Education Students Meet Their Journal Buddies


A group of Education majors welcomed third graders from Cambria Heights Elementary School in Carrolltown to campus on April 20, meeting with these visiting students for the first time after writing back and forth with them through journals during the academic year.

The meeting was the culmination of the Education Department’s “Journal Buddy” assignment for SFU preservice teachers.

Last October, preservice teachers were paired up with third grade students from Darla Kochinsky’s class at Cambria Heights. The college and elementary students then journaled back and forth for the next seven months, building relationships in the process.

“Pre-service teachers have the opportunity to connect theory to practice as they engage in meaningful dialogue through an authentic writing experience,” said Stephanie Ivory, Associate Professor and Chair of the Education Department.

“Rather than simply reading about ‘the writing process’ in a textbook, college students have the opportunity to directly engage in conversation with an elementary student while making text connections within children’s literature.”

After initial introductions, SFU and Cambria Heights students were instructed to read the same children’s books so that connections could be made through the readings. A dialogue between the two groups of students followed.

“Third graders and pre-service teachers made text connections as they wrote back and forth,” said Ivory.

Education major Alissa James described the experience as “eye-opening.”

“Doing the Journal Buddies project opened up my eyes,” said James. “My buddy told me stories about her emotions, family and friends that she might not have done if we were face-to-face.

“I took away from this experience the importance of having an outlet for students and a safe place where they can express and open up, without feeling judged.”