Logbook Love

logbook (or log book) is a record used to record states, events, or conditions applicable to complex machines or the personnel who operate them. Logbooks are commonly associated with the operation of aircraft, nuclear plants, particle accelerators, and ships (among other applications).

The term logbook originated with the ship’s log, a maritime record of important events in the management, operation, and navigation of a ship. The captain was responsible for keeping a log, as a minimum, of navigational wind, speed, direction and position.


Early in my hyperdoc journey I determined that I needed a central place to collect my students’ work and facilitate collaboration and thus the logbook was born. I love how this modern application of the term connects to historic navigation as well as industrial production and yet is filled with creativity and connection. My students are navigating their development as writers via our logbooks and our community uses this space to record important events and conditions. Our unit logbooks are third spaces that serve as both way stations and weigh stations as the hub of our community.

My primary source of joy as a teacher of writers is experiencing my students’ writing. My first year writing classes (which I teach face-to-face two days a week) are built around a writing marathon/workshop format. On Tuesdays we write and share our writing and then on Thursdays we shape that writing into low-stakes writing deliverables and reflect. But I also like to give the writers in my care time and space to engage asynchronously at their own pace with their writing community outside the classroom – something that is even more essential in our new endemic pandemic reality. While I take attendance in class, student demonstrations of their learning via our unit logbooks are the heart of my ungrading strategy.

Our logbooks are simple tables created on a Google doc with columns dedicated to each week of the unit. Each student has a dedicated row (I use the Heading 3 format to create a handy table of contents for easy navigation) so we (the student and I) can view their journey through the unit’s work which supports reflection, conferencing, and assessment. However, I have also come to appreciate the many benefits of the weekly column as well. For me it offers a quick snapshot of the overall class and for my students it offers an authentic audience as well as models to follow if they are struggling.

The unit logbook has solved so many problems for me and offered so many benefits I have come to love it more and more each semester I teach. I began my teaching career using writing portfolios and the logbook offers the advantages of the writing portfolio, but also helps students see the connection between their low-stakes writing and final deliverable. This year I made a shift in my praxis in response to my last mile problem. I now have students share their writing stories (reflections) and writing goals to the logbook rather than in private reflections shared only with me. I love reading these stories and goals and I find they offer so much insight into my students’ learning journeys. Just when I thought I couldn’t love logbooks any more.

My bottom line as a writing instructor is to help the writers in my care develop the rhetorical skills to continue their journey after they leave my classroom. Our logbooks serve as a record of our navigation of that journey recording important events along the way. The logbook is the nexus of my pedagogy and practice as a writing teacher and that is why I love it.

Image by Jörn from Pixabay

Author: Deanna Mascle
#TeachingWriting and leading #NWP site @ Morehead State (KY): Passionate about #AuthenticWriting, #DeeperLearning, #PBL, #Ungrading, and #HyperDocs.

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