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Visual Journaling


As the culture of the 21st Century has become saturated with images and visual media, it only makes sense that individuals would respond through using a combination of images, visual media, and text. Visual Journaling is a reflective process that involves exploring concepts, ideas, and thoughts visually in order to understand and create personal meaning; it can also function as an assessment tool for metacognitive awareness, agency, and action.

Opportunities for Student Choice 

Students can choose the texts they will reflect on, within certain parameters, for each type of reflection.  They are allowed to choose among strategies for reflection and visualization.

Authentic Task 

Reflection is an important part of self-evaluation, which is expected across many contexts, including both school and work.

Opportunities for Exhibition to an Audience 

Because visual journals include student reflections, it may not be appropriate make the journals available to audiences in their entirety. Excerpts from journals can be shared as photographs, as part of a student presentation, or via video. Several examples of such exhibitions can be found in the Resources section of Explore Visual Journals.


Grade Level Exemplars/Models 

As you explore the exemplars, keep in mind that most come from art students. Few teachers currently use the visual journal in other content areas.

3-4 Levels Below High School:

https://pt.slideshare.net/elemICT/what-makes-a-good-visual-journal-assessment-examples/8?smtNoRedir=1 (this includes a wide range of visual journals)

2 Levels Below High School



High School


Expert Level



Grade Level Adaptations 

3-4 Levels Below High School:

Students respond to visuals or use a “high-low” text, which has grade-appropriate content but is at their independent reading level.  Orca and High Noon are publishers of high-low texts. Students may focus on responding to texts visually, limited written reflection.


2 Levels Below High School:

Students should use an ability-appropriate text, and may use the simpler strategies, but focus on responding both visually and in writing.


High School:

Students should use a high school level text and should include the full range of strategies, with an emphasis on higher-level strategies such as making inferences, identifying and explaining the use of literary tropes, and evaluating text.

Downloadable Resources 
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Explore Visual Journals

What is a visual journal and how will I use it?

Students develop a clear enough understanding of the characteristics and uses of visual journaling to be able to explain their understanding to others.

Time To Complete 

1-2 hours


What is visualization?

Students investigate and practice various means of visually representing ideas, thoughts, and concepts surrounding a specific topic, theme or inquiry.

Time To Complete 

2+ Hours

Apply Visual Thinking Techniques

What is visualization?

Students connect personal experience to learning explorations and demonstrate various techniques for responding to and summarizing a variety of visual media and text sources.

Time To Complete 

2+ Hours

Reflect (Metacognition in Visual Journaling)

What is metacognition?

Students reflect on their learning experience and authentically apply their new knowledge, understanding, and skills in order to approach and solve problems observed within their community and the world.