Monday, October 10, 2005

Three-Part Journal Entries

This helpful example of a Three-Part Journal Entry is an excerpt from Sacred Places, a site devoted to inquiries into life and learning. While the subject of this particular Three-Part Journal is a place, any subject that pertains to your coursework could be substituted. This style of writing is particularly useful for turning service learning experiences into substantive learning. Note the significant font changes within the entry: the descriptive section which focuses on objective accuracy is represented by normal font, the interpretive/self- critical part that promotes self awareness is in bold font, and the personal expression section that encourages intellectual analysis (which may link up to concepts and themes discussed in class and/or class readings) is signified by italics.

“The three sections of the journal are description, interpretation and personal expression. In the section labeled “description” you will write what you see, hear, feel, smell and otherwise physically sense about a place. You will find yourself working very hard to find better and more precise and concise words to describe what you come to know through your senses. For example, there are a lot of "big trees." Exactly how big is this tree? What kind of tree is it? What does it look like? What other plants are part of its environment?

The second section of the journal is your interpretation of what you have observed. What judgments are you making of this place? What qualities are you attributing to it? What does this place mean to you? What associations are you making with it? What does it make you think about?

Then finally in the personal expression section you write something — maybe a poem, a letter home, a short story — that comes out of the writing experience you have just gone through in the first two sections. Consider the ideas you have had, select the one(s) most interesting to you and write about it in a meaningful way for yourself. It should be a piece of writing you want someone else to read or that you want to send to someone. You should expect to spend 3 hours a week observing and writing in your journal.

It is recommended that all journal entries be double-spaced and dated. There is no required length, but anything less than one page each for parts one and two, and two pages for part three may be thin or underdeveloped.

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