Journal Writing Lesson Plan for High School

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

What is a journal and why are they so popular for self-expression? This lesson plan builds upon an informative video lesson with a meaningful writing activity.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • list examples of self-expressive writing
  • explain self-expressive writing
  • summarize the use of essays, poetry and journals for self-expressive writing


1 - 1.5 hours

Curriculum Standards


Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.


Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.


Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.


Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole.


Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)


  • A worksheet created using the quiz from the associated video lesson
  • Three 8.5x11 sheets of white paper marked as follows: '1-POEM', '2-ESSAY', and '3-JOURNAL'.


  • Begin by asking students to raise their hands if they keep a journal.
    • For those who raised your hands, discuss what types of things you write about in your journals?
  • Play the video lesson Writing for Self-Expression: Essays, Poems and Journals, pausing it at 0:57.
    • What types of writing, besides journaling, can be used for self-expression? Possibly write these on the board.
  • Play the video lesson, pausing it at 2:16.
    • How many of you have written an essay?
    • What types of things have you written essays about?
  • Play the video lesson again. Pause it at 3:16.
    • How many of you have written poems?
    • What were those poems about?
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson for the class now.
    • If journal writings are mostly kept private, why should we write them at all?
  • Review key points from the video lesson with the class now.
  • Pass out the worksheet to the class now, one copy per student.
  • Instruct the students to work independently to complete the worksheet.
  • When all students have finished the worksheet, review each question and answer with the class as students self-check their work.

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