Calling all teachers!

Are you a school teacher? Have you used illustrated journaling to teach your kids? Have you used any of my books in class? If so, I would love to talk to you about your experience and what you’ve learned. Please write to me at

Please share this request with any teachers you know.Thanks so much.

6 thoughts on “Calling all teachers!”

  1. Danny, I know you must be heading in the direction of writing a book about journaling for young folks and I am thrilled! I helped an 8 year old last year learn a bit about drawing what you see, and I have thought that someone “like Danny Gregory” ought to do something directed toward teaching children before they reach the “I can’t” period of adolescence when they give up their creativity. I tried to start my little friend toward journaling and even though she was hardly ready to write much, she did get the concept of keeping a sketchbook and using a waterbrush. We had many weeks of exploring and having a great time. Do so hope this is why you have issued this call….children are waiting !!!


  2. Mr. Gregory, While your books have inspired my including journaling in my teaching, I haven’t used them directly in my sixth grade science classroom. My students do nature journaling in the classroom, as homework, and during around-the-campus outings. This last year was the first time I got serious with drawing in the classroom. Many times I had students draw from either life ( I’d cut off pieces of campus landscaping and bring it in to look at under magnifiers) or a projected photo. I set a timer for five minutes and told them they were to not stop drawing until the five minutes were completely up. I cruised the room counting down the minutes. As a few students inevitably said, “I’m done,” after only a minute or two I’d remind them no one was done until the five minutes was up. It took several repetitions before students got with the program. For some it was hard to draw for the full five minutes. For others it was hard for them to limit themselves to the five minutes. I had to create the arbitrary end time or else I’d have students spend 1 to 21 minutes on a drawing. They would then write for five full minutes describing what they drew. We would then share what students wrote to help out those students that couldn’t think of what to write. Students were given one minute if they wanted to share their drawings with a neighbor. After a minute we would go on to a second drawing or on to a new activity. Students really enjoyed drawing. They especially liked our on campus field trips. We would do two nature journals. The day before I’d front load them with information about the plants. On the day of the literal “field” trip I hand out half sheets that recapped the information about the plants. Our landscaping has the usual commercial quality plants. Our field has plenty of invasive plants. I find them more interesting as they usually have a dietary or medicinal use. This last year I stuck with plants, but next year I think I’ll be brave and have students observe our swallows and draw clouds. It was satisfying to see how good many students became over the months. When students grumbled that they were lousy drawers I’d tell them it took 10,000 to become great, but only 120 repetitions to become good. I didn’t let anyone be self critical unless they’d made 120 drawings and still didn’t like the results. To get praise for your drawings, you don’t have to be on a museum wall, you only have to be better than the person viewing your drawing. It is like the joke about the two backpackers and the grizzly bear. You don’t need to be faster than the bear. You only need to be faster than the other backpacker. The homework labeled “observation” was an alternative to the nature journal. Students could select anything that interested them, anything from super nova to Superman to supper. They still drew for five minutes, but only had to write in bullet points. I do like that they had to come up with questions. The more we learn the more questions we should have. I think kids aren’t used to composing questions based on what they already know. They have to actually sit quietly and think. One nice thing about journaling is that all students can be successful. Students draw to the best of their abilities. They write to the best of their abilities. They would only earn a bad grade (or a do over) if they did not follow directions or did not do their own best work. It is really hard to find activities that can stretch students that are already advanced and also keep strugglers interested. My gifted students were working right next to my mainstreamed special ed. students. Both learned and both were encouraged by their own results. Sometimes students were missing assignments. I told them their could either to an observation or a nature journal to make up any assignment and earn partial credit. Students attending homework club would pinch off a leaf, bring it into the classroom, and could complete the assignment. The other teacher didn’t have to struggle to figure out what was expected of a student. It was just five minute draw and five minute write. Students didn’t have to tract down old handouts or missing notes. California sixth grade science standards focus on Earth science (plate tectonics, weather, ecology, etc). There are general investigation standards that I’ve included blow. I’ve bolded the parts that justify including nature journaling it in my science classes. Investigation and Experimentation 7. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will: … b. Select and use appropriate tools and technology (including calculators, computers, balances, spring scales, microscopes, and binoculars) to perform tests, collect data, and display data. … d. Communicate the steps and results from an investigation in written reports and oral presentations. … h. Identify changes in natural phenomena over time without manipulating the phenomena (e.g., a tree limb, a grove of trees, a stream, a hillslope). Starting in 2014 we’ll be using Common Core State Standards. If you’d like I can get the wording for you. I can also get you the titles of nature journaling books that also inspired me. I very much enjoy your blog. Tell your son he has a real knack for film. They are very meditative. Mrs. Valerie Hartmann

    Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2013 22:15:51 +0000 To:


  3. I teach Grade 5 in a Catholic school here in Vancouver.

    I have daily drawing sessions at the start of each day. I have done this for years with children ranging from 7 to 12 years old.

    These sessions only last typically about 5-10 minutes. We work from “Draw Squad” projected using a SMART board.

    Children come to me years later and report how much they enjoyed, and how much they learned, from our daily drawing sessions.


  4. Danny, I’ve been following your blog for about a year, and reading a couple of your books. This summer I’m keeping my own illustrative journal. I have always journaled and always drawn, but not intentionally together. I’m having a wonderful time and often think throughout the day what I’ll draw next to document my day.
    All that said, I’m an elementary teacher and normally teach either 1st or 2nd grade. I have Masters in Integrated ARt and Curriculum design and am always trying to find ways to sneak in some wonderful art to content that is required. I have decided it’s once again time to create drawing journals after so many years of never having time just to throw some sketching or drawing into our morning or free time. (We don’t have much of that anymore!) I’m convinced that
    teaching kids to draw has so many many benefits, such as developing the right side of the brain and just helping them focus and relax.
    You’re an inspiration!


  5. Sorry to be a bit late with a reply here…am on a two week road trip and did not have wifi until last night. I used illustration throughout my forty year career as a Speech/Language Pathologist helping people, birth to old,old, with communication problems. I generally always provided spirals for the clients or their care providers for this purpose. We often drew illustrations of the anatomy of the mouth, throat, voice box/larynx, ears; new vocabulary words; social interactions; sequences of events or transformations of processes, etc.. It was also very useful for creating sequences for following directions and key memory aids. As software programs came along and in these last few years, iPad apps, I was also often using these means for delivering many self made strategies with and by students themselves. I actually chose the field because I could see early on that it would allow me to combine my keen interest in art, science,medicine,sociology and promotion of people v products. I will be entering my second year of retirement this fall and have been having an absolute ball merging my everyday use of illustration into pieces of mixed media art for my everyday use through art journaling. Well this may have become a bit of a ramble so I shall sign off now. Life is good, enjoy!!!!!!!!!!


  6. Just discovered your site and will give some serious thought how I can use it in my classroom – middle school science – interesting post above. Just published my website – go to:
    Thanks for sharing – Alan


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