a course of action; and finally, reflect on what was learned. Reflective journals can have prompts assigned by the classroom teacher based on situations within the classroom dynamics, such as, "When you heard of the death of your classmate's parent, what thoughts came to you?" or, "What is your reaction to learning that art classes have been canceled?" Prompts can also ask students to write mindfully about a certain subject they are studying. (i.e., "Who, to you, was the most interesting character in Shakespeare's Othello?") Finally, reflective journals can be used by the students to record their own ideas, thoughts, questions and epiphanies.
Classroom teachers should allow students the freedom to express themselves within the reflective journals without the worry of producing text that is correct in punctuation, grammar and/or spelling. Comments to the students should be positive, for example, "This is a very astute observation," or, "I enjoyed your description of this event."
By being allowed time to reflect and write, students learn to stop, look at what is going on around them, assess the situation, and make plans on what to do. (Give students fifteen minutes during class to write in their journals, or assign this as homework.) This develops skills that will last a lifetime. Additionally, students who keep reflective journals are better able to express frustrations. Less frustration in the classroom allows acceptance and compassion to grow.