A Journal Can Be Anything

Professional Development Topic

Too many educators believe the only way to journal is with the written word. Yes, we want our students to write — to increase their power through literacy. But why can't they use multiple intelligences to prompt the written word?

Howard Gardner's groundbreaking theory of multiple intelligences revealed to educators that there is more than one way to be smart. Gardner identified eight intelligences: Visual/Spatial, Musical, Verbal/Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Bodily/Kinesthetic and Naturalist.


Consider some of the following journal prompts to draw on multiple intelligences:

  • Have students bring in five important photographs. Have them tell another student about them. Then write. (Visual/Spatial, Interpersonal)
  • Bring in something that you've inherited and tell its story. I have an old depression-era, milky-green saucer and teacup of my grandmother's. If I was sitting and having tea with my Nanny today, what might she say to me? What might the cup and saucer say? (Interpersonal, Intrapersonal)
  • Save all of the receipts you get for one week. What do you remember about that movie, that grocery store visit or that purchase? Who was with you? What did you talk about? What do your purchases say about you? (Logical/Mathematical)
  • Take a walk outside. What do you see? Watch nature and let it speak to you. Then write. (Naturalist, Bodily/Kinesthetic)
  • Do you have a quilt in your family? Who remembers the story of each item of clothing woven into the fabric of your family's history? (Interpersonal, Logical/Mathematical)
  • If you made a quilt out of the clothes you own today, what would it look like? What would it say about you to your grandchildren? (Interpersonal, Logical/Mathematical)
  • Do you doodle when you take notes? Often people doodle the same thing over and over again? What do your doodles mean? (Visual/Spatial)
  • Start your journal with a drawing instead of a word. Draw your day yesterday. What images shock or surprise you? Now write about them. (Visual/Spatial)
  • What is your favorite song? Your parents' favorite song? Your best friend's favorite song? Why? Do the lyrics have something in common? What? (Musical)


Students don't all learn the same way. Using multiple modalities as avenues to journaling can reach students not easily engaged with language. Allow students to be creative, because a journal can be anything.