Beyond the mundane journal entries about daily tasks or thoughts, journals can be a creative and valuable technique for high school students to hone their writing skills. In addition to improving on writing skills, summer journals can ignite ideas for high school students that might be beneficial for writing in the fall when school opens in the fall.
The summer season can provide a wealth of journal topics and inspiration from nature. Going outside and observing the elements of nature can allow students to work on descriptive skills as well as using specific nouns, verbs and adjectives. Watch a skittering leaf in the wind, the down on a dandelion, the activity of ants on the sidewalk or any other simple element of nature. Describe the drops of rain sliding down a windowsill or the feel of sand between toes on a trip to the beach. When a writer has first hand access to nature, it is much easier to work on the skill of description.
An important skill to have when writing in high school is the ability to lay out an argument. Watch the news, read the newspaper, or check out a favorite online site and write an argument on an issue in the news. Keep it concise and not rambling. Write about three reasons why all beaches should have lifeguards, why all children should take swimming lessons, or reasons not to text and drive. Developing thought and reasoning on issues is good practice for the fall writing classes.
Select words and write extended definitions. This can be done by randomly selecting words out of texts or they can be taken from “word of the day” sites for another example. Take a word such as “choice” and define what the word “choice” means to different people or groups. It does not need to be a word that a student has never heard before, but something that could be defined in many ways. It could be a simple as the color purple. The writing might range from a purple bruise to a purple crayon.
Another good journal topic is to explain any kind of process. Many technical careers require students to write precision instructions. Try writing specific instructions for how to operate a vacuum, how to mow the lawn, how to fill a car with gas, or more light topics such as how to buy the perfect pair of jeans. Just introduce the topic, address the key steps with significantly precise language and a conclusion.
Creating character is an important skill for any creative writing. A fun activity is to go to a public place such as a park, mall, or restaurant and people watch. Listen for catchy pieces of dialogue that people say, describe a specific person that is seen, or writing a fictional biography of someone that you see.
Sell a product
Another fun journal topic is to write sales copy for a product. The product can be items that a person has around the house or it can be an ice cream cone from a favorite ice cream parlor. Try to write with techniques that will make others want the product. Do not say anything negative. Try to use techniques that are seen on television and imitate the style. Try writing sales copy for a favorite t-shirt or even a service that could be provided such as baby sitting or mowing lawns.
Try to invent a new product. Write a description of this product. Consider making a drawing of the product. Perhaps it is a product such as the automatic peanut butter sandwich maker or an automatic bed maker. Write about the benefits of this product.
Try writing letters to real or fictional people. Practice taking on the persona of a different person writing the letter. For example, write a letter of complaint about bad service or a bad product. Write as if two characters in a book are writing letters to each other. Write a letter of appreciation to someone.
Keep a journal about potential careers. Do some research on the careers and then use the journal to focus thoughts about careers. Journal about the education that is needed, salary, job responsibilities or any other characteristics of the career. It can give the high school student a step up in the fall when it comes to selecting high school classes and post-high school education plans.
While there are many lighthearted and serious topics that a high school student could write about in the summer, these are a few great journal ideas that will benefit the student as a writer. The best part of journal writing is that it is for the writer’s eyes only. If the writer wants to later take those ideas and formulate them into a formal piece of writing for presentation, the first steps have already been taken.